Effective Business Communication for Millennials & Gen Z
Strong communication skills form the foundation for lasting career success. While this principle is equally true for today’s workforce as it was a century ago, advancements in technology are widening the generational divide in how we think about business communication.
As digital natives, many millennials and members of Generation Z develop practical technology skills before embarking on their career paths. While these adaptable young professionals may be equipped to master new platforms and engage each other virtually, they may not be as seasoned in the art of face-to-face communication compared with their senior colleagues. Differences in life experiences, social norms, and economic factors can further contribute to the generational communication gap. By understanding the range of communication styles at play in a multigenerational workplace, professionals of all ages experience levels can learn to listen and collaborate more effectively.
To learn more, check out the infographic below created by Maryville University.
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Statistics on Millennials and Gen Z Entering the Workforce
There are 61 million members of Gen Z, and they have already begun entering the workforce – 50% of which currently consists of millennials. Compared to previous generations, millennials and Gen Z tend to have different views on and expectations for the workplace and their careers.
The Millennial Point of View
Born between 1981 and 1996, millennials came of age during the internet explosion. According to Udemy’s 2018 Millennials at Work Report, they want greater work schedule flexibility, prefer in-person workplace communication, and put a premium on healthcare benefits. They also believe in skill refinement via online courses and books.
According to the Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2019, 49% of millennials plan to leave their current employer within the next two years. Reasons cited include pay dissatisfaction, lack of advancement opportunities, and poor work/life balance.
Generation Z Career Expectations
Also known as Centennials, Founders, and iGen, Gen Z members were born after 1995 and grew up in an “always-on” technology environment. According to a 2017 study of Gen Z and millennials by the Center for Generational Kinetics, most freelance, work part time, or earn an allowance. The majority also watched at least one online video in the past week to learn a new skill. Gen Zers also desire a flexible work schedule and wish they were stronger communicators.
Views on the Gig Economy
The Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2019 found “the gig economy appeals to 4 in 5 millennials and Gen Zs.” 50% of millennials would consider working in that way, although only 6% have chosen to do so. Reasons for considering joining the gig economy include the opportunity to earn more money, a better work/life balance, and flexible hours, Deterrents include unpredictable income and hours as well as difficulty planning for the future.
5 Challenges Facing Millennials and Gen Z
Millenials and Gen Z grew up in very different times compared to Gen X and baby boomers. Naturally, these younger generations will face unique challenges in the workplace.
For instance, the growing rates of educational attainment are raising the bar for job candidates. Because a higher percentage of millenials held at least a bachelor’s degree than prior generations, employers may have higher expectations when reviewing the education and skills of millennials and Gen Z job applicants.
Another challenge involves the disruption of entry-level jobs due to automation. As automated tech changes how entry-level tasks are handled, Gen Z and millennial workers in certain industries may have fewer opportunities to cultivate essential skills that knowledge that aligns with an organization’s culture.
The tech skills gap is a challenge that specifically concerns Gen Z. A study of 4,000 Gen Zers found that 92% are worried about the ways that tech is creating a generational gap in their professional and personal lives. It should be noted that the median age of employees at successful tech companies is under 35.
Additionally, perceptions of tech differ across generations. Older generations, for instance, are more comfortable with traditional communication than younger workers, who are used to digital communication and real-time communication tools like Slack.
Finally, there is concern that a dependence on tech may hinder millenials’ development of communication skills. Studies show nearly 40% of millenials admit to spending more time on their phones than physically interacting with people.
Effective Communication for Business Professionals
Proper communication contributes to relationship building and helps develop tacit knowledge, like specific information about customers or organization-specific processes. Tacit knowledge is difficult to learn digitally and should be transferred in person. That’s why it’s so critical for millenials and Gen Z to actively develop their interpersonal communication skills.
There are several tips employees can use to help develop workplace communication skills. These include asking for a script of a typical phone conversation, asking about communication expectations, practicing small talk on a regular basis, and asking for specific feedback from managers.
There are also several ways to build effective communication in the workplace. These tactics include defining appropriate guidelines, understanding nonverbal communication, using assertive language, and embracing clarity.
Communication is such a fundamental aspect of human existence that business professionals can easily overlook the importance of skills in this area. Fortunately, millennials and Gen Z recognize the need for communication skills to succeed in the workplace. With the help of experienced leaders and older generations, millennials and Gen Z have the potential to become the most flexible communicators to date, using a host of mediums to communicate.