This Is Causing Generation Z to Be the Most Distinct Generation Ever

These two factors are shaping Generation Z in unprecedented ways and may usher in a new era of generations.

In the past, generations were defined by a single step in the line of descent from an ancestor which typically spanned 15-20 years. Today, generations are formed by significant events, innovations, or culture shifts during the moldable years of an age cohort.

While not an exact science, generations provide helpful clues when it comes to recruiting, managing, or marketing.

Generations are clues, not absolutes. 

Because of how disruptive technology has become and how fast the world is changing, generational spans are likely to shrink to five to ten years. 

This explains the growing popularity behind the term “Xennials," the micro-generation of people on the cusp of Generation X and Millennials, that are described as having had an analog childhood and a digital adulthood. In addition, many believe—myself included—that Millennials (born between 1981-1997) could be split into two generations making their generational span eight years.

Technology is playing an increasingly pivotal role in shaping generations.

A generation who came of age during the superabundance of smartphones is likely to have different preferences and tendencies than someone who comes of age ten years later during the proliferation of artificial intelligence and blockchain.

Soon organizations will be faced with hiring, working, and leading across a greater number of different generations than ever seen before.

Generation Z will be the first glimpse into this new era of generations.

2 Things Causing Generation Z to Be so Different

1. Increased Influences 

In the not too distant past, generations were only exposed to what happened in their small tribes or communities. The weather, landscapes, sources of food (rivers, vegetation, etc.), and the modest number of family and friends within the tribe were the only things influencing human behavior.

Limited influences, constricted information flow, and slow-changing surroundings ensured previous generations' values, expectations, and behaviors remained relatively unchanged for decades.

Today, something can happen halfway across the world and current generations are exposed to it instantly. Smartphones and endless news feeds expose people to significant events, ideas, and innovations at a frequency never before experienced. 

The 44 percent of the world’s population who are active on social media or the 35 million songs on Spotify or the over 540,000 podcasts or the 65 billion daily WhatsApp messages or the 948 million hours of streamed content on Twitch (in January 2019 alone) can now influence Generation Z’s values, expectations, and behaviors.

Thus making Generation Z wildly different than previous generations.

2. Abundant Access

Technology and the Internet have made the entire world accessible. Access to information, people, opportunities, capital, tools, etc. is abundant and changing how Generation Z works, learns, travels, buys, communicates, and more.

Abundant access shaped Millennials and is shaping Generation Z as they continue to come of age. Read this to learn more.

Examples of How Different Generation Z Behaviors Are
Here’s how increased influences and abundant access is changing the preferences and behaviors of Generation Z.

As truncated and diverse new generations begin rising every five to ten years (instead of every 15-20 years) and begin to exhibit new behaviors, older generations will assimilate those behaviors faster than ever before.

For example, online chat, texting, social media, and emojis were first adopted by younger generations and are now society mainstays across generations.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ryan Jenkins is an internationally-recognized keynote speaker and author on the topics of leadership, generational differences, and the future of work. He is the co-founder of SyncLX, which creates lasting learning experiences for companies' #1 asset, their people.

Would you like insights like these shared at your organization? Sync Learning Experiences helps companies big and small deliver training via LMS courses, live workshops (in-person and virtual), and custom L&D solutions. Click here to get in touch with our team.

How VR Will Accelerate Talent Learning and Development

Here’s why virtual reality is such a powerful training tool and the various types of training its ideal for.

A new normal requires new skills. And the wake of the imminent “new normal” will be littered with learning curves.

Benjamin Franklin wisely once said, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” Science proves this quote true. When we are engaged in “experiential learning” our retention of information improves.

Involvement has always been and will continue to be key for learning. But how can we involve ourselves when physical distancing still abounds?

The answer is virtual reality (VR).

VR refers to an artificial three-dimensional environment that is experienced through sensory stimuli provided by a computer (such as a special headset) and in which a person’s actions partially determine what happens in the environment.

In my recent Future of Learning & Development Podcast interview with Dr. Britt Andreatta, author of Wired to Grow: Harness the Power of Brain Science to Learn and Master Any Skill (2nd Edition), she explained how VR is best positioned to accelerate learning.

