19 days ago -

Bridging the gap: How to engage the MZ Generation

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Gen Zs and Millennials will soon form the bulk of the workforce. But how should employers keep them engaged and productive? Here are 3 actionable tips.

While Millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996) currently make up the bulk of today’s labor force, Generation Z or ‘Zoomers’ (those born between 1997 and 2012) who are just starting to enter the workforce will eventually take over in the coming years. 

In Singapore, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Manpower, residents aged 30 to 44 (Millennials) make up 35% of the labor force. Meanwhile, about 16% of the country’s labor force consists of Gen Z (aged 15 to 29). Combined, the MZ Generation (Millennials and Gen Z members born between 1980 and 2005) make up half of the local labor force.

In general, each generation has its own distinctive traits. For instance, having grown up in a diverse and connected world, Gen Z championed social causes like equality and sustainability. This extends to the workplace, where they are strong believers in equal opportunities, and seek an inclusive work environment where they feel like they are valued members of the organization.

Zoomers grew up with the internet and mobile technology at their fingertips and entered the workforce amid the pandemic where remote work and collaboration technologies are the norm. Hence, it’s no surprise that they seek a modern work environment with efficient technology tools and value work-life balance and flexibility.

Employers Face a Challenge: Engaging Gen Z And Millennials

Shaped by their digital-native upbringing and evolving social values, Gen Z's digital fluency and social values offer a fresh take on work. However, keeping them engaged is a challenge for employers in Singapore, particularly when it comes to work-life balance expectations. The latest Q3 2024 ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Surveyrevealed that work-life balance expectations (41%) and employee engagement and motivation (39%) are the top two challenges Singapore employers face with new workers with less than 10 years in the workforce. 

Rounding out the top five challenges are: 

  • Career advancement expectations (38%)

  • Workplace technology expectations (34%)

  • Lacking skills to perform their role (32%)

A similar trend can be seen globally, where employee engagement and motivation (34%), work-life balance expectations (32%), and career advancement expectations (32%). With that in mind, what are some strategies employers can leverage to motivate and engage the MZ Generation?

Strategies for Boosting Engagement and Productivity of Gen Z And Millennials

The survey also revealed employers in Singapore found that improving technology tools (78%) and emphasizing well-being (78%) are the top two drivers in boosting engagement and productivity of their newer workforce. Other initiatives employers found effective for managing the younger generation include:

  • Formal leadership coaching and mentoring programs (77%)

  • Increased compensation and financial stability (76%)

  • Increased focus on purpose and values (76%)

Similarly, global employers found improving technology tools (76%) and emphasis on overall well-being (75%)the most effective. Based on that, here are some tips on how employers can effectively leverage the top three drivers in boosting engagement and productivity of Gen Z and Millennials. 

1. Improving Technology Tools

When implementing new technology tools, some things to keep in mind include:

  • Usability and user experience (UI/UX): Tech tools implemented should have visually appealing user interfaces, be intuitive and easy to navigate, and take a mobile first approach.

  • Prioritize efficiency and automation: Look for tools that automate repetitive tasks and reduce manual data entry, can integrate seamlessly with each other, as well as facilitate real-time collaboration and communication.

  • Innovation and future-proofing: Consider if the tools can integrate with emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence or virtual reality (VR) as they become relevant to the workplace? Ensure that the tools are regularly updated and improved to meet evolving needs.

  • Accessibility: Ensure the tools are accessible for everyone, including those with disabilities.

  • Training and Support: Provide adequate training and support for employees to learn and use the new tech tools effectively.

Other than that, it’s important to focus on the "why" instead of just implementing new tools for the sake of it.

2. Emphasizing Well-being

For employees to be productive, it’s crucial for them to feel like they are in an environment where they can do their best work some ways in which organizations can emphasize well-being include: 

  • Work-life balance: Promote healthy balance with limits on working overtime and flexible work arrangements such as flexi hours and remote work options to accommodate different working preferences. Additionally, management can model healthy work-life balance and encourage open communication about workload, stress, and mental health.

  • A holistic approach to wellness: Take a 360-degree view on wellness encompassing five key dimensions – mental & emotional, physical, social, occupational and financial wellness. Actionable strategies include offering diverse options such as mental health support, mindfulness training, fitness programs, financial wellness workshops, team-building activities

  • Personalized wellness programs: Instead of a one-size fits all approach to wellness, consider implementing a flexible wellness program with a variety of resources to cater to diverse needs and allow employees to choose the programs they want to participate in.

  • Purpose-driven work:A recent survey by Jobs_that_makesense and Manpower revealed that in 98% of Southeast Asians, 98% found having meaning at work important to them. To enhance meaning at work, Southeast Asians are looking for better work conditions, as well as advocacy for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) and other social causes. Apart from that, it’s also important to communicate the company's mission, values, and impact regularly to employees, involve them in decision-making processes, and highlight how their work contributes to these goals.

These strategies address key priorities for younger generations, fostering a supportive and engaging work environment that enhances both productivity and well-being.

3. Implement Formal Leadership Coaching and Mentoring Programs 

Implementing formal leadership coaching and mentoring programs helps Gen Z and Millennials feel valued and supported, enhancing their commitment to the organization. 

Here are some things to consider when implementing these programs: 

  • Focus on development: Prioritize skill-building (communication, collaboration) over traditional leadership styles and incorporate discussions on purpose, social responsibility, and ethical leadership which the younger generation are passionate about.

  • Collaborative approach to mentorship: When implementing mentorship programs, match mentors and mentees carefully based on personality, goals, and leadership styles. Ensure that mentors are trained to take a collaborative approach to mentorship, utilizing open dialogue and regular, specific feedback. 

  • Flexibility and customization: Offer program options with varying time commitments and consider incorporating technology for online learning modules or progress tracking.

  • Evaluation and adaptation: Regularly track program outcomes to ensure they align with the objective and create a safe environment for open communication and expressing ideas to facilitate regular feedback and adapt the program to the employee's changing needs.

Not only do these strategies help enhance younger employees’ commitment to the organization, but it also helps equip them with the skills and knowledge they need to become successful future leaders in the future.

The Future of Work: A Collaborative Effort

Engaging Gen Z and Millennials isn't just about keeping up with the times; it's about investing in the future of work. These generations bring a unique set of skills, perspectives, and a drive for positive change.

This requires a shift in perspective. It’s not just about offering interesting perks or trendy office spaces. It’s about recognizing their strengths and catering to their needs and the key lies in collaboration. Employers should listen to the needs and aspirations of the MZ Generation, and these younger workers, in turn, should be open to adapting and learning within the workplace.

By creating an engaging and supportive work environment, companies can unlock the full potential of Gen Z and Millennials to ensure the future workforce that is innovative, productive, and dedicated to making a difference.

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