Recently, Feed & Grain has gotten the opportunity to work with a new intern, Hayley Laufenberg. While I’d like to think I’ve been able to teach her a few things about the world of being a B2B editor, I can say I've learned more about working with the new generation of workers.
As a millennial, it’s both fascinating and scary not being the youngest working generation anymore. I’m trying to remember what it was like to come into the workforce with fresh ideas and experiences and how much it meant to me when more experienced workers listened to and valued my viewpoint.
Working with our intern along with this fantastic article, Cracking the Code: Managing a Younger Workforce from by Karuna Parmar from SHRM got me thinking about how managers in feed manufacturing, grain handling and related industries could help welcome and learn from new employees. With the entrance of Generation Z (Gen Z) into our industry, there has been a lot of talk about how to manage them. While this is important, the industry now has the opportunity to use these individuals with their wealth of skills and fresh perspectives to drive the technological revolution happening in the industry.
Generation Z, typically born between 1997 and 2012, is marked by its digital fluency and a deep commitment to environmental and social causes. While no generation is a monolith, and every employee should be assessed of their strengths and weaknesses, they are a generation that has grown up in the age of smartphones, social media and instant access to information. Their affinity for technology, desire for social responsibility and preference for innovation make them an asset to the industry.
Digital natives as digital ambassadors
In today's digital-first world, Gen Z employees often possess advanced technological skills. To fully harness their potential, organizations should hire for attitude and train for skills. This approach ensures that the inherent skills of Gen Z are recognized and nurtured while providing opportunities to address their areas of growth.
Gen Z individuals are true digital natives. They have an innate understanding of digital tools, platforms and social media. Leverage this expertise by involving them in creating and managing your online presence. Use advice from social media savvy Gen Z employees to help establish and maintain an engaging and dynamic online brand that resonates with younger audiences.
The youngest working generation is often well-versed in the nuances of various social media platforms. They can guide your company on how to use these platforms effectively for marketing, engagement and customer interaction. Their insights can lead to more authentic and impactful social media strategies.
If you’re having issues marketing to the younger generations, ask your Gen Z employees how they like to be marketed to. Younger employees will have an acute sense of what captures the attention of their generation. Tap into their creativity to develop marketing campaigns that are not just tech-savvy but also culturally relevant. Their knowledge of trends and viral content can be a significant asset in creating marketing strategies that connect with younger consumers.
Adapting to a digital-first world
Most everyone uses a smartphone at this point in time, but Gen Z has been using them since they were children. This gives them advantages. Use this knowledge when updating or integrating a mobile experience for your customers (something that will need to be done to stay competitive in an age of digital tickets and apps).
Ask your Gen-Z employees to use your customer-facing digital tools for feedback on what they like and don’t like. How would they make it more user friendly? What other features have they seen that you could adopt? What do they look for when downloading an app?
Encourage Gen Z employees to continuously learn about new technologies and trends. Provide opportunities for them to attend tech-related workshops or courses, which can ultimately benefit your business's tech-related goals.
Incorporating Gen Z into your business is not just about bridging the generation gap. It's about staying competitive and relevant in a digital-first world. Their tech-savvy nature can be an asset in helping your business adapt, innovate and thrive in the digital age. Plus, by letting them contribute to your business, listening to their ideas and offering them a chance to grow, you’re giving them a reason to become engaged, and hopefully stay with your company and the feed and grain industry overall.