Millennials & Gen Z in the Workplace: The next generation of business unfolds

The workplace is ever changing and as technology advances, so does the workforce. The newest generation brings different tools to the table.

Matt Stewart is the co-founder of College Works Painting, which provides internships students with real-life business management.

According to his findings, the youngest generation entering the workforce -— the Generation Z (those born after 2000) have a shorter attention span than millennials, but a greater fear of missing out than their previous generation. While social media is a daily routine for most, the mediums in which millennials interact and share things of Facebook and Twitter are slowly fading out. With software monitoring and the apparent consequences of oversharing, this next generation frequents sharing on less permanent apps like Snapchat.

With the future workforce growing up in the age of new technologies, ranging from 3-D printers, tablets, and 360-degree photography, it’s no surprise that technology in the workplace is both relevant and a necessity going forward.

For local boutique public relations agency Piper & Gold (P&G), it’s the foundation of their daily work. Kate Snyder began the company five years ago and has over 15 years of industry experience. Ranging from arts, education, natural resources and state government, P&G aims to use public relations to make a difference. They know words are important and that technology and social media plays a big role within that message. Working alongside companies that want to do good in the community is P&G’s specialty, it’s what drives them.

“Finding employees for niche work isn’t always easy,” Snyder said. “We have to find those people who are that perfect alignment of the skills that we need and the top-talent. When you’re a small agency, you have to have the best of the best. Everybody has to be exceptional at what they do. They must also care about the same things we care about. We are constantly developing talent and cultivating relationships so that, when we choose to grow, we are doing it for the right people.”

Though it’s a small agency of just eight on staff, that doesn’t mean P&G has a handful of cookie-cutter employees. Rather, their staff is diverse in experience and spans generations.

“We really pride ourselves at the agency on bringing a fresh perspective to public relations,” Snyder said. “Our team has varying quantities of experience, but the thing that kind of ties us all together is that we want to look differently at public relations and look differently at how we’re communicating with people.”

For P&G, as well as other marketing, public relations, advertising and branding agencies, technology is an important tool for getting out messages to preferred target audiences.

“I think technology absolutely plays an integral role,” Snyder said. “We use technology, not just to push out messages, but to actually impact people, to change behaviors, to provide the kinds of services and resources that our clients provide. It’s really about using these technology tools in a different way to innovate how people are not just receiving information, but what they’re doing with that information. I think that that is both a result of our youthful culture and part of why we’re continuing to be able to attract millennials and talent who want to make a difference and who want to be respected and valued and heard, but also recognizes that there’s value in hierarchy and there’s opportunities to improve.”

Edythe Hatter-Williams, CEO of Capital Area Michigan Works! (CAMW!) has worked for the workforce agency since the late nineties and has seen plenty of changes over the years.

“Our mission is to enhance the quality and productivity of people in business by providing a world-class workforce,” Hatter-Williams said.

CAMW! provides recruitment and retention strategies for businesses, sources for job seekers to enhance education and career opportunities and more in this demand-driven workforce development system, according to its mission. Housed within is an international truck driving school, Career Quest Learning Center operations, New Horizon Computer Learning Center classes, Lansing School District programs and Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) operations.

“Economic development, workforce development and education are all intertwined,” Hatter-Williams said. “It’s important that we work together so that not only do the residents in our region have the ability to have training in in-demand occupations, but also that we can let companies know we have a very strong partnership and we’re going to do whatever we need to do to make sure they have the workforce that they need.”

Current partnerships between CAMW! include programs with the Lansing School District, enabling connections be made between students: the future workforce and surrounding companies and career paths.

Junior Achievement of Mid-Michigan (JA) recently held a reverse job-shadow event at Everett High School, which invited local companies to visit classrooms and teach students about what a day in the life of their jobs entailed.

Chelsea Allen, Financial Services representative II at Michigan State University Federal Credit Union (MSUFCU) participated in the event at the high school. She is a volunteer for JA through MSUFCU, partnering with different financial programs to students throughout the greater Lansing area.

“I was very excited to hear that this event was going to be held at Everett because I currently teach a personal finance course through JA to Mr. K’s economic students who are juniors,” Allen said. “Talking about yourself and what you do is not usually something that you do on a daily basis, let alone three hours in a row, but I truly felt that I reached several students and they were able to see what I do on a daily basis and how I got to where I am today.”

Connecting students, and the young workforce is imperative because they are the future leaders, and events like this enable connections.

An additional project for CAMW! is the T3 initiative. An abbreviation for teach, talent and thrive, the initiative aims to make the capital region the destination for youth development in the workplace.

“While some people may shy away from hiring young folks, I look at that as an opportunity because you have this broad spectrum of knowledge and wisdom,” said William-Hatter.

Snyder, just a hair past the millennial generation, agreed that the stereotype or negative stigma surrounding the particular generation hasn’t been evident in her company.

“So many people have this sense of millennials as this entitled culture, and here, we strive to break that perception,” she said. According to Snyder, these employees are smart, capable, constantly challenging themselves and stepping out of their comfort zones to look at situations differently.

“We have this team of these so-called entitled millennials who are anything but. They are hungry for opportunities and they really do bring a lot to the table,” added Snyder. “It’s just about creating an environment in which they can thrive, in which they understand that there is opportunity and that they can make a difference.”

Providing an engaging workplace and environment where excellence and meaningful respect is expected, and giving young employees the responsibility to step-up is truly beneficial.

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Sarah Spohn

Sarah Spohn

Sarah Spohn received her degree in Journalism from Lansing Community College. She’s a concert junkie; living and breathing in both the local and national music scene. She is proud to call Lansing her home, finding a new reason every day to be smitten with the mitten.

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