Fresh-faced Gen Z graduates are setting out on career paths with college degrees in hand, but they’re quickly realizing the professional world doesn’t quite reflect the academic life they’ve left behind. While the employment landscape saw a similar shake-up between millennials and baby boomers, the introduction of a third generation is set to cause an even more drastic shift.
As a result, it’s up to companies to embrace this emerging generation by developing and implementing an evolved onboarding process. To properly engage these new tech-savvy workers, traditional job training methods require a digital update that caters specifically to their unique work needs.
Embracing Digital Natives
As you formulate a new method for onboarding Gen Z employees, it’s important to meet them where they stand. This generation has grown up alongside widespread high-speed internet, smartphones, social media and instant access to news and information, so handing them reams of print media is more likely to overwhelm than engage them.
Instead, use mixed-media resources for the training portion of the onboarding process. By including a blend of text, video and interactive elements, you create a framework that caters to a wide variety of learning preferences. As a company leader, you can also introduce collaborative components to the training program to promote friendly competition among multiple new hires starting at the same time.
Opt for eLearning modules that encourage participation and provide instant, actionable feedback. Younger new hires value the opportunity to apply newly acquired knowledge immediately, and offering them an emulated workspace to do so builds confidence and facilitates observable results.
Gamify the onboarding process by simulating the systems of a video game. Training modules with an interactive component are effective at improving employee performance and aiding in information retention. This method can also incorporate a competitive quality that fosters social growth and team spirit within a company.
Furthermore, augment the training portion of the onboarding process with a roadmap that charts progress visually. This not only establishes transparency regarding company expectations but also appeals to the visually-minded learner. To connect this with a gamification model, consider breaking individual training phases into micro achievements that represent employees leveling up.
Lastly, more than any other generation, Gen Z favors direct guidance and immediate input from managers. This level of interactivity lays the groundwork for all other methods to build upon. Maintaining open communication regarding employee progress keeps younger workers engaged and accountable during each phase of the onboarding process.
Another effective strategy for engaging younger workers is to promote collaboration. While technology is a crucial component of Gen Z culture, it does not replace their preference for face-to-face guidance and feedback. A team of trainers informing and encouraging new hires speeds up the onboarding process and fulfills the need for social connection so inherent to Gen Z culture.
Also, consider assigning an onboarding buddy to your new hires to serve as a valuable resource of information, social interaction and encouragement. This colleague not only helps reinforce the information found in company training modules, they also help trainees integrate comfortably into company culture.
A major key in successfully onboarding younger workers is to acknowledge how employee and business expectations have evolved. Now more than ever, workers want to be more involved in the future success of a company. As a manager, it’s crucial to cultivate that interest and ambition from day one.
Create a visual road map to success that, like the training road map for initial onboarding, illustrates a projection of how an employee might move up in the hierarchy. In addition to providing yet another layer of transparency, it demarcates each advancement opportunity in clear yet comprehensive terms.
Throughout the years, business as a whole has continually reinvented itself to include new generational groups. As a result, onboarding has become a substantial investment in the future of your employees. As younger new hires take their first step into the professional world, it’s up to companies to clearly outline the path to advancement.
The Reality of Remote Work
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced an already evolving workplace to alter its trajectory in a very short amount of time. Where remote work used to be location-based and career-specific, most businesses have adopted a work-from-home strategy to some extent. Thankfully, digital natives are at the forefront of this sudden shift.
Onboarding a Gen Z employee while working remotely is typically less challenging than it is with older generations. Since younger employees have grown up in a tech-centric world, they are at ease with video calls, email and other forms of online communication. This makes the process of introducing new employees to a company a seamless operation.
Take advantage of their familiarity with technology and social media to help facilitate new employee onboarding. Company-wide chat programs provide instant feedback and project updates, while daily video check-ins with a new hire keep managers and trainers in the loop. Also, encourage the use of online platforms that cater to the specific needs of a business, such as assignment uploads, direct interfacing with clients and other worthwhile tools.