What Your Millennial and Gen Z Employees Need From You Right Now

For the younger generations, Millennials and Gen Z, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic will be particularly profound. For some of them, too young to feel the full weight of other recent, life-changing events like 9-11 and the 2008 market and jobs crash, this pandemic is their first exposure to real hardship. And, the most profound hardship most of us for any generation have experienced; it’s taking away the in-person human connection that is our primary source for safety and belonging. For other generations, the effects of the last recession, 9/11, wars, swine flu, still haven’t faded away.

As the employer and future employer, to the next leaders of our world and your workforce, you must truly understand this younger generation’s experience. And what they need from you in the workplace or the marketplace. They currently account for 38% of the workforce and by the end of the decade, 58% of employees will be either a Millennial or a Gen Z. If you and your business want to continue to survive and thrive in the new world of work, it’s not an option to ignore the needs of the younger generations and the effects the pandemic is having on them. You must meet them where they are and give them what they want in order to build your high-performance team and extend their reach to connecting with your clients. These generations actually account for 3 trillion dollars worth of annual spending!

Really, what Millennials or Gen Z employees want from their employers is no different than what any of us want. They just tend to be more vocal about it and more insistent that they get the support they’re seeking. This is one reason I love working with young people – they are absolutely determined to make it a better world and they’re not shy about going after it.

To help your Millennial and Gen Zs learn to be resilient from all the change we’ve had over the past few months and thrive, focus on these simple things:

 

Help Them Feel Safe

This is a big one and we covered it in our last blog. People need to feel safe at work. Physically safe (make sure they know the steps you’re taking to protect them from the virus), but also emotionally and psychologically safe. They need to know the workplace is a safe place to speak up, to tell it like it is, and to call out toxic or damaging behaviors. The depth and spread of the #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter movements have shown how much the younger generations value creating spaces of inclusivity, equality, and safety. As I tell all of my clients, listen and listen like a trampoline, meaning bounce back with even better questions.

 

Help Them Feel Like They Belong

We all want to feel like we’re part of something that matters and again, Millennials and Gen Zs are no different. They place a high value on finding workplaces that allow them to do work that is meaningful. And it’s up to you to make sure they can clearly see how their work has meaning and how it’s contributing to your overall organizational goals. If you need help, we’re here. We’ve helped hundreds of organizations and teams solve the crisis of disengagement by helping connect team members to their personal and professional purposes (their why) threaded to your corporate missions through our flagship online program, Strengths & Story.

 

Provide Access to Mentoring and Coaching Opportunities

Though COVID-19 has done away with a lot of our traditional ways of providing professional development through the method of sending our people off to workshops and conferences, the younger generations were craving something different even before the pandemic. In a recent blog, we discussed how today’s young workers want the freedom and flexibility to seek out their own mentors and coaches, to learn on demand and in the way that suits them, sometimes even informally. They also need to take ownership in their mentoring relationships. With our teams working remotely and feeling isolated, helping your young people access new mentoring and coaching opportunities and techniques is critical.

To help, we recently launched our online portal, Hooga, to provide a virtual and on-demand coaching options for your people to learn the principles of our Strengths & Story workshops. Reach out to us to find out how you can get access!

 

Show Them How to Build Resilience

With all the uncertainty and stress that’s invaded our lives recently, one of the most important things Millennial and Gen Z employees need from you is to learn how to build and cultivate their own resilience. Sometimes called “grit” but even deeper, a person’s resilience is simply a measure of their ability to bounce back quickly when things get tough. And things have never been tougher for our workers than the challenges of COVID-19.

We have a 3-step system you can use to help them build better resilience. Click here to check it out now.

 

Reskill Them on Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence is key for success in the future world of work. And with so much stress, anxiety, and uncertainty, people need people. We need to feel connected to each other and that we have strong relationships, whether it’s with our bosses, coworkers, clients, or friends and family. Make sure your younger employees are equipped with the skills they need to up their game when it comes to their own Emotional Intelligence. Learn how to reskill them and coach them on Emotional Intelligence here.

