I’m trying very hard to stay cool, which is becoming increasingly difficult as I approach forty. Eventually, I’ll give in and realize that, as the man says, “time is undefeated,” and stop trying. But when I look to Generation Z, those born between 1990 and 1999, I get a glimmer of hope.

Viewpoints from Bob Simpson

But first, here’s a sobering thought for those of you around my age – Generation Z makes up about twenty percent of the current workforce.

The kids are taking over. Like you, I envision Gen Zers tweeting during board meetings, taking Instagram photos of the quinoa salad they ate between Zoom calls, or doing some lip-syncing video on TikTok instead of finishing the quarterly report that was due days ago.

To either augment or curtail my fears, I did some research on Gen Z trends in the workplace, and was surprised to find that, from the same Robert Half report cited above, 74% of Gen Z workers prefer face-to-face communication with colleagues over some other form. It’s a surprising result when you consider that Gen Z has been tied to social networks and exposed to the internet nearly from the day they were born.

In today’s environment, where many of us are operating remotely due to COVID-19, how do we satisfy Gen Z’s need for face-to-face communication?

How do we reach employees and give them that personal touch when in-person engagement is not in the cards? While it’s difficult to argue that Zoom meetings lack the intimacy of in-person meetings, there are a few steps we can take to better engage our Gen Z employees.

First, managers should find opportunities to engage with Gen Z employees, even if video calls are the only option.

Giving Gen Z employees the forum and ability to communicate with managers satisfies their need to hear consistent feedback and establish rapport with their bosses.

Second, if video is the only option, you can take a few easy steps to connect with them:
  1. Look into the camera, not at yourself speaking on camera. I know it’s mesmerizing to watch yourself on a Zoom call – I do it all the time – but try to look into the camera when you can. It’s the video conferencing equivalent of looking someone in the eye.
  2. If you don’t need to have your email or IM platform open, close it for the conversation. People on the other end of the video conference can tell when you’re distracted or checking messages instead of listening to them.
  3. Bring the energy. Remember the old saying that the camera adds ten pounds? Well, it also translates energy differently to the other party. In some cases, you have to step the enthusiasm up a bit more for it to resonate with your audience. So, try to sit up straight, look interested and engaged, and dial up that energy.
Connecting with our youngest generation in the workforce doesn’t have to be complex.
Though their comfort level with digital media and social networking is practically instilled at birth, they still have the need for in-person connection that we, too, desire. And though the pandemic has changed our ability to engage as we’d prefer, there are still steps we can take to make Generation Z feel valued and comfortable in the workplace.


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EPIC offers these opinions for general information only. EPIC does not intend this material to be, nor may any person receiving this information construe or rely on this material as, tax or legal advice. The matters addressed in this article and any related discussions or correspondence should be reviewed and discussed with legal counsel prior to acting or relying on these materials.