By Susman Biswas
With Gen Z expected to join the workforce in large numbers in 2019, organizations need to rethink their collaboration and communication strategies. We explore critical challenges to effective workplace communication and share three strategies to win with collaboration and communication in 2019.
While most conversations around the future of work primarily centered on Millennials over the past few years, there is a new generation steadily making inroads into the world of work. Generation Z or Gen Z is the name applied to the cohort of young people born between 1996 and 2010, and like every other generation before them, Gen Zers bring their unique expectations, skills, and ideas to the workplace.
Expected to expected to make up 24 percent of the global workforce by 2020, Gen Z is already making its presence felt in the workplace, with many dubbing them as the “Slack Generation” due to their need for speedy and instant communication. So, it is no surprise that Gen Z are natural networkers. Or that they’re looking to work in collaborative environments to share their innovative thoughts and ideas with peers. A recent survey commissioned by 8×8 found that only 19 percent of Gen Zers prefer email for communication. Clearly, email alone isn’t going to cut it when communicating with these young, digitally savvy employees.
Communication and Collaboration Strategies for Gen Z Employees
Organizations need to relook at their communication and collaboration technology stack to ensure they meet the high digital expectations of Gen Z employees. While collaboration tools like Slack and Microsoft Team have enjoyed massive popularity, do they really helping employees be more productive? Communication overload can often be a source of interruption to focused work. Simon Dance, CEO at Interact believes, organizations today need a centralized communications stack to improve productivity and engage with a multigenerational workforce.
Simon says, “With different generational preferences in the workplace come a myriad of applications being used in the enterprise. Boomers may prefer email, while Gen Z is drawn to messaging tools like Slack. Centralizing communication technologies is critical to avoid an overflow of apps. This also helps keep employee experience at the forefront, as it facilitates a smoother transition between apps and other collaboration tools. To achieve this, tools need to be streamlined and looped together in the same place so they can be easily accessed by any employee at any time, regardless of where they may be. By unifying these tools, employees can easily share information and data with each other, without needing to reinvent the wheel.”
In fact, significant research has been conducted on how emails and IM are affecting employees’ mental and social wellbeing, with psychologists calling it “Technostress.” Organizations need to ensure that their collaboration and communication tools address collaboration challenges and ultimately help employees become more efficient at work.
“Rolling out new technology without adequate employee feedback is always dangerous. It’s important to keep the pulse of employee sentiment on which tools are working and which aren’t. Without the input from your employees, you run into the risk of having a rocky rollout of a technology that doesn’t align with the needs of the company,” observes Simon. “Once the technology rollout has begun, companies can get into hot water if they don’t communicate changes and updates clearly. Look, deploying a new collaboration strategy is a big deal. It impacts people across all aspects of a business, so it’s vital to leverage internal communications channels to properly convey what is happening.”
Rather than simply deploying any new collaborative technology across the board, organizations must consider the impact that this new technology will have on the flow of work. “It’s beneficial to continually gauge employees’ thoughts and feelings on how the new deployment and strategy have been going. Real-time feedback, by way of employee net promoter score, or eNPS, will ensure that your employee’s needs and are being met. These can be done easily through short pulse surveys to the entire office. Not developing this feedback loop is a surefire way to complicate the execution of a new collaboration process,” adds Simon.
3 Essentials of an Effective Collaboration Stack
Gen Z favors flexibility in how they choose to communicate with their peers, rather than rely solely on a single tool. They may use multiple tools such as iMessage or Slack, for example. Simon says, “Centralization, self-service, and social aspects are all key facets of an effective communication and collaboration technology stack.”
Let’s look at how each of these factors impacts collaboration and communication within the workplace:
- Centralization: As organizations look to improving team productivity, messaging platforms provide a tremendous opportunity. Enabling seamless connectivity on the go through one centralized tool can help employees stay on top of the latest conversations around projects and future initiatives. “A streamlined, centralized approach encourages collaboration across teams, and keeps employees engaged with one another and in-tune with the company’s messaging,” says Simon.
- Self-service: We know that Gen Z prefers flexibility in the way they collaborate with colleagues, which is why having a self-service model of communication and collaboration lets your employees have the power to choose their own experiences, instead of having to rely on HR.
- Social: Finally, incorporating social media elements in your communication and collaboration strategies allows for employees to engage with one another in a way that doesn’t feel outdated and appeals to the ever-growing number of Gen Z and Millennial employees. “By giving employees a way to instantly connect and share information and resources with one another across all different teams and departments, it naturally encourages greater collaboration,” adds Simon.
Collaboration and communication tools are here to stay, whether we like or not. When deployed well, they can enhance productivity and teamwork, regardless of how geographically diverse an organization may be. Having a centralized, self-serve, and social collaboration technology is integral for organizations looking to succeed with a multigenerational workforce today.
Biswas Sushman serves up bleeding-edge ways for organizations to harness HR technology to drive growth at HR Technologist. In charge of the editorial content at HRT, Sushman comes from a B2B content marketing background where he worked closely with global thought leaders across industries including Finance, Marketing, Human Resources and Cyber Security. When not writing, Sushman loves his motorcycling holidays.
Get in touch with him at firstname.lastname@example.org.