 

Your Millennial and Gen Z employees need you to step up and help them in the wake of COVID-19. Start here with these five ideas. If you need help implementing any of the above strategies or would like a personalized recommendation for your team, reach out to us to learn how we can support you to success.

The Case for Creating Safety and Belonging in the Workplace Has Never Been Clearer

As we get used to a new normal and over the shock and grief of COVID-19, it’s never been more important to care about our workplace. Our employees and teams really need a sense of safety and belonging. Both in the psychological and in the physical sense, as COVID-19 leaves us with new rules and regulations.

Simply put, if people don’t feel safe at work and if they don’t feel like they belong, they won’t do their best work. It really is that simple. The key to creating a successful culture that helps your company thrive and deliver high performance is to make sure your employees are safe. That means addressing their fears and concerns over their physical and psychological safety in a post-COVID19 world. Here’s how:

 

Ask, “What Can I Do Differently to Serve You?”

To solve any problem in your workplace, start by asking great questions. Questions that encourage the other person to go deep and really mine for the crystals so you can help solve for the challenges. I love these ideas from Google’s Head of People Analytics – start this week by asking these questions of every person on your team:

1) What am I doing now that you want me to continue to do?

2) What am I NOT doing frequently enough that you’d like to see more of?

3) What can I do to make you more effective?

Asking great questions demonstrates to the other person that you care about them, that you’re willing to listen, and you’ve got their back. When people know you care, they’ll trust you. Trust goes a long way toward creating a true culture of safety and belonging. In this new world you actually may want to share your procedures for physical safety and further check to see if they do feel physically safe and social distanced.

 

Ask, “What Makes Work Meaningful?”

We all want to do work that is meaningful, that makes a different for someone else or the world. With all this time at home, worrying about what’s going to happen to our families, our friends, our jobs, it’s got a lot of people thinking about what’s really important in life and questioning if they’re living in alignment with those principles.

Make sure you’re helping everyone on your team connect their work to their meaning and purpose. Help them see why they’re doing something and how it’s contributing to larger team or organizational goals. When people can see that they are part of something and helping to meaningfully create progress, they will feel that they belong. Again, COVID-19 is a game changer. Is there something you can do to help your employees or clients create meaning while protecting them at this time?

 

Seek to Reskill on Emotional Intelligence and Behaviors to Create Safety and Belonging

In previous articles we’ve discussed the importance of cultivating Emotional Intelligence (EQ) in our changing workplace. As we reenter the world and workforce with differing fears, anxieties, and stresses, demonstrating EQ has never been more important. Self + Others = Success. EQ helps us get there.

Reskill your team on the basics of EQ and make sure they understand how to really listen in a meaningful way, how to ask great questions, how to have empathy for the other person, and how to tap into their own strengths and story to connect. Also, make sure that you understand the real challenges of the current times and be sensitive to how they are feeling. Seek to address how their colleagues and clients may be feeling as well.

Check out our toolbox here for free resources you can use to help your people level up and let us know if we can help you apply them to our current day scenarios.

 

If you make a conscious choice to intentionally create a culture of safety and belonging, your team and company will thrive. We’ve seen it happen over and over again with our clients – and we’re sure these simple hacks will make the difference for you, too.

Need some support? Reach out to us – our Strength & Story system guarantees you will create a culture of safety and belonging and see real results with your team and business in 100 days or less. Contact us to find out more about how we can help you grow and thrive.

Where’s the Free Food and Ping-Pong Table? What New Hacks Will Solve the Innovation Vacuum in the Work-From-Home Economy?

The work-from-home revolution has been unleashed. While it’s true that the workplace and worker of the future were both already changing prior to our current global pandemic, this lockdown has cemented a new era.

