Gen Z in the workplace: Culture needs to be ‘frequent feedback’ focussedReading Time: 4 minutes
The only constant is change, right?
Well now that even the youngest millennials are well into their 20’s, change is a-coming with focus on the generational differences in the workplace shifting to the oh-so creatively titled ‘Generation Z’.
Generational divides are somewhat arbitrary, what with people of a wide age-range having kids year-round. But it’s true that children born after the millennial cut-off are in a unique position which is set to become the new norm, and early studies of Gen Z in the workplace have shown that many of these people value continuous feedback and communication.
Gen Z have been labelled the “tech generation”
While we’ve all grown up in more technologically advanced worlds than our parents, Gen Z are the first of us to be born into a world where the internet has become an ever-present staple of society. This will (bar some horrific Mad Max scenario) be the case for every new generation going forward.
But for now, they’re in a unique position.
Before Gen Z, we have already experienced previously unprecedented technological acceleration, and that doesn’t appear to be slowing down.
At some point in all our lives, the internet became what it is today.
Gen Z growing up with all this is significant because of the ability of children to learn at incredible speeds and the emphasis a move to a digital-first way of life has placed on instant gratification and direct, personal communication.
It probably also helps that they aren’t holding onto all the useless stuff that the rest of us are, like how to fix a cassette tape with a pencil, or what the internet sounds like on an ADSL dial-up.
Why feedback is important to Gen Z in the workplace
A 2018 survey by the Center for Generational Kinetics found that over 65% of Gen Z employees reported needing frequent feedback (at least once a week, ideally more often still) to stay in their current job.
We’ve already talked about how feedback can potentially reduce turnover. But that’s more a case of why it’s important for businesses. It doesn’t tell us why a lack of feedback is such a deal-breaker for Gen Z in the workplace.
Feedback matters to Gen Z, and a lot of employees in general, for a few reasons.
It exhibits a vested interest in their wellbeing and career development from management. Employees can also value feedback for the direction it provides their work, regardless of generation.
In 2015, before we had our first proper influx of Gen Z in the workplace, Gallup found that roughly half of surveyed employees were unclear of what was expected of them at work.
Feedback and approachability were also correlated with much higher rates of employee engagement.
How Gen Z in the workplace thrive on feedback
A study of 1,400 Gen Z professionals found that many handled feedback very well. 63% of respondents preferred feedback in a timely and constructive manner. They may even have the perfect mindset for receiving negative feedback, as 80% reported the belief that failure was something to be learned from (a stark increase from previous generations).
Aside from being a nice snapshot of the youngest generation in the workplace and what their strengths might be, this also highlights the efficacy of properly structured feedback. Without consistent feedback filling in the gaps, performance reviews can end up causing more harm than good, lead to them feeling like a tickbox exercise and even make employees hate them.
Tools for giving feedback in the workplace
If you want to give your employees access to regular feedback, it’s important to use the proper technology, especially if you’re managing a lot of people. After all, if you took the time to check in with everyone in-person each week, talking to each one long enough to properly hear their concerns, you’d lose hours of productivity.
Employee check-ins are one of the services we offer here at Weekly10. Leadership and managers (optionally) have control over everything from question customisation to update frequency.
Whether you’re checking in or reviewing someone’s update, it takes just a few minutes. A variety of question categories allow you to get a range of qualitative and quantitative data.
our ‘Recognition’ question type even allows employees to highlight each other’s accomplishments via mentions. Managers can also view the answer histories for any questions they have set, and answer specific questions to provide immediate, short-term feedback.
There’s also the increasing uptake of remote work. While remote work is very popular, the total implementation of it necessitated by lockdown has isolated many, including Gen Z employees. One study found that 79% of sampled UK workers working remotely during isolation reported feeling less connected with their co-workers. This rose to 81% of millennials and 85% of Gen Z specifically. Remote work has been one of our major focus topics recently, and it’s another layer to consider when giving feedback.
This employee feedback helps to ensure your people feel a connection to the business, and do not feel isolated from their team. When checking in with them, it can be useful to approximate an in-person 1-1 some of the time.
It’s important not to overdo it though, almost two-thirds of Gen Z respondents reported that the amount of time spent on video calls made it harder to get work done. We talked about the dangers of micromanaging remote employees last month, and it’s definitely worth a read.
If you would like to learn more about the role of feedback in the workplace, communicating with remote teams, or employee engagement in general, check out our blog today!