"Experiential learning is the most powerful and most sticky type of learning,” says Andreatta, “because it creates an episodic memory where we are at the center of the action, with all of our senses coding data about what is happening.”  Of the nine types of human memory, episodic memories drive the highest levels of retention of information and behavior change.

Andreatta continues, “VR is so powerful because it mimics this learning. And some studies show that VR experiences code in the brain as a lived memory.”

VR is much different than watching an instructional video on a screen because the learner can still see that they are in a room watching the video. Because VR is immersive, the human brain can’t tell the difference and believes what it's experiencing is real thus accelerating one’s learning.

According to Andreatta, here are the types of training that are ideal for VR and some real-life examples.

Geospacial:

If learners need to gain familiarity with a particular location without physically being there, VR works well. A cruise ship company used VR to help their waitstaff learn the location of hundreds of tables in the dining area to ensure food is served seamlessly when onboard. Oil rig workers use VR to commit the oil platform to memory from a safe place before being flown to this fast-moving and often dangerous work environment.

Human Interactions:

If learners need to gain specific behavioral skills, VR provides unique advantages. For example, interviewers can utilize VR to practice interviewing an artificial candidate by identifying and monitoring body language or counterbalancing unconscious bias. Or managers can practice having difficult conversations without harming a real relationship. VR is also used by law enforcement to simulate active shooter scenarios where a retired police officer coaches VR participants through how to handle various situations. 

Processes:

If learners need to master a particular process, VR can offer efficiency and scalability. VR can put a newly hired salesperson in a simulated observational role where they can peer over the shoulder of an experienced employee who is properly using the company's customer relationship management system. A heavy machinery company uses VR to train employees on how to use large equipment such as excavators. The first-person point of view allows VR participants to have the simulated experience of their own hands doing the correct procedures, which codes repetition behaviors into the brain.

“Every company should be considering a VR strategy. It should be the number one thing to explore this year. Start to build out how you can leverage VR in the right ways to reach your learning goals,” encourages Andreatta.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ryan Jenkins is an internationally-recognized keynote speaker and author on the topics of leadership, generational differences, and the future of work. He is the co-founder of SyncLX, which creates lasting learning experiences for companies' #1 asset, their people.

Would you like insights like these shared at your organization? Sync Learning Experiences helps companies big and small deliver training via LMS courses, live workshops (in-person and virtual), and custom L&D solutions. Click here to get in touch with our team.

8 Useful Ways to Retain Millennials with Better Onboarding

Use these tips to turn your company onboarding into the differentiator needed to engage and retain Millennial talent.

These days, company loyalty from a Millennial is as rare as getting a phone call from a Millennial. However, your organization’s onboarding process could be the differentiator needed to solidify Millennial loyalty once and for all.

When a guest walks into a hotel for the first time, the atmosphere, attention to detail, efficiency, and attitude of the staff, all play a crucial first impression role that will determine the long-term loyalty of that guest.

In the same way, the onboarding process offers fertile ground to instill the excitement and passion needed for a Millennial to settle in for a long-term career. The first couple weeks of a Millennial’s employment largely determines their career trajectory with the company.

There is no doubt that the below onboarding tips will take time and effort to implement but they will ultimately save you time on the back-end from recruiting and interviewing for the positions Millennials leave because they didn’t feel welcomed and accepted at the organization.

8 Ways to Retain Millennials with Better Onboarding

1. Tactful Timing

Send a pre-first day email or text to the new Millennial hire that highlights the organization’s excitement and what to expect when it comes to attire, parking, and the day’s agenda. Since employee energy levels are typically higher later in the week, consider starting the new hire on a Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday. Start the new hire’s day after 10am. This allows ample time for the new hire to find their way to work and the current employees to address urgent items before the new hire arrives.

2. Engage Employees

Ask current employees, who have worked for the organization for less than two years, what they wish they were told or did during the onboarding process and integrate it. Stress to existing employees the importance of a warm welcome to new hires. In addition, schedule a time for the new hire to connect with at least one company leader.

3. Give Gear

Nothing communicates “we forgot you were starting today” than not having the new hire’s gear ready. Ensure all company issued hardware and devices are live and pre-loaded with the new hire’s favorite utility applications. Surprise them with some super sweet company branded swag. The quirkier and more unique the better. This can help the new hire to begin identifying with the company.

