Communicating with Generation Z

Block letter "Z"No that’s not a typo. There’s a new generation of workers preparing to enter the workplace from college – Generation Z.

According to the article “Get Ready to Hire Generation Z” by Penelope Trunk, this group of future co-workers finds email intolerable, processes information like a “speed demon” and has little interest in job titles and hierarchy.

They are also described as lifelong learners, who are motivated through interesting work and the opportunity to participate in challenging projects that expand their knowledge base.

Employee communicators – and most organizations – haven’t done a very good job adapting our workplace communications for Gen Y. We have been slow to adopt social media for internal communications purposes, we rely heavily on email push to get the word out, and our copy has remained bloated, with large blocks of text.

Gen Z will have little tolerance for these practices.

Instead, Trunk advises organizations to prepare for Generation Z by adopting these communication guidelines:

  1. Keep it short. Most Gen Zs use phones as their primary means of communication, so ditch the compound, complex sentences and write in microbursts.
  2. Focus on social media. This generation wants to interact, not be fed information, and wants to see and be seen.
  3. Emphasize knowledge attainment over professional advancement. Managers of Generation Z will need to re-calibrate their thoughts on motivating those workers and focus on new assignments as an opportunity to learn a new skill, rather than an opportunity to earn a new title.

Don’t delay: the first wave of Gen Zs will enter the workforce in May 2012.


About Susan Rink

Susan C. Rink is president and owner of Rink Strategic Communications, LLC ( and a partner in Triple Play Consulting.
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2 Responses to Communicating with Generation Z

  1. Adam says:

    Susan, Penelope Trunk is one of my favorite bloggers about generations at work, writing and life.

    I agree with your assessment about organizations not doing a good job of adapting to Gen. Y. My feeling is it’ll take the current crop of leaders, mostly traditionalists, to retire before we see a lot of movement. I also believe what’s good for Gen. Y and soon to be Z is good for internal communications. We need more, shorter and collaborative communications in organizations. If you can’t comment on an intranet post, “like” it, or otherwise engage with it, you’re missing the boat.

    I’m also one of those 30% who would prefer you text me rather than call or email me.

  2. Susan Rink says:

    Completely agree, Adam. I know there are many “old school” leaders who are supportive of open, collaborative communications and encourage their comms staffs to introduce new ways to engage with their workforce. But they seem to be the exception rather than the norm.

    Thanks so much for commenting! Susan

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