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Move Over Millennials, Generation Z is Here

Just when companies were starting to feel confident in their understanding of Millennials, along comes a new generation entering the workforce — Generation Z. Loosely defined as those born between 1994 and 2010, Gen Zers have unique characteristics that companies will need to learn about and accommodate. Considered to be the first generation of digital natives, Gen Zers were born and raised with high-speed internet, smartphones, instant and unlimited access to news and social media. And by the end of 2019, Gen Zers are expected to comprise 32 percent of the world’s population, surpassing millennials as the largest age group.

Attracting these technology proficient workers requires attention now. With 83% of students today considering it appropriate to spend less than three years at their first job and 27% believing it is appropriate to stay for less than one year, it will take a strong understanding of what makes Gen Zers tick to create and maintain the high-level of engagement necessary to not only attract them, but to keep them motivated to stay.

Here are some of the defining traits of Generation Z:

  • “The” mobile and social generation
  • Value availability and transparency
  • Crave instant information and consume it at incredible speeds
  • Prefer to communicate with icons and images, short bursts of content
  • Appreciate simplicity, personalized experiences
  • Require perpetual, self-paced learning and continuous feedback
  • Like collaboration and competition
  • Want instant gratification, enjoy rewards and recognition by supervisors and peers
  • Need technology to keep pace

Gamification, the use of game mechanics to improve employee productivity, efficiency and engagement, provides an excellent platform for addressing all of these traits. Take a closer look at each of them and see what your company can do, today, to prepare for Generation Z.

“The” mobile and social generation / Value availability and transparency

Gen Zers reach for their cell phones about every 7 minutes. Their phone is their preferred way of staying informed and keeping in touch with the latest updates on everything, including what’s happening in the company they work. They demand availability and transparency and quickly become disillusioned without them. Be sure that your business applications are mobile-ready and can be accessed easily by your employees whenever they want and wherever they are.

The top three social networks for Gen Zers are Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat, followed by Pinterest, Tumblr and WhatsApp. Although some Gen Zers are considering taking a break from general usage of some of today’s social networks, they will seek out new ones. For this reason, it is important to keep abreast of new networks as they emerge. Also, Gen Zers still follow brands and consume branded content. Companies wanting to attract and retain these employees should have a defined social engagement strategy that includes a presence on several social networks as well as an internal social channel for disseminating company content and encouraging two-way communication.

A gamification platform that can be accessed from a mobile device keeps Gen Zers connected to the company at all times. It sends notifications to employees on all activities in near real-time and provides the level of availability and transparency that these newcomers need to stay engaged and feel part of the corporate community. Gamification can also be used to encourage the use of internal and external social networks by rewarding employees for their efforts.

Instant information / Short bursts of content / Simple and personalized

Gen Z employees are impressively good at multitasking. They banter routinely and consume information exceptionally quickly. The constant deluge of data has reduced their attention span to just 8.25 seconds. Fast Company characterizes it as a “highly evolved eight-second filter,” citing their expertise for rapidly sorting and assessing the massive amount of content that is always at their fingertips.

Since Gen Zers usually engage with several sources at one time, they prefer to receive their content in short bursts. They also prefer applications that are well designed — optimized and personalized, clean and uncluttered. They are used to consumer apps and expect enterprise applications to have a similar sleek and simple design with icons and images versus wordy descriptions and long paragraphs of text.

Gamification dashboards aggregate performance stats and the most important information in one location. The simple design with large fonts, icons and colors prioritizes data and makes it easy to read at a glance. Employees can even access CRM, WFM, and speech analytics content from the same screen.

In addition, employees can personalize their dashboard by creating their own persona, adding pictures and choosing their own wallpaper and avatar. They can also decide who they want to share information with through their profile.

