One of the more interesting sessions at the National Retail Federation (NRF) 2020 Vision: Retail’s Big Show, the retail and innovation tradeshow held January 11-14, 2020 at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City, was a discussion about how companies can continously engage with frontline workers and employees in the millennial and Generation Z (“Gen Z”) demographic, that now make up the majority of the US workforce.
Entitled “Gen Z and Millennials Are Here: How and Where to Engage Them,” the Big Ideas session was sponsored by employee scheduling and shift planning solution Shyft. The packed presentation was standing room-only, and was representative of one of the key areas of focus at NRF 2020 Vision: how companies can retain and engage frontline workers with tools and technology. Brett Patrontasch, Shyft CEO and session presenter, opened by citing some statistics.
“Gen Z is made up of people who are born between 1997 to 2012, and they make up 26 percent of the population,” Patrontasch said. “Millennials were born between 1981 to 1996, and currently make up 22 percent of the US population. Together, these groups are actually the current largest population in today’s workforce.”
“Millennials are mobile pioneers while Gen Zers are mobile natives,” Patrontasch said. “And 93 percent of millennials own smartphones; 63 percent of them think it is critical to be accessible at all times. Also, 98 percent of Gen Z have smartphones; 59 percent of them think it is critical to be accessible at all times. Other notable statistics from Shyft are that millennials have a 12-second attention span while Gen Z workers have an 8-second attention span (see infographic below).”
(Image credit: Shyft)
Millennials, Gen Z Employees: Mobile-First and Always Connected
Understanding that millennials and Gen Z are mostly mobile-first and foster an always-connected mindset, it makes sense to find out what applications and services they use the most and find ways to engage with them there. With data based from a study done with Pew Research Center, Shyft revealed that the average millennial owns 7.7 connected devices and regularly interacts with 3.3 of these devices. These devices could be gaming consoles, smartphones, tablets, or wearables. Not only are millennials and Gen Zers prolific consumers of technology, many of them “live” in multiple social media apps.
“Gen Z spends five hours on their favorite apps per day, and many use up to five different social channels per day,” Patrontasch said. Among the favorite social media apps of this demographic are Imgur, Instagram, Reddit, Snapchat, TikTok, Twitch, and Unfold.
(Image credit: Shyft)
The study reveals that, not only are millennials avid content consumers on various platforms, but that 50 percent of them consider themselves content creators, and more than 75 percent of them share content online.
“I’m a millennial; I’m 33 years old. I’m a content creator,” Patrontasch noted. “I post Instagram Stories and I post on LinkedIn. I enjoy going around in my daily life and sharing these moments with my friends and co-workers.”
To better connect with and reach a certain customer demographic, it becomes crucial for businesses to understand their characteristics and preferences. For generations who prefer the quick responsiveness of instant messaging (IM) over e-mail, engaging workers through tools such as Microsoft Teams and Slack can maintain a steady flow of communication and better accountability.
“There’s a thirst for digital consumption,” Patrontasch said. “So, when you think about announcements, training, or content distribution, they are used to getting that on mobile as it is actually their preferred method. And 59 percent of Gen Z first learned on YouTube rather than any type of manual or book.”
(Image credit: Shyft)
Feedback Boosts Engagement
Millennials and Gen Z workers are always connected with friends and peers; this extends to the work environment via messaging and collaboration-based workflows and software solutions. Millennials prefer to work in open concept spaces where they are free to roam and collaborate. According to a recent Gallup report, only 29 percent of millennials are engaged at work. As a result, millennial turnover due to lack of engagement costs the US economy $30.5 billion each year. Aside from engaging millennials and Gen Z workers through mobile apps and and social media, interacting with them through frequent feedback and collaborative sessions are opportunities to connect, engage, and retain these employees.
Have any questions you need answered about attracting and engaging millennial and Gen Z workers? Join the [email protected] business community on LinkedIn, and you can ask vendors, other professionals like yourself, and PCMag’s editors.
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