5 things we can do to give Gen Z employees (and Millennials) internal communication tools fit for the age

The Team, creative branding agency, brand strategy, brand purpose, brand identity, employee engagement, social purpose, generation z, millennials, internal communication

Did you know that 75% of employees are not desk-workers? 61 million people in the US are Gen Z (more than Gen X). 15% of the population in Europe are Gen Z (OK, this is an older market than most, but that’s a big slice of the workforce).

Watch out! The youngsters are coming!

And what are we doing? Preparing them for old world ways of working. Line managers; email; 9-5pm. Borrring!!!! And, just plain #wrong.

What are the best internal communication tools for your workforce?

  1. Embrace the mobile workforce

Do you have landlines? Get rid of them all. Give every employee a mobile device – or allow every employee to connect with you using a mobile device. Most employees aren’t at a desk anyhow, and maybe some are at their desk and shouldn’t be.

Get people out from the desk and get them moving about. Get them free-forming into the teams they need to work in. And then let them free-form again. KPMG have done it. So can you!

  1. Tirelessly experiment with new ways of connecting people

Why is it that we watch our children adopt so much fantastic technology and put it to great use (WhatsApp, Snapchat, become vloggers) only to introduce them to email and PowerPoint in the workplace? Turn on Slack, Yammer, MS Teams, Workplace. Let them connect. They connect for hours on end every day.

RBS is the biggest user of Workplace in Europe. British Gas is the most active user of Yammer, where engineers share problems live within their community and quickly receive answers from their peers.

If an old-school engineer can adopt new technology, then your business can think about throwing away the old!

  1. Hire entertainers

Make your content entertaining and inspiring. We live in a content world. There is so much competing content. Your internal communication department needs to hire entertainers: Writers, filmmakers, digital creatives, event managers that can breathe life into your story. Surround yourself with artists – everything else in internal communications can be delivered through AI.

Turn strategy messages into more exciting interactions like online profilers. Simple games that help people understand their role in bringing strategy to life. Create more film. Tap into the artistry of people out in the business – it’ll be full of frustrated writers, photographers and filmmakers.

  1. Create communities of interest

“Bob who sits next to me is a great guy. We have a laugh at work. But in actual fact, he’s zero use to me when it comes to development. However, Klara who works in the hub in the next town down the road knows so much stuff that I could really benefit from. Wouldn’t be great if we were in a community of interest? We could then come up with better ideas for customers. If only my firm created an online community and had some inspiring talent community leader pulling us all together!” Er, so why not do this? Great for all workers. Especially remote workers. We’ve been driving it with our client Avanade.

  1. Where’s Wally?

Let’s say Wally is your CEO. Sometimes finding her (OK, her full name is Wallina) can be hard. But, Gen Z like face-to-face – surprisingly, more like training in person than online training. They like human connection.

Get your CEO in front of everyone every day. You know that question you get asked every day when you get home? “How was your day?” Yep, OK, so I know you normally say, “it was alright” and move on, but normally you have something to share. Your CEO should share a 3-minute take on what’s gone well every day. Every employee should ‘start the day’ with an inspiring message from the top, resetting the direction and pointing to some great stuff that people have done.

One final word of warning. Don’t conflate Gen Z with Millennials. Millennials are so old!! They still use Facebook for goodness sake! Gen Z are more conservative than their slightly older cousins. They may be more innocent on one front – they’ll have no memory of 9/11 for example – but they will have seen their families struggle financially during recession. They are not all risk takers. Fewer want to be entrepreneurs.