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Introducing Gen Z – “Millennials on Steroids”

The worldwide director of J Walter Thompson’s Innovation Group, Lucie Greene, famously referred to Gen Z or Gen Zers as “millennials on steroids”(i). Born in the late 1990s to the 2010s, this Snapchat, Smartphone generation are the first true digital natives (having never known a world without the Internet) and they are about to enter the workforce.

Understanding the Snapchat, Smartphone generation is essential for building highly effective contact center teams, says Daniel Mayer of Teleopti

The worldwide director of J Walter Thompson’s Innovation Group, Lucie Greene, famously referred to Gen Z or Gen Zers as “millennials on steroids”(i). Born in the late 1990s to the 2010s, this Snapchat, Smartphone generation are the first true digital natives (having never known a world without the Internet) and they are about to enter the workforce. Just as you thought you had Millennials covered, along comes another demographic to add to the mix.

As contact centers grapple with the demands of round-the-clock, multi-channel communications, employers need to keep one step ahead with a relevant recruitment strategy and innovative Workforce Management (WFM) infrastructure to match. It’s time to understand what Gen Z wants from work, if they differ from Millennials and how to make them part of an efficient, highly motivated contact center.

What makes Gen Z tick?
When job website giant Monster teamed up with global research firm TNS to find out what it takes to attract the Snapchatting, Smartphone addicted, video streaming generation, the results were surprising:(ii)

Entrepreneurial and self-reliant – 76 percent of Gen Zers believe they are owners of their career and nearly half (49 percent) want their own business; Money and security – are what Gen Zers value most and as a generation brought up in times of recession when family and friends lost jobs and homes, this makes absolute sense. Their ideal job package sounds more like their grandparents’ with health insurance and ‘a boss to respect’ high up on the list of demands!

Hard work – Gen Zers are no slackers with 58 percent saying they are willing to work nights or at weekends for a better salary and 74 percent prepared to move for a good job opportunity.

Growing up in an era of change means that Gen Zers are also prone to fierce competitiveness and independence as a survival mechanism. They want to know what the rules are and that they are fair. They also want to be judged on their own merits, showcase their individual successes and need regular recognition for their efforts and performance.

Millennials on Steroids?
So how do Gen Zers differ from their slightly older counterparts? Are they just “Millennials on Steroids” or are they completely different? When it comes to the workplace (iii)Gen Zers differ from Millennials in four ways. They are:

1.Independent vs collaborative – Gen Zers are often far more territorial than their Millennial colleagues, preferring to go it alone in the face of stiff competition.

2.Appreciate face-to-face communication – Gen Z has grown up with the benefit of experiencing communications using full sight, sound and motion such as Skype and Snapchat and can strike a happy balance between their online and offline worlds.

3.Prefer on demand learning vs formal learning – Gen Z has seen the pressures faced by Millennials burdened with years of university debt and are determined to be resourceful and find alternative ways to educate themselves.

4.Advocate role hopping vs job hopping – Gen Zers would prefer to have many different roles in the one place of employment to gain work experience.

Building a contact centre for the future
Rather than fear the arrival of another dynamic to the already complicated contact center environment, employers should focus on the WFM areas that bring out the best in Gen Zers and benefit all staff, whatever their age. Therefore, make the following your top priorities:

Self-service – will appeal to the independent, self-reliant nature of Gen Zers. Agents are empowered to control their own schedules, select breaks and lunches, swap shifts, and request time off with immediate feedback from their manager

Re-think your learning environment – be sure to develop a portfolio of different learning styles, a mixture of traditional in-classroom training and online or virtual sessions to suit all generations and use WFM to allow time for training. Take this one step further by tapping into Gen Zers’ need for on-demand interaction by creating a dedicated e-library of learning. This could feature anything from online tutorials to training documents and hints and tips from fellow colleagues. Make it collaborative so they can share their own thoughts and ideas with others. Finally, build e-library time into their busy work schedules to open up the doors to self-discovery at a stress-free pace.

Make room for ‘face’ time – the Snapchat generation grew up in a very visual world and can readily move between their online and offline worlds. They thrive on face-to-face communication so think of ways of incorporating this into the contact center especially when it comes to mentoring or team meetings. Make room for Skype and FaceTime to bring out the best in your Gen Zers. Consider extending this approach to your customers by creating a deeply immersive experience using the latest innovations in Virtual Reality.

Honest appraisals and rewards – make the most of advanced WFM reporting and dashboards to provide a real-time snapshot of performance in a fair and transparent way. Equally, communicate your company mission and procedures clearly and actively gain feedback for important decision-making – everyone likes to be involved, whatever their age.

Attract and retain the best talent – if Gen Zers thrive on role hopping rather than job hopping, give them the flexibility to move from department to department to learn something new. Contact center leaders should work with HR to build a work environment that makes them the employer of choice for all generations with clear career paths and continuous training. It might even stop those fickle Millennials from job hopping to the competition!

Be prepared to embrace staff from all generations using the latest WFM technology and you’ll be rewarded with a high-performing, multi-generational contact center that lowers attrition rates and recruitment costs and leads to satisfied customers and healthier profits.

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