Millennials and Gen Z are now the dominant generations in the workforce.
With the Baby Boomer generation on their way out, Millennials and Gen Z represent more than half of the workforce.
Any new generation entering the workforce often prompts comparisons to the generations that came before. Predictions, often accurate and sometimes not, are made on how the generation would disrupt the workforce.
Millennials, for example, have a different set of motivations to remain engaged at work. They and Gen Z have also been the generations most conversant with technology. Quite naturally, their being in the workforce prompted new forms of communication and a more pronounced shift towards technology.
While these two generations have operated on an ‘always-connected’ mode, they have redefined employee-employer relationships and are now moving into management positions.
Contrary to the ‘lazy’ and entitled labels that have been assigned prematurely and unfairly to this demographic, research shows that millennials are a hardworking lot, with 73% of them working more than 40-hour work weeks. 26% globally work more than two jobs.
Gen Z and Millennials have their foot on the gas when it comes to preparing for their career ultramarathon. We say ‘ultramarathon’ because the climate of constant change and disruption have become an indelible part of the business environment. And Millennials and Gen Z, much like long-distance runners, have their eyes on the horizon and are planning for ‘what’s next’.
These generations are not motivated just by paychecks anymore. While the money is important, these two generations look for a shared purpose and an opportunity to grow and thrive. It becomes essential for organizations to first identify what inspires and motivates this talent to draw up strategies that ensure retention.
Coaching emerges as an influential tool to drive, motivate, and retain this workforce. It also ensures that the organization’s leadership pipeline has skilled, qualified, and well-adjusted individuals capable of leading the organization to success. However, run-of-the-mill coaching programs are unlikely to make the cut for this generation.
Here are some coaching strategies to drive Millennials and Gen Z at work –
Develop strong interpersonal and highly cognitive social skills
Millennials and Gen Z have been the ‘always-connected’ generation with technology being omnipresent in their lives. While they bring an unprecedented level of technical skills to the table, it is hard to ignore their apprehensions on their ability to communicate with peers and form strong interpersonal relationships.
Most of Gen Z, for example, acknowledge the importance of in-person communication while accepting their challenges with the same. Highly cognitive social skills such as critical thinking, strategic thinking, and problem-solving also need development.
In a business environment where almost 92% of HR leaders place great importance on emotional and social skills, it is only prudent to design coaching strategies that bridge this gap.
Develop Tacit Knowledge
Tacit knowledge is the knowledge specific to job roles, processes, customers, and other organizations’ subtleties such as culture. Passing down tacit knowledge is essential to enable leadership development and drive long-term success. Hence, coaching strategies for millennials and Gen Z need to focus on this heavily.
Contrary to the argument that a day-long training session might suffice here, building tacit knowledge is an instructive process that needs to focus on the technical aspect as well as on building and honing the power skills of the generation. It needs to ensure that along with the technical knowledge, they become more self-reliant, skilled, and thoughtful employees who are aligned with the organization’s goals. Such employees can improvise when things are tough and are quick to identify improvement opportunities.
As Millennials move into managerial roles, it becomes essential to develop this vocabulary to help them pass on tacit knowledge with skill and positively impact the organization.
Keep it contextual
The generational machinations of Millennials and Gen Z lend them to be more questioning in nature. They also are driven by context and relevance. They are highly invested in learning opportunities and want ‘careers’ as opposed to ‘jobs’.
Hence, organizations have to provide them with these learning opportunities as well as provide them with concrete and directed avenues of leadership development.
Coaching plays a vital role here. However, organizations need to build focused and outcome-driven coaching conversations by making them relevant and contextual to their needs. Tests such as Behavioral Assessment tests or 16 Personality Factor tests based on self-evaluation provide context and relevance this generation demands. It also helps them become invested in learning opportunities since these are based on quantified data.
Leveraging AI-enabled coaching platforms also aid the coaching process by ensuring the right coach- coached (Jedi) pairing. These platforms provide personalized, contextual AI bot nurture touch points to address each individual’s skill gap and unique learning process.
Actionable insights from analytics on skill development, performance, employee engagement, and more can be further used to improve the quality of the coaching conversations and keep these generations invested in their growth story.
Reskilling and upskilling are incomplete without coaching
According to the Future of Jobs report, more than ‘a third of the desired core skill sets of most occupations will comprise of skills that are not yet considered crucial for the job today. This, and many such other reports, show the changing skill requirements. And yes, Millennials and Gen Z also fall in this category.
As a response to this challenge, organizations have accelerated this reskilling and upskilling initiatives. However, these initiatives for the Millennial and Gen Z demographic need to account for the technical upskilling as well as the power/soft skill upskilling. Coaching is the only way to ensure that technical upgrades are complemented with behavioral skill upgrades to make sure that the workforce is prepared to fill their new roles and also become capable leaders of tomorrow.
Keeping Millennials and Gen Z engaged is hard work for organizations, especially with the rise of the gig economy and the subsequent rise of the digital nomads. The gig economy is characterized by freelance work and short-term contracts as opposed to permanent job roles. ‘Collaborative economy’, ‘sharing economy’, or ‘crowdsourcing’ are some of the synonyms that are fast finding their way into the vocabulary of these two demographics.
However, while the gig economy is lucrative, it is also ambiguous. Since this economy is growing stronger, organizations have to develop strategies to keep the Millennials and Gen Z workforce away from this lure.
Recent research from Deloitte shows that job loyalty from this demographic has risen as businesses address employee needs from ‘from diversity and inclusion to sustainability and reskilling.’
To keep this workforce engaged and invested, organizations have to appeal to their values, build a sense of shared purpose, show investment in their career growth and have concrete mechanisms in place to help them achieve professional success. These are the primary ways to retain and keep this workforce engaged, and organizations can attain this by having robust coaching strategies in place.
Contact us to evaluate how you can leverage AI-driven, highly contextual coaching programs to keep the Millennial and Gen Z workforce engaged and invested at work.