Changing and updating enterprise technology is a process that historically has included only the organization’s top decision-makers. The C-suite makes decisions that IT teams then carry out, with little if any input from frontline employees. This closed-door tactic to tech implementation has a serious downside: It leaves no room for employee feedback or buy-in.
Today, leading enterprises increasingly recognize the value of including the workers who ultimately have to implement and use new software into the conversation. Beyond that, many employers have started to welcome their latest tech-adept Gen Z hires as an asset in these decisions. By encouraging and engaging Gen Z to catalyze technological change from day one, enterprises foster a new generation of empowered, engaged employees.
While members of Gen Z are known for their tech aptitude, eagerness and autonomy, they’re also young; the generation’s oldest members are just a few years into the workforce. So how can enterprises show them that their voice counts?
Asking your youngest employees for feedback and positioning them as tech leaders democratizes the decision-making process. The best approach is to create a system that favors merit, not seniority, so the best ideas can rise to the top. This will ensure better technology choices, increase employee engagement, and inspire broader and earlier employee buy-in.
The first generation of digital natives changes the workplace
This year, the Gen Z population will surpass that of millennials, and employers need to understand and leverage the digital native generation’s insights.
While Gen Z’s predecessors — particularly Millennials — had plenty of tech exposure, Gen Z is the first generation of true digital natives. As new technologies continue to emerge, Gen Zers adapt to change in stride, with an innately collaborative, pragmatic mindset.
Because Gen Z is hardwired for efficiency and autonomy, organizations often run into problems when they implement tools that Gen Z employees deem obsolete or inefficient. A recent study on Gen Z employees in the U.S. workplace found that when they were given the choice to use an app recommended by their company or one they’ve identified to complete their task more efficiently, 79% of Gen Z will always choose the latter. And they’re not wrong to do so.
Why trust your youngest employees?
Gen Z comes to entry-level positions already equipped with an arsenal of technological knowledge – most of it involving tech that didn’t exist when older generations entered the workforce. This inherently positions Gen Z employees as tech experts among their more-senior colleagues and managers. In fact, 72% of managers surveyed think that Gen Z has a higher technical aptitude than they do.
Managers trust that Gen Zers are tech savvy, so it’s only natural for leadership to establish regular processes for their youngest employees to share their expertise with the organization as a whole.
Here are three reasons why Gen Z employees may be the drivers of your next tech evolutions:
- Involving Gen Z in decision-making makes them feel valued and more likely to stay. The newest generation of workers finds motivation in meaningful work that benefits their companies long-term. According to Nintex’s study, 31% of Gen Zers say they would leave their current job sooner than planned if their work didn’t feel meaningful. Allowing Gen Z to weigh in on tech decision-making and offering them a platform to voice their thoughts boosts retention by helping them feel more involved.
- Gen Zers are in-house IT experts. Instead of submitting an IT ticket the moment they run into a tech problem, most Gen Zers surveyed by Nintex look to solve issues on their own. But Gen Z’s technical aptitude doesn’t stop at solving their own technical problems; they also offer technical support to teammates. Nintex’s study shows that more than eight in 10 Gen Z employees said their managers have asked them to solve a tech problem, with about 30% saying it happens “extremely frequently.”
- Gen Z knows the tools that promote company collaboration and compliance. Fresh out of college, younger employees are no strangers to group work. They’ve been the beta testers for digital collaboration tools to complete assignments as efficiently as possible. Gen Z can connect you with the latest, most powerful apps and tools on the market. In addition, allowing workers flexibility increases the likelihood that your entire company will feel satisfied with their tech tools. . Technology leaders have started to notice the impact Gen Z makes on tech adoption. Eighty percent of business leaders surveyed by Nintex said their organization had adopted a technology practice solely because a Gen Z employee requested it.
Innovative leaders want to outfit their workers with tech solutions that allow employees to do their best work. Sometimes, though, we’re only guessing at the right solutions, when we should be asking for feedback from best positioned to provide it. This can create dissonance that prompts top talent to leave for other opportunities.
The youngest generation of workers navigate today’s digital world with ease. Now, it’s up to enterprise leaders to look past generational differences, embrace their newest employees’ tech input and empower the workforce of the future.
is chief evangelist at Nintex. Ryan has 20-plus years of global IT experience and is responsible for defining Nintex's product strategy to help people solve business process problems. Ryan holds degrees in computer science and psychology from Victoria University of Wellington.