The pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation of the workplace in many ways, but the real pressure to modernize is coming from the younger generation of workers: Gen Z. This demographic is entering the workforce in waves – already making up 24% of it – and they have very different expectations than that of the baby boomers, generation x, and millennials that preceded them.
Generation Z is known for being socially conscious, prioritizing work life balance, and being technologically savvier than any other generation. They are often referred to as “digital native” (or even “digital wizards”), being the only generation to have truly grown up with technology like smartphones.
Their digital experiences are all personalized, from shopping habits to social media, and thus, they’re used to extremely sophisticated digital experiences – meaning in the workplace, the Gen Z employee will expect no different. Here are the Generation Z characteristics that you can meet, if using an AI-powered relevance platform to streamline internal communication.
What Does Generation Z Expect in the Workplace?
Continuous evolution. While the previous generation preferred things to be stable and familiar, Gen Z is used to and expects rapid change and continuous improvement in the way things are done, particularly in technology.
They expect to always use the latest and greatest tools – in fact, 80% of Gen Z want to work with cutting-edge technology. This generation is so inundated with technological advancements (like a new and improved iPhone made available every few years) that they barely even see it as evolution – it’s just the way things work.
When it comes to choosing jobs, 91% of Gen Z say technology influences their choice between employers.
Fast progress. According to LinkedIn’s Workplace Learning Report 2021, Gen-Z is extremely motivated for career advancement, with 76% believing that learning is the key to success.
To satisfy Gen Z job seekers’ desire to quickly move up in the workplace, companies must provide rewarding learning experiences that have a clear connection to career advancement.
If companies fail to do this, they’ll likely start seeing their youngest workers move on to employers who will, a la The Great Resignation.
Self-service. This is the generation that grew up learning from YouTube tutorials. They’re used to efficient, self-paced, self-service learning, and, when it comes to taking on a new role, they want the same.
Generation Z workers feel most comfortable with easy-to-consume, digital instructions, and the more formal, in-person training many older generations are used to makes less sense for these younger employees.
Businesses need to be able to transfer relevant skills with short, succinct, on-demand, self-served information.
Sophisticated user experiences. Legacy 90s intranets and other outdated software will have this generation running toward the exit door.
Gen Z spends 71% of their digital time on smartphone apps. They’re used to sleek, fast, and intuitive interfaces. To entice employee engagement, companies should transfer these UX expectations to their workplace and company culture.
To thrive at work, Gen Z needs to be able to easily navigate the digital workplace and feel like the technology is assisting them, not making things harder.
Personalization. Generation Z grew up with and in personalized digital experiences. They get it from every digital space they enter – Google, Netflix, Amazon, Instagram, TikTok, etc. – and their expectation is that the technology at work should serve them in similar ways.
Enterprises with outdated intranets and resources that are impossible to find in the digital realm will be perceived as behind-the-curve and out of touch with current technology.
Flexible Schedules. The pandemic changed the way most people worked. For a Gen Z worker, on the other hand, it was their first workplace experience. They can’t imagine anything different now.
Young workers seem to be drawn to the hybrid work structure, even over remote work. They likely won’t even consider applying for roles that are 100% in-office with rigid schedules and structured in-person expectations.
How Can Companies Create a Digital Workplace That’s Fit for Gen Z Workers?
Here are a few ways to foster Gen Z-friendly digital workplaces:
- Personalize the workplace with artificial intelligence (AI). Only AI can provide the kind of one-to-one personalization Gen Z is used to, at scale.
Enterprises can provide unique experiences for their Gen Z workforce by using AI-powered search to learn about their user intent on digital work platforms.
This will help bring them the kind of tailored knowledge experiences Gen Z is accustomed to everywhere else.
- Asynchronous collaboration to support flexible schedules. Companies can now bring knowledge to the modern communication tools they use, such as Slack.
When AI is used within those tools, it powers more effective collaboration, especially in a hybrid workplace with teams often working at a distance.
- Knowledge management initiatives that enable self-service from anywhere. From hiring to onboarding to professional development, companies can help Gen Z excel and grow in their roles on their own terms.
A key tactic is to offer hiring and training materials, benchmark expectations, and learning goals in a centralized location like an intranet or self-service portal.
This empowers Gen Z to learn, grow, and meet expectations for progress at work.
- Provide a user experience that meets expectations. Employees shouldn’t have to waste their work hours searching high and low for the information they need to do their job. (Unfortunately, too many employees spend 4.2 hours a day doing just this.)
To meet Gen Z’s expectations, companies should prioritize making it easy for them to find what they need through AI-powered content recommendations, query suggestions, and other meaningful personalizations across digital platforms.
- Create consistent experiences at every touchpoint. Gen Z is used to seamless integrations between social networks, communication apps, and even things like personal finance and digital banking. Their digital platforms talk to each other and work together to provide a better, simpler overall experience for this young generation.
Employers must connect their digital workplace in the same way, providing a familiar experience at every touchpoint of the employee experience.
The moral of the story? Generation Z is going to soon make up a large portion of the workplace, and if enterprises want to effectively hire, train, and retain Gen Z talent, they will need to offer personalized and responsive digital experiences at work.
Employees are looking for better prospects en masse. To create a digital workplace that attracts and retains talent, you have to understand that search is the throughline of the modern virtual office.
We dig into all the ways you can do this, using AI-powered search, in our ebook, Guide to Delivering AI-Powered Employee Experiences.