© Helvetas / RECONOMY

Partnering with Generation Z

FROM: Sabin Selimi , Emilija Jovanova Stoilkova, Vartan Surmejan, Zenebe B. Uraguchi - 15. February 2022
© Helvetas / RECONOMY

Now more than ever is the time for development organizations to refine their communication tactics for Generation Z. Wondering how to make communication plans that can account for Generation Z and to better understand how they communicate? Here’s our take.

But first, who are they?

Generation Z refers to anyone between the years 1995 and 2010. This means that anyone who’s between 7 and 26 is a part of Generation Z as of 2022.

According to McKinsey's research, Generation Zers are radically inclusive in terms of distinguishing between friends they meet virtually in the digital sphere and those in the physical world. In terms of social media. They also prefer new platforms like TikTok and to some extent Instagram over the megaliths, such as Facebook. This could likely equally be attributed to simply wanting to hang with their peers of the same generation and forge their paths outside of the eyes of the old folks.

From a communication perspective, the gap between the oldest and the youngest members of Generation Z is big due to the huge developmental differences. Generation Zers have been exposed to the internet, social networks, and mobile systems. Technology is such a central part of their upbringing. Yet, only a relatively small portion of the generation has entered the world of work.

However, there’re some emerging features. There’re lots of unknowns, and the current trends can change as the younger portion of the generation grows older. Generation Z are ‘communaholic’ as more willing to communicate and have a feeling that technology is important for productivity, thus they’re tech-savvy.

Here's what we've learned how to approach them

Generation Z takes in information instantaneously but loses interest just as fast. So, what makes communication more effective towards Generation Z?

The first thing first is to post information at the right time on social media. Getting through to the target audience means meeting them where they are. One way to do that is by figuring out the right time the target audience is most active on social media and posting during those windows. When the time is right, there’ll be more eyes on the content.

Another is to be original and authentic. Generation Z was brought up on social media. As a result, social networks are a great way to get in touch with this generation. But what can you do to engage with them? Generation Z values personability and authenticity. Development organizations should make sure not to come across as faceless but appear more like a friend. Maintaining personability and authenticity is important.

One way to make sure posts show authenticity is to make sure they’re original. The more original the content is, the more its unique voice will shine through, and that’s what authenticity is all about.

That isn’t all. Gen Z communicates with images. Hence focusing on visuals works for Generation Z. Generally speaking, humans tend to connect faster with visuals like videos and photos than anything else like pure text. For instance, to display a large amount of information in a post, consider opting for an infographic instead of a huge chunk of text.

Finally, did you know that most people, especially Generation Zers, don’t see non-governmental organizations as credible sources of information? Yes, you read it right. Peers like yourselves and even regular employees are all more credible than the organization itself.

If you wonder where they built this trust, our bet is on social media. Digitalization has led to the decentralization of communications. Access to powerful channels is no longer limited to public relations departments and traditional media. One of the episodes of the ‘Inclusive Plug powered by RECONOMY’ podcast focuses on exactly this topic, on why you need to become a brand ambassador for the organization you work for.

These brand ambassadors are influencers, who can play a big role at work but also for the wider audience out there. Following on the same theme of personability and authenticity, working with influencers—or champions of knowledge management, learning, and communications—is a great way to reach Generation Z as a target audience. These brand ambassadors appear more like trusted friends to this generation, which instills a sense of trust. This trust then makes it more likely that the audience will follow the organization’s work and activities.

Generation Z and the workplace

RECONOMY’s target group fits within the age group of Generation Z. When exploring the potential sectors in which the regional program is designing and implementing its interventions, this fact was at the center of our discussions. What is it that attracts these people? Where and how do they see themselves in the workplace? Which skills are they attracted to? Which skills do they lack? How do they learn? How do they work?

There’s no doubt that Generation Zers are more tech-savvy and prefer to have more freedom when it comes to work and communication with others, although blending with the other colleagues of different generations is another skill they would need to master.

This means that employers need to learn how to communicate with Generation Z – both in physical and virtual worlds. Such a hybrid approach is the preferred workplace for them, allowing them to work from home some days and in the office on other days by using their technical skills and knowledge. The more employers foster this kind of approach and nourish the work-life balance, the better chance they have of keeping the Generation Z talents they have and attracting more.

Generation Zers have different needs and interests from previous generations. They’ve shown to have high digital competencies and are very much goal-oriented, but also work-life balance-focused. They prefer working with new technologies. Their learning preference also differs from the other generations. They have a fully self-reliant and independent approach to learning.

The blended approach to training where they can execute their learning through real-world assignments is their top preference. They are keener on short interval training so they can easily insert the training into their day-to-day lives. They want to be autonomous and be able to also work remotely using the various technological devices they easily master.

Many of RECONOMY’s interventions are designed having the above in mind. A good example is the ICT-BPO sector. RECONOMY supports the enhancement of demand-driven ICT and game development skills. The interventions aim to enable gaining skills on how to become freelancers, but also specific skills in the food and textile and apparel industries where target groups learn how to apply the latest technologies in their demand-driven workplaces.

Communication Manager of the RECONOMY Program
Knowledge Management and Learning Manager of the RECONOMY Program
Vartan holds a Master's degree in Event Marketing & Management accompanied with hands-on experience in the business and development sector. His professional career displays work in theater, marketing agencies, film festivals in the region of Southeast Europe, coordination of the EU IPA project and acting as Export Promotion Manager with Swiss development program in export promotion. Skilled creative writer who sharpens communication skills in international business environment (Europe, LATAM, Asia, Africa). Vartan has solid background in service development by implementing innovative methods in service design.
Programme Manager, East Europe, South Caucuses & Western Balkans; Senior Advisor, Sustainable & Inclusive Economies