4. Create Customization

Thanks to the Internet, Millennials grew up in an age of customization where they personalized their shoes, shirts, and cars. Lean into this expectation and allow the new hire to customize their workspace, devices, and/or work applications. You can learn a lot about the new hire during this customization process. In addition, provide preprinted business cards with their name on it. This will help the Millennial see and feel that they are a part of the team.

5. Explain Expectations

Millennials need and want to know exactly how you want them to perform. Providing a clear introduction and overview of their job will go a long way. Provide dos and don’ts when it comes to communication, leadership, work hours, vacation, etc. After onboarding, the Millennial should have a basic understanding of the following: culture, values and vision, roles and responsibilities, opportunities and promotions, training and safety, and ethics/accountability.

6. Accent Advancement

One of the top reasons Millennials leave organizations is due to the lack of career opportunities. Get an early jump on this issue by highlighting the necessary steps for advancement within the organization. Clearly identify their options and the necessary timelines for promotions. One company in particular, provides each new hire with a living plant to resemble their growth with the organization. The perceived growth of existing employee’s plants is a living (literally) example of the organization’s commitment to advancement.

7. Communicate Culture

Provide a "New Hire Handbook” that includes insights from employees, close places to eat or grab a beer, transit options, attire no-nos, recreation options, etc. Consider a new hire scavenger hunt as a way to get to know the office, people, and the culture. Keep in mind that Millennials get Millennials so use recent Millennial hires when possible to provide these tours. Having the company values and vision embodied by the employees and displayed throughout the physical workspace will help to clearly communicate the company culture.

8. End Energetically

Many onboarding processes can drag on and on and lead to a new hire burnout. Not a good first impression. Instead end with energy. Use a social event or activity to signify the completion of the process. Or provide a tangible reward that can serve as a right of passage into the organization. Oddly, Zappos offers $2,000 after orientation for folks to NOT take the job.

Infuse a few of these onboarding tips and not only will your Millennial new hires show up eager to work but they might bring their roommates as well.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ryan Jenkins is an internationally-recognized keynote speaker and author on the topics of leadership, generational differences, and the future of work. He is the co-founder of SyncLX, which creates lasting learning experiences for companies' #1 asset, their people.

Would you like insights like these shared at your organization? Sync Learning Experiences helps companies big and small deliver training via LMS courses, live workshops (in-person and virtual), and custom L&D solutions. Click here to get in touch with our team.

50 Percent of Emails and Texts are Misunderstood. Here’s How to Change That.

Here are four reasons to use more emojis at work.

We aren’t communicating as well as we think.

Ninety percent of the time people think their emails and texts are understood by recipients, but actually the messages are understood only 50 percent of the time, according to Nick Morgan, author of Can You Hear Me? How to Connect with People in a Virtual World.

For example, according to Morgan, recipients of a two-word email or text such as "nice job" or "great work” interpret the message as sarcastic 60 percent of the time.

Why do people misinterpret so frequently?

Humans have a tendency to assume the worst when the intent of communication isn’t clear. The negative bias that once alerted the brain of cavemen and cavewomen of potential dangers, like bears or alligators, is still very active in the minds of today’s modern workers. 

How do we overcome negative biases hijacking the intended meanings of our communications and ensure our messages aren’t misunderstood 50 percent of the time?

Use emojis.

4 Reasons to Use More Emojis at Work

1. Emoji acceptance is growing.

An early indicator of how culturally-ingrained emojis had become was in 2015 when the Oxford Dictionaries' “Word of the Year” wasn’t a word but actually the emoji, 😂.

Sixty-one percent of emoji users use emojis at work. Twenty-six million custom emojis have been created in Slack since the “Add Custom Emoji” feature was introduced and “emoji use is basically universal” for the 13 million daily active users of Microsoft's unified communication and collaboration platform, Teams.

2. Emojis help clarify emotional intent.

Research indicates that the same part of the brain that processes human faces also processes emojis. When an emoji conveys a human emotion, it can be transferred in a text. Therefore, emojis help communicators manage the emotional tone of digital messages. And emojis help recipients interpret the tone of digital messages.