Perpetual, self-paced learning and continuous feedback

Generation Zers like to be in control of their own destiny. They are fiercely independent, resourceful and prefer on-demand learning. An e-library with online courses, tutorials and training documents that can be accessed and completed any time is attractive to this self-directed generation. When Gen Zers are provided with self-paced training options, they feel empowered and are more engaged and happier. Opportunity for on-going learning is also important. Gen Zers are not afraid of working hard to achieve success and advancement.

Although they are self-reliant when in comes to training, Gen Zers also crave unbiased and continuous feedback. They want goals to be clear and they want to know how well they are performing against their goals and peers at all times.

When one of the nation’s largest student loan servicers started using Noble Gamification to train their contact center agents, they compared completion rates of two groups – one that trained through the gamification platform and one that trained without gamification. Those that trained through gamification had a 184% higher completion rate than those that didn’t.

The right gamification platform allows for perpetual, self-paced learning. The solution tracks all learning activity and rewards completion. Gamification also provides continuous feedback. On the personalized dashboard, employees can see how they are performing relative to all their KPIs and how they are trending toward their goals. They can also see how well they are doing compared to their peers. This is ideal for Gen Zers because it allows them to course correct on their own, ask their supervisor for coaching when they see they are underperforming, and even reach out for help to colleagues that are strong in the areas that they are weak.

Collaboration and competition

In an article about what Generation Zers expect from their workplace, a university student indicated that she is looking for a company that values collaboration and experimentation. Gen Zers also embrace collaborative and social learning to develop skills and experiences that help them solve problems and improve performance faster. They are also competitive. They like to clearly understand what is required of them and then they set out to achieve it. They are driven to succeed and want to be the first to finish the task, meet the goal, and win the prize.

Gamification is highly effective at keeping Gen Zers engaged through both individual and collaborative contests and competitive ideation strategies. These types of activities build a strong sense of community and help to accelerate learning and success. With gamification, employees always know where they stand and how much farther they need to go to achieve their goals. 

Instant gratification / Rewards and recognition

Generation Z is accustomed to getting instant information at any time. Along with instant information, they want instant results and gratification. Technology has made this possible, and Gen Zers have come to expect it. In addition, Gen Zers like to be rewarded and recognized for their accomplishments. And they don’t want to wait too long for that either.

Gamification provides a constant stream of updated information. Notifications make everyone aware when there are new messages, updates to task completion and stats on how well employees are doing against goals and their peers. These updates are available instantaneously to managers as well which allows them to recognize team members for accomplishments and reach out with a congratulatory note immediately. Leaderboards throughout the facility keep everyone apprised, giving peers an opportunity to send their congratulations as well. This can energize and motivate employees to achieve even greater levels of performance.

Another attribute of gamification is the ability to break down goals into smaller objectives in order to create milestone targets to reward and recognize accomplishments more often. This helps to provide the instant gratification Gen Zers crave.

Technology that keeps pace

Generation Z may seem impatient to employers. That’s not really an accurate assessment. As we’ve already established, this generation was born and raised in a digital world. As a result of the availability of faster and faster technology, information on whatever is desired has always been available instantly, anywhere, from any device. Employers trying to attract Gen Zers need to be mindful that manual processes, siloed databases and outdated technology will not cut the mustard.

By providing a sophisticated gamification platform that connects with other enterprise applications and communication programs, you can appeal to Gen Z’s need for speed and technology that keeps up with their demands.

Shifting expectations reveals a skills gap

The proliferation of technology and automated processes that do more of the work that humans used to do means that many of jobs waiting for Generation Z professionals will require a higher level of critical thinking. They will also require interpersonal skills, and while many Gen Zers are technology savants, they tend to be deficient in their ability to develop and maintain interpersonal relationships.

Gamification is ideal for training and coaching on virtually any type of desired behavior. Games can be created to nurture the “soft” skills such as communication and interpersonal aptitude that Gen Zers may need to develop. Fabio Viola, an education coordinator of the Master in Engagement & Gamification at the IED of Milan, expects that with Gen Z entering the workforce, “a good part of the investment over the next few years will be in the gamification enterprise.”

What are you doing to attract and retain Generation Z?