How Technology Companies Can Connect with Generation Z

Richard Emmerson - Senior Consultant, Communications Systems

By: Richard Emmerson
Senior Consultant, Communications Systems

24th January 2018

Home » consulting

Generation Z (referring to the cohort born between the mid-1990s to mid-2000s) is the first generation to never know life without the internet, social media and technology with high-resolution colour screens…. just let that sink in for a second.

This new wave of young people will be the future-shapers of technology and innovation in our industry and are already strongly familiar with today’s technological achievements (smartphones, tablets and VR/AR entertainment systems to name a few).

In fact, switching between screens, devices, accounts and platforms all comes naturally to generation Z, as if intuitive; all the while juggling multiple tasks and projects without, seemingly, sacrificing the quality of their work. Therefore, we shouldn’t be surprised, or worried, if we see them on their phones all day, it’s their default position for communicating with colleagues, taking notes and doing research. This lends itself to the question:

How do you connect with a generation that is, in many ways, already connected?

Having been an Assessor for the Engineering Education Scheme (EES) Applied Programme, an educational classroom scheme that aims to inspire young people into pursuing a career into Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics through carrying out projects in ‘real-life’ business conditions; I believe that first-hand experience may hold the answer.

The opportunity for young people to experience real-life exposure to our industry has, I think, a two-fold benefit. Firstly, so that they may be inspired and motivated to lead the way in the latest cutting-edge technology and secondly, so that we, collectively in the industry, may learn from a new and fresh perspective on what we are currently doing in our methods and practises.

With the latter in mind, here are 3 things I think a company in the technology/electronics industry can do to gain maximum benefit from their newest and youngest workforce.

1. Mix and match project teams

While selecting a project team involves much strategic decision-making, many project managers may favour in picking teams stocked with their most experienced and specialist experts. From personal experience during projects, I’ve found that the most effective working groups often feature a mix of top experts with junior and lower-level professionals.

2. Let Junior Engineers lead project work (when appropriate) with guidance

Giving junior engineers the chance to contribute as to what direction the project should be heading will help them integrate quickly and develop the confidence they need to bring their skills and education to the table. At the same time, gentle guidance can be given here so that they can learn from each team member’s unique areas of expertise and stay on track with the project timeline. Life skills, such as teamwork, time management, and project management skills can also develop faster.

3. Create a mentorship scheme

Similar to my previous point, a mentorship scheme goes one step further that project-based guidance. A mentorship scheme is extremely important for young people, while information is available at a touch of a button; real-life experiences can only be taught and cannot be downloaded. Such relationships encourage knowledge transfer and skills development, honing softer skills that will ease them into the established ways of working.

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Generation Z (referring to the cohort born between the mid-1990s to mid-2000s) is the first generation to never know life without the internet, social media and technology with high-resolution colour screens…. just let that sink in for a second.

This new wave of young people will be the future-shapers of technology and innovation in our industry and are already strongly familiar with today’s technological achievements (smartphones, tablets and VR/AR entertainment systems to name a few).

In fact, switching between screens, devices, accounts and platforms all comes naturally to generation Z, as if intuitive; all the while juggling multiple tasks and projects without, seemingly, sacrificing the quality of their work. Therefore, we shouldn’t be surprised, or worried, if we see them on their phones all day, it’s their default position for communicating with colleagues, taking notes and doing research. This lends itself to the question:

How do you connect with a generation that is, in many ways, already connected?

Having been an Assessor for the Engineering Education Scheme (EES) Applied Programme, an educational classroom scheme that aims to inspire young people into pursuing a career into Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics through carrying out projects in ‘real-life’ business conditions; I believe that first-hand experience may hold the answer.

The opportunity for young people to experience real-life exposure to our industry has, I think, a two-fold benefit. Firstly, so that they may be inspired and motivated to lead the way in the latest cutting-edge technology and secondly, so that we, collectively in the industry, may learn from a new and fresh perspective on what we are currently doing in our methods and practises.

With the latter in mind, here are 3 things I think a company in the technology/electronics industry can do to gain maximum benefit from their newest and youngest workforce.

1. Mix and match project teams

While selecting a project team involves much strategic decision-making, many project managers may favour in picking teams stocked with their most experienced and specialist experts. From personal experience during projects, I’ve found that the most effective working groups often feature a mix of top experts with junior and lower-level professionals.

2. Let Junior Engineers lead project work (when appropriate) with guidance

Giving junior engineers the chance to contribute as to what direction the project should be heading will help them integrate quickly and develop the confidence they need to bring their skills and education to the table. At the same time, gentle guidance can be given here so that they can learn from each team member’s unique areas of expertise and stay on track with the project timeline. Life skills, such as teamwork, time management, and project management skills can also develop faster.

3. Create a mentorship scheme

Similar to my previous point, a mentorship scheme goes one step further that project-based guidance. A mentorship scheme is extremely important for young people, while information is available at a touch of a button; real-life experiences can only be taught and cannot be downloaded. Such relationships encourage knowledge transfer and skills development, honing softer skills that will ease them into the established ways of working.

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Further Reading