For example, an “Ok” text from someone can be interpreted as acceptance, apathy, submissive, passive aggressive, or others. But an "Ok 😃” text is easily interpreted as positive acceptance. Adding an emoji removes the emotional ambiguity. Emojis can also create more efficiency by quickly conveying the intent and context that would otherwise be missing in a message.

Unsure what emoji to use for a certain emotion? Use Emojipedia to search emojis by emotions or other categories. 

3. Emojis enhance relationships.

The proper use of emojis help people form relationships and understand one another, according to a recent review of 50 studies on the use and impacts of emojis in communication.

More specifically, when emojis are used at work, the majority of emoji users feel they positively impact likability (78 percent) and credibility (63 percent), and make positive news more sincere (74 percent). And 81 percent of emoji users believe that people who use emojis are friendlier and more approachable. 

In addition, 94 percent of emoji users said the “ability to communicate across language barriers” was the greatest benefit of using emojis.

4. Emojis can close the generational gap.

While using emojis at work is becoming more commonplace, many of the mixed views of emojis can be explained largely by age. In general, the emerging generations (Millennials and Gen Z) place more value on using emojis while established generations (Gen X and Baby Boomers) tend to view emojis as unprofessional and counterproductive.

Professionals over 45 years-old, are more likely to say that emoji use at work is inappropriate versus appropriate. In addition...

  • Only 15 percent think emojis improve workplace communication
  • 29 percent say it makes colleagues look unprofessional; the number jumps to 36 percent when upper management uses them
  • 22 percent say it makes colleagues come across as either annoying, less genuine, or less competent

Conversely, young professionals overwhelming view emojis as appropriate for work. In fact, only 17 percent of young adults consider emoji use unprofessional.

Using emojis with Gen Z is a low risk, high return way to connect with and influence the next-generation workforce.

Here are a few reasons emojis might be the answer to closing the generational gap when communicating with Gen Z.

  1. Emojis are native to them.
  1. Emojis are “work-appropriate” to them.
  1. Emojis elicit truer emotion.
    • 58 percent of Gen Z feel emojis best express their emotions, compared to 48 percent of Millennials, 34 percent of Gen X and 37 percent of Boomers. And 83 percent of Gen Zare more comfortable expressing their emotions through emojis than a phone call, compared to 71 percent of Millennials, 61 percent of Gen X and 53 percent of Baby Boomer
  1. Emojis improve perceptions.
    • When a colleague uses emojis in their communications with Gen Z, Gen Z finds them to be more fun (50 percent), more approachable (43 percent), and kinder (35 percent).
  1. Emojis can show support.
  1. Emojis allow expression.

Beyond emojis, sending GIFs to Gen Z can provide similar benefits as highlighted above. However, there can be greater risk of misinterpretation with GIFs as certain cultural references depicted in the GIF may not extend across generations. When using a GIF be sure the Gen Z recipient will get the intent behind the reference.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ryan Jenkins is an internationally-recognized keynote speaker and author on the topics of leadership, generational differences, and the future of work. He is the co-founder of SyncLX, which creates lasting learning experiences for companies' #1 asset, their people.

Would you like insights like these shared at your organization? Sync Learning Experiences helps companies big and small deliver training via LMS courses, live workshops (in-person and virtual), and custom L&D solutions. Click here to get in touch with our team.

4 Ways Technology Is Changing the Way You Work

Technology is changing work forever. Here are a few examples of companies who are adapting.

While there is plenty to be cautious about with technology, most would agree that technology enriches life more than it depletes life.

As long as the benefits outweigh the harm, humans will continue to embrace technology.

Today, technology is being embraced at break-neck speeds. For example, the dockless scooter-share company, Bird, operates in 120 cities, has over two million unique riders, and recently surpassed 11.5 million rides in just 18 months.

As technology gets embraced faster and faster, it’s not only changing the way we live but also the way we work.

4 Ways Technology Is Changing the Way You Work

1. Company Structure

Labor is no longer centralized. The modern workforce is global and distributed.

Example: The ice cream company, Halo Top, grew from $230,000 in 2013 to more than $100 million in 2018 without a company office. All 75 full-time employees work remotely and use the chat app, Slack, to communicate.

2. Information Structure

Information is no longer centralized. People are informed and empowered.

Example: The note-taking software company, Evernote, allows any employee to teach anything. At the Evernote Academy, employees have taught classes ranging from managing others and navigating conflict to lock-picking and Lego-building.

