23 years old.
That’s the average age of the over 600 Personiv Manila employees, officially making Gen Z —which includes individuals that were born roughly between the years of 1996 and 2012 — the majority of the talent pool there. There’s been a recent interest in Gen Z and how they’ll fit into a workplace that includes the four generations before them. It’s a timely topic, with the oldest members of this new group heading out into the workplace in Manila and across the world.
Gen Z is Unlike Any Previous Entry-Level Talent Pool
In many ways, Gen Z is a generation of “firsts”. They’re the first true digital natives, for instance. In the United States, they are the first generation that won’t have a white majority. In a lot of ways, Gen Z is the first truly global generation, too. Constant connectivity, a strong desire to travel and the boundary-less communication social media provides makes Gen Z the first to share a relatively uniform worldview. The interest and chatter about Gen Z are rooted in two facts.
One, if you manage people in any capacity, you’ll soon be managing this generation if you aren’t already. Two, to manage any team effectively, you have to understand what makes them tick.
That brings us back to Personiv Manila and our very own Gen Z team members there. Paulo Cheung – Executive Vice President and Site Head of Operations for Personiv in Manila, knows a thing or two about effectively managing the top talent coming from Gen Z. Here’s his insight on finding, retaining and managing the generation of workers that’s expected to change the face of global work for good.
Gen Z is a Generation of "Techies" Entering the Workforce
The first thing Cheung noticed about the incoming wave of Generation Z workers at Personiv Manila is how technologically-minded they are. Specifically, he says, when it comes to the mobile devices they use as a primary tether to the world and their peers. From gaming to socializing to communicating, Gen Z’s tool of choice is the mobile phone.
“They are very tech-savvy,” Cheung noted. “They are assets to Personiv because of their digital and technology expertise, and know-how to glean information more easily from different omnichannel and social media platforms.”
Key Retention Strategy #1
Adopt a company culture that gets employees engaged with one another through simple fun. Activities that spark creative freedom can draw Gen Z away from the screen and get them to slow down and connect.
Listen Up: Generation Z has A Lot to Say
Another quality unique to Gen Z? Cheung has noticed that they’re empowered and outspoken. Globally concerned and used to having a platform, expect Gen Z to say what’s on their minds. If you’ve heard that the Gen Z is antisocial and better managed from behind a screen, you’re mistaken. Cheung is adamant that a team that feels empowered to speak up and speak out is an asset. “They will thrive in an environment that is collaborative,” Cheung said. “One where they can be heard, at a company that is inclusive and gives them a purpose that goes beyond meeting their basic needs.”
Part of what makes Gen Z so valuable, Cheung insists, is that they have ideas – good ideas – that they’re willing to share with their employers and weave into the work they do, provided that work is important to them and someone is willing to listen. “They are an ambitious group that knows what they want in their careers. They are proactive where other generations have been reactive. They could be the next Jeff Bezos or Mark Zuckerburg, which is a huge advantage to businesses as long as you create a process where they can share their views, opinions and suggestions,” he advises.
Key Retention Strategy #2
Take a personal interest in what your employees have to say, and make a point of acknowledging their input. Don’t delegate this facet of management. “Have an avenue for employees to speak their mind fully,” Cheung advises, “like [Personiv’s] ‘We Hear You’ portal. Concerns go directly to my mailbox and I respond within 48 hours.”
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Adapting to Gen Z’s Short Attention Span
On the whole, the human attention span is changing. Call it short or call it selective, but whatever you call it, Cheung warns that one of the biggest challenges with Gen Z hires is managing it. He says Gen Z tends to, “want things instantly or as quickly as possible. They have a FOMO mentality.” On the micro-level, that could mean bored, unproductive employees. Zoom out, and there could be an attrition catastrophe waiting to happen. Gen Z craves novelty and is always looking for the next best thing, and sometimes the next best thing is a flashier job with shinier perks.
That doesn’t mean businesses are necessarily doomed to high turnover and disloyal employees, however.
Instead, the key to adapting your management style for a generation that’s always multitasking and looking for the next best thing that will grab their attention isn’t to cater to it or even resist it. Instead, think of how you can channel it.
Key Retention Strategy #3
From the date of hire, Cheung advises anyone looking to recruit and hang on to Gen Z talent to give their employees a sense of purpose and opportunity for growth. An authentic company culture with clear values in regard to corporate social responsibilities is vital. Those values allow for mutual investment between parties, and provide a sense of community, besides just being the right thing to do.
Timely supervisory feedback and coaching keep employee skills sharp, while recognition and the opportunity to advance with internal applicant only job postings will keep them from job-hopping because they feel they’ll never learn anything new or be promoted.