Big headlines from some of the largest tech companies in the world are just the beginning of this new era. What will it do to our workplaces?

Jack Dorsey, the CEO of both Twitter and Square was the first to announce their “work-from-home forever” policy change. Other companies soon followed suit and last week we had the announcement from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg that the tech giant’s employees may also continue working from home indefinitely.

So what does this mean for cities that currently enjoy prestige as tech hotspots like San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, Austin, and others? And more importantly, what does this mean for companies who have invested years and hundreds of thousands of dollars creating campuses stocked with free food, gyms, ping-pong tables, and more in an effort to attract the best and brightest employees in the industry?

That is the question that has been on my mind the last few weeks as I work with my own clients, including executives from some of the largest companies in America. It’s been well documented that perks like free food do more than attract rock star employees. A 2015 study from Cornell University found that when crews of firefighters eat together, they perform better on the job than crews who eat alone. This didn’t escape the leader in free food and organized socialization, Google, or the thousands of other companies that have followed their lead. For tech companies, offering free food has the same effect. Science dictates that it brings people together and fosters friendships, ideas, and innovation.

Prior to CVOID-19, the ubiquitous new age “dining hall” that could be found at many tech companies created a natural space for innovation. Where people gather and come together, there is always the potential for the creation and spread of new ideas. And it’s these new, innovative ideas tech companies relied on to stay one step ahead of the competition. Summarily, food and eating together creates safety and belonging , which creates trust, which creates innovation.

Here’s one thing I know: the work-from-home revolution and less human-to-human gatherings will create a safety and belonging gap which will lead to an innovation vacuum in your company unless you take steps to prevent it. Even now, your employees likely are not sharing meals together. They’re logging off of Zoom or Slack to go eat alone in their own kitchens. Ideas are not being exchanged and innovation is stalled.

So if you want to continue to spur innovation inside your company, as I know you do, use these ideas to foster safety, belonging, and innovation in the workplace:

 

Bring People Together

One of the most important steps to fostering innovation during the work-from-home revolution is to be intentional about replacing the cafeteria. You must find a replacement for your company’s dining hall, happy hour, or mixers that fits our new normal of social distancing and working remote. Rather than getting off of Zoom or Slack for lunch, encourage people to stay on and eat together as they would at the physical office. Schedule virtual happy hours. Randomly assign or encourage small groups to form and meet weekly over video chat to check in with each other and talk. As regulations allow, have people meet outside of work in small groups to walk or go for a hike. In fact, creating small bonded teams of 6-8 works for the Navy Seals. They create a brotherhood of safety and belonging, which yields the highest performance. Our millennial/Gen Z networking groups at launchbox, encourage participants to form a “tripod,” a small group of three people that meet for lunch and check in with each other between monthly meetings. No matter what you choose to do, you must be intentional about encouraging the human-to-human connection.

 

Ask Your People What They Need From You

One of our favorite workplace hacks to create and build strong teams and companies is to simply ask your people what they need from you. Are they feeling Zoom Fatigue with too many meetings already? Are they isolated and feeling distant from their team? Are they experiencing challenges at home that are interfering with work? Regular check-ins with your people will help you solve problems, build strong employee loyalty, and ultimately create the space people need to innovate. Unhappy, stressed, scared people do not create game-changing breakthroughs. Happy, confident, supported people do.

 

Foster Resilience

If you haven’t checked out our blog on mastering the 3 components of resilience, read that next. Our 3 C’s of Confidence, Commitment, and Clarity will help your people create resilience. As I said above, unhappy employees do not innovate. Help your people meet the challenges of the work-from-home revolution by teaching them the skills to build and maintain resilience. It will change the way they show up for work, their team, and your clients.

 

The work-from-home revolution has arrived and it’s now our normal. We do the work with business owners, executives and workplaces to help them find, build, and share their Strengths and Story to build high performance cultures through safety and belonging. What could be better? Click here to book a free session with us today!