3. Leadership Approach

Influence is no longer centralized. A network approach is replacing hierarchy.

Example: General Motors is going beyond the organizational chart by using social capital to provide a more realistic picture of how employees work with each other, how new ideas are discovered, and decisions are made. According to Michael J. Arena, Chief Talent Officer at GM, "The social connections that happen deeper inside the organization that may not resemble the formal organizational chart enhance speed, agility, and innovation.” 

4. Roles and Responsibilities

Skill is no longer centralized. Artificial intelligence and robotics will force re-skilling.

Example: At SoftWear Automation they are using robots to make clothing. Their “sewbots” can produce 1,142 t-shirts in 8 hours which is the work of 17 humans without any human intervention. 

Expect these work elements and others to continue changing as Generation Z begins to enter the workforce.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ryan Jenkins is an internationally-recognized keynote speaker and author on the topics of leadership, generational differences, and the future of work. He is the co-founder of SyncLX, which creates lasting learning experiences for companies' #1 asset, their people.

Would you like insights like these shared at your organization? Sync Learning Experiences helps companies big and small deliver training via LMS courses, live workshops (in-person and virtual), and custom L&D solutions. Click here to get in touch with our team.

5 Tips to Be a Better Inclusive Leader

Anyone serious about leading inclusively, should consider these five behaviors.

Beyond the positive bottom-line impacts of diversity and inclusion, Celeste Warren, VP of Human Resources and Global Diversity and Inclusion at Merck, believes “there is an awakening” happening as it relates to how organizations should approach diversity and inclusion.

Employees don’t leave what’s happening inside their families and communities at the doorstep of work. Organizations and leaders have to understand and be prepared to engage workers in what once was considered too personal or touchy topics. 

“We can’t expect people to just turn it off when they come into the work environment,” says Warren in my recent interview with her where she shared five tips for leading inclusively.

5 Tips to Be a Better Inclusive Leader

1. Develop a listening and empathetic ear

“[Leaders must] create an environment where they open their doors and listen,” says Warren. "They don’t have to have all the answers because that would be highly improbable but a listening and empathetic ear can help create an environment where employees are more productive and engaged."

2. Understand the varying generational definitions of diversity

Baby Boomers and Generation X tend to define diversity along the traditional lines of gender, race, and ethnicity. However, Millennials and Generation Z tend to define diversity more multi-layered ways. "Generation Z thinks more diversely because they’ve been surrounded by diverse, global perspectives through social media and other technology,” says Warren.

The emerging generations also view diversity and inclusion as fundamental to the way a company does business, more so than previous generations. In fact, 53 percent of Millennials would leave their current organization for a more inclusive one and 30 percent have left an organization for a more inclusive one.

3. Embody these inclusive characteristics

According to Warren, there are five characteristics inclusive leaders need to embody.

  1. Collaborative
  2. Great listeners
  3. High yearning to learn
  4. Perceptive and self-aware of potential unconscious bias that may hinder decision-making
  5. Bring the best out of themselves and others
(Read this for six questions that reveal if you are an inclusive leader.)

4. Know when not to have the answer

"An inclusive leader knows when to have the answers and when to let the team figure it out,” says Warren. “If the answer is ‘no’, leaders should provide the context and encourage employees to come back [to the leader] in the future."

Inclusive leaders must be self-aware enough to know when they don’t have the answer and they have to be perceptive enough to know who on the team might have a similar working style or background that might be better equipped to address the issue.

5. Nurture creativity and innovation

"Create strong group dynamics and an environment where people feel energized, empowered, and engaged to speak their minds,” says Warren. "An inclusive leader should have the ability to unleash the creativity of their team, achieve predetermined objectives, and see the larger opportunities that exist for the team and organization."

Listen to my full interview with Celeste Warren here.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ryan Jenkins is an internationally-recognized keynote speaker and author on the topics of leadership, generational differences, and the future of work. He is the co-founder of SyncLX, which creates lasting learning experiences for companies' #1 asset, their people.

Would you like insights like these shared at your organization? Sync Learning Experiences helps companies big and small deliver training via LMS courses, live workshops (in-person and virtual), and custom L&D solutions. Click here to get in touch with our team.