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What Gen Z hires need to succeed in today's workplace, according to Zoom's people chief

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  • Gen Z employees excel in digital skills but may need support in developing face-to-face communication and other soft skills.
  • Adaptability, resilience, and understanding of professional boundaries are key areas for improvement among Gen Z hires.
  • Mentorship programs, clear communication of expectations, and leveraging technology can help bridge the gap and set Gen Z employees up for success in their careers.

In today's rapidly evolving workplace, a new generation is making its mark: Gen Z. Born between the mid-1990s and early 2010s, these digital natives are entering the workforce with unique perspectives and skills. However, they're also facing challenges that have caught the attention of employers and HR professionals alike. Lynne Oldham, Chief People Officer at Zoom, recently shared her insights on what new Gen Z hires might be missing and how they can bridge the gap to succeed in their careers.

Gen Z employees have grown up in a world of constant connectivity and rapid technological advancements. While this has given them an edge in certain areas, it has also led to some unexpected hurdles in the professional world. According to recent studies, nearly half of hiring managers find Gen Z the most challenging generation to work with – a sentiment echoed even by Gen Z bosses themselves.

Oldham notes, "Gen Z brings incredible digital savvy and fresh perspectives to the workplace. However, there are certain soft skills and professional norms that they may need to develop further to thrive in their careers".

Key Areas for Improvement

Communication Skills

One of the primary areas where Gen Z hires may need to focus is on their communication skills, particularly in face-to-face interactions. Growing up in a digital-first world, many Gen Z employees excel in online communication but may struggle with in-person conversations and presentations.

Oldham emphasizes, "While Gen Z is incredibly adept at digital communication, we've noticed that some struggle with nuanced face-to-face interactions. Developing these skills is crucial for building relationships and advancing in one's career".

Adaptability and Resilience

The fast-paced nature of today's work environment requires a high degree of adaptability and resilience. Gen Z employees, accustomed to instant gratification and quick solutions, may need to cultivate patience and perseverance when faced with complex, long-term projects.

"We've observed that some Gen Z hires may become frustrated when things don't happen as quickly as they're used to in their digital lives. Building resilience and understanding that some processes take time is an important part of professional growth," Oldham explains.

Work Ethic and Professional Boundaries

The concept of work-life balance has evolved significantly in recent years, particularly with the rise of remote work. However, Gen Z employees may need guidance in establishing healthy professional boundaries and understanding workplace expectations.

Oldham notes, "There's sometimes a disconnect between the casual nature of social media interactions and the professionalism expected in the workplace. Helping Gen Z navigate these boundaries is crucial for their success".

Bridging the Gap: Strategies for Success

To help Gen Z employees thrive in the workplace, Oldham suggests several strategies:

Mentorship Programs: Pairing Gen Z hires with experienced colleagues can provide valuable guidance and help them navigate workplace norms.

Soft Skills Training: Offering workshops and training sessions focused on communication, emotional intelligence, and professional etiquette can be immensely beneficial.

Clear Expectations: Clearly communicating workplace expectations and providing regular feedback can help Gen Z employees understand and meet professional standards.

Embracing Technology: Leveraging digital tools for training and communication can play to Gen Z's strengths while helping them develop in areas where they may be lacking.

Encouraging Cross-Generational Collaboration: Creating opportunities for Gen Z to work with colleagues from different generations can foster mutual understanding and skill-sharing.

The Silver Lining

While there may be challenges, it's important to recognize the unique strengths that Gen Z brings to the table. Their digital fluency, creativity, and desire for meaningful work can be tremendous assets to any organization.

Oldham concludes, "Gen Z has the potential to revolutionize the workplace. By addressing these skill gaps and providing the right support, we can help them unlock their full potential and drive innovation in our organizations".

As the workplace continues to evolve, understanding and nurturing the talents of Gen Z will be crucial for organizations looking to stay competitive and innovative. By recognizing both the strengths and areas for improvement in Gen Z hires, companies like Zoom are paving the way for a more dynamic and inclusive work environment.

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