| |

Speak Gen Z: How to Effectively Communicate with the Newest Generation in the Workplace

As the youngest millennials approach their thirties, Generation Z, also known as zoomers, is entering the workforce and bringing powerful changes to workplace dynamics, particularly in terms of communication. How should older generations, like Millennials, GenX and Boomers communicate with the newest workforce generation? As someone on the cusp between Millennial and Gen Z, I have a unique perspective to help you navigate it! 

It is essential to bear in mind that the following information relies on generalizations of an entire generation, and every single person is different and has a multitude of experiences that form how they communicate. Keep that in mind – and keep reading for how to communicate with Generation Z effectively!

What is Gen Z?

Smash Mouth said, “Well, the years start comin’ and they don’t stop comin’.”

If you’re mentally stuck in a loop of thinking that millennials are all in their early 20s and the 90s were 10 years ago, you’re not alone. But the reality is, the youngest millennials are nearing their 30s while the oldest millennials are gracing 42 years old!

Join Our Newsletter!

Want to learn all about unique places, fascinating people, and fun things to do in the Northwest? Subscribe to our free monthly newsletter!

Generation Z is now entering the workplace. They’re bringing powerful changes to workplace dynamics – especially in terms of communication.

Generation Z, also known as zoomers, gen z and generation zero, are those born between 1997 and 2012. The older zoomers are at the start of their careers and are forging their own paths.

I was born right at the end of 1995, and identify with both millennials and zoomers. Given my career in communications, I have researched the generational differences in communications.

Keep in mind, most of the following information relies on generalizations of an entire generation. Every single person is different and has a multitude of experiences that form how they communicate.  

Communicating with Gen Z in the Workplace: Five Tips

Don’t Copy Their Slang

communicate with Generation Z effectively

Every generation has its slang. I recall a much younger me saying things like “grody” for gross, “big mood” when something was relatable, “yolo” when I was making a terrible decision or “hella” in place of very or a lot (I actually still say “hella,” but that’s my hella embarrassing habit.) 

However, if an older adult would have said grody to me, I would have shuddered on the spot with second-hand embarrassment.

Gen Z Slang

Bop or banger – Used if a song is good

Slap – Used if food, a song or event is good 

Smack – Used if food is good 

Rizz – Used in short for charisma

Menty-B  – Used in i short for a mental breakdown

Cringe – Used a verb and an adjective to describe something lame or embarrassing

Cheugy – Used to describe millennial trends that are out of style. 

– There are more slang words … but you get the idea.

It’s not worth it to use this slang in an attempt to impress Gen Zers. Using their terms won’t make them admire your “rad street cred.” It will probably make you look like you’re trying way too hard.

Let’s say you’re in a conversation with a zoomer and they use a term you don’t know and context clues are not helping. 

Ask them what it means, say something to the effect of “Huh, I learn something new every day,” and keep it moving. Do not try to slip it into conversations or make fun of the term.

Honor Their Boundaries

If there’s one thing we all can learn from Gen Z, it’s professional boundaries. Gen Z is hard-working and great at coming up with quick solutions. While this is a generalization, Gen Zers make for great colleagues, managers, and leaders.

That being said, they’re less likely to burn themselves out trying to impress an employer or colleague. This is a vast contrast to millennials and Generation X, who were easily motivated by hustle culture, even when it meant burnout. If you want to ensure you communicate with Generation Z effectively, take this to heart.

If zoomers aren’t appreciated and respected in the workplace, they’re not afraid to move on and find a new job. Job hopping terrified the older generations because they believed future employers would judge. Gen Z is not intimidated by employers who look down on job hopping. 

They’ll just go find better employers.

In the workplace, give zoomers the space and security to declare their work boundaries. If they state a boundary, honor it.

Some boundaries that a strong majority of zoomers appreciate include:

  • Do not overwork them. Zoomers are happy to do their job and are quick to jump in and help if something is wrong.
    • However, times they’re needed to go above and beyond should be an exception, not a rule. Expect them to do their job and do it well, but do not put extra work on their plate without a promotion. It’s called “acting your wage.”
  • Uphold their work-life balance. Time off the clock is their time, not yours. If it’s outside of work hours, do not call, email, text, or even worse, DM them about work projects on social media.
  • Pay them fairly. Don’t try to undercut them. They’re not afraid to discuss their salaries with colleagues and they will find out who is getting paid what.
  • Approve their PTO without needing an explanation of what they do with their time. It’s their time.

These simple boundaries can foster great professional relationships, regardless of generational differences.

Related: The Best Co-working Spots Around Spokane, Washington

Be Realistic About Your Corporate Lingo

As per my previous point about slang in the workplace, most workplaces adhere to a corporate lingo that could be its own language. Phrases such as “warm regards,” “as per my last email,” and “circle back” are common examples. 

Corporate jargon promotes politeness and mutual respect when used correctly. Otherwise, it can also be passive-aggressive. In order to communicate with Generation Z effectively, make sure to reread your emails and texts with corporate lingo and consider if it’s passive-aggressive. If it is, rewrite it and resend it.

If you’re using corporate lingo to deliver criticism or bad news, be as direct as possible while still being kind. If you can’t imagine using this corporate language out loud, do not write it in an email.

Support Their Entrepreneurial Goals

Several studies and articles have noted that Gen z is one of the most entrepreneurial generations we’ve seen in a while. An article by Bernard Schroeder of Forbes notes that as much as 54% of Gen Zers indicated they want to start their own business.

After the 2008 recession, millennials popularized side hustles to help cover living expenses. 

Zoomers are following that path of creating side hustles, side businesses, and multiple streams of income – not just to survive, but to thrive. If you want to communicate with Generation Z effectively, embrace this!

Many are finding they can create extra income streams through the internet. Some of these income streams include content creation, affiliate marketing, digital downloads, dropshipping, virtual assistant work, and more.

If a zoomer tells you about their entrepreneurial aspirations, be supportive. If you have constructive feedback, offer it. This entrepreneurial spirit can add a lot of value to your team and lead to fresh ideas.

Approach With Empathy

It’s fair to say that everyone missed a few years of their life during the pandemic. Gen Z found themselves missing huge milestones in their youth. 

For example, one of my siblings was a senior in high school in 2020 and missed prom, graduation and had to finish out her senior year online. 

Gen Z has also never known a world without the internet. Having access to social media and the internet was considered a standard for much of their formative years.

When working with zoomers, approach them with empathy – they had a childhood far different from yours. 

They interact and see the world differently, but that’s also their superpower. They have fresh ideas and a fresh perspective.

One Last Piece of Advice: How to Communicate With Generation Z Effectively

There is one thing that transcends generational differences and it’s RESPECT.

Communicating with respect is always a good call. Treat them how you would like to be treated. 

We have a lot to learn from Gen Z. From work-life balance, to their tech-savvy approach to projects, it’s clear that they will add something special to the workplace. 

Personally, I refuse to treat Gen Z with the same blame and vitriol that millennials received as they entered the workforce. I predict that Gen Zers are going to change industries, topple systems of injustice, and they’re going to make it entertaining as hell!

If you are a Gen Z, what other tips or advice would you give to other generations in the workplace? In societal interactions? Tell us in the comments below! 

Christine Burns

Christine Burns is a local entrepreneur, public speaker, content creator, model, and writer from Spokane, WA. She’s an expert in marketing and owns Posted Consulting LLC, an award-winning PR firm. Born and raised in the Inland Northwest, Christine loves to support and advocate for local businesses and artists, and even hosts the annual Spokane Small Business Convention in the spring.


Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *