7 rules of engagement for the modern workforce
It’s hard to believe, but Gen Z – those born around the turn of the Millennium – are about to enter the workforce. As they do, you’ll need to employ new strategies to increase employee engagement. Even before Gen Z become the majority group in your organization, the technological revolution has influenced the way in which we communicate at work.
Here I look at why your organization needs new rules of engagement in an age where integration of technology and social media in your communication strategy will be key.
Rule #1: Demonstrate your values
Gen Z are more value-driven than previous generations. They care about issues such as equality, LBGT, and gun ownership. To encourage them to participate, you must first demonstrate that you understand the issues that ‘rock their world’. This means your communication must be more measured, more tactful, and more exciting all at the same time.
Rule #2: Build relationship differently
Studies have shown that Gen Z are more connected – to their smartphones and online content. They spend an average of three hours and 38 minutes on their mobile devices each day, and up to 10 hours each day online. Face-to-face communication is still important, but the way to really engage their hearts and minds is to develop community and empathy online.
Rule #3: Let them in by being transparent
Younger workers are increasingly innovative, and they are also good researchers. They want to discover new things and are more adept at finding them. Help them do this by creating channels for their thirst for knowledge.
Create transparency by providing routes that allow them to receive the answers to the questions they wish to ask.
Engage with them in their preferred communication channels, sharing real information and encouraging them to share their views, opinions, and ideas.
Provide your leaders with the collaboration skills to profit in the modern workplace:
- Enable the sharing of skills
- Encourage cross-fertilization of ideas and creativity
- Provide access to skills training
- Invest in communication skills training for leaders
- Provide motivation for personal growth
Social media, greater access to social influencers, and a keener interest in social factors have created a ‘we generation’ – use the right strategies to increase employee engagement and you’ll harness the power of teamwork as never before.
Rule #4: Engage quickly
Attention spans are falling. With Gen Z, you have an eight-second window to grab them and hold them. This falling attention span has led to many people questioning the cognitive ability of younger people. Not so. They are inundated with a rapid stream of information from a multitude of sources – social media such as Facebook, instant messaging, video calls, emails, news streams, and so on – which they must choose to follow or disregard. Those they follow receive their full attention.
The trick is to engage quickly. How to do this? Be entertaining, informative, and questioning. Stimulate minds to stimulate conversation.
Rule #5: Share that your people have an impact
Here’s where you can put all the previous employee engagement strategies into action in a single stroke. Gen Z may follow social influencers, but they also want to influence society. So, let your society know the influence that they have as individuals and teams. Share it with the wider community, both internally and externally. Wrap this influence in the context of your shared vision and values, to reinforce the social proof of you as an employer of choice.
Rule #6: Recognize and reward individuals and teams
Motivate by recognizing the contributions and achievements of individuals and teams. Make these rewards personal, to reaffirm your awareness of your affinity with individual members of your team. And again, publicize these awards.
Rule #7: Communicate constantly
Don’t think that sporadic communication will engage and motivate people in the modern workplace. The days when it was good not to hear from your boss are gone. In flatter hierarchies, it is imperative to communicate constantly. Create a communication plan, providing content to your employees that keeps them informed and engaged. Challenge them to develop their skills and become involved in the quest for improvement of process, product, and systems.
Consider how you communicate, too. As attention spans fall, shorter bursts of communication are driving engagement. For example, should team meetings be limited to tackling a single issue in a five-minute burst of brainstorming?
Guide your communication by empathy
There is a single theme that runs through all these rules: empathy.
Yes, you must continuously review your communication strategies to increase employee engagement. You must be innovative and creative. You must continually update your methods of communication. Most importantly, though, you must communicate with empathy.
Understand how your employees think and what their values are. Empathize with them. Do this, and employee engagement in your organization will soar.
At the heart of empathy is emotional intelligence. Contact Forward Focus today to discover how an Emotional Intelligence course will develop and embed the communication skills needed to engage your employees in the technological age.