A little more than half the baby boom generation is now eligible to retire. How many of them actually have isn’t quite clear. Nonetheless, they are gradually aging out of the workforce. Who is coming up behind them? Generation Z. As Gen Z replaces retiring baby boomers, the workplace needs to change. To illustrate the point, let us talk about feedback.How often have companies talked about feedback over the last several decades? Culturally speaking, we say it is a good thing. Employees try to encourage feedback by offering suggestion boxes. Likewise, employees get feedback with their annual performance evaluations. But how much two-way feedback is really going on? Is most of it really just lip service?
Gen Z Expects Feedback
How valuable is feedback to Gen Z workers? According to a 2018 survey, it’s critical in their eyes. The survey revealed that 97% are agreeable to the concept of giving and receiving feedback. More than 63% consider feedback a critical factor in whether they will stick with a job.Gen Z is not afraid of constructive feedback. They are not afraid of failure. As they see it, both represent an opportunity to do better. Therefore, they welcome constructive feedback from their employers. But that’s not all. They expect to be able to offer feedback of their own – and have it acknowledged and addressed.
Feedback In Both Directions
BenefitMall, a general agency based in Dallas, encourages its benefits brokers to help employers look at benefits from from the perspective of employee health and wellness concerns. They encourage employers to look beyond standard and voluntary benefits to embrace intangibles – including developing a company culture that encourages two-way feedback.
The two-way concept is non-negotiable to Gen Z. They expect feedback in both directions. In fact, few things make Gen Zers feel like little more than a cog in the wheel than the inability to offer constructive feedback they are confident their employers will take seriously. And if Gen Z workers feel like cogs in a wheel, they have no trouble looking for employment elsewhere.
They Want Partnerships
A good way to look at the feedback issue is to consider a partnership between two entrepreneurs. The success of their joint venture depends on both contributing to the business in their respective ways. Both need to be able to freely communicate with each other. Both need to be able to give feedback that will be listened to and respected.
Gen Z employees want the same thing. Unlike their baby boomer counterparts, they do not accept the traditional employer-employee relationship the treats workers as human resources. Gen Z employees see themselves as valuable partners in the business arena. They believe they have just as much to contribute as the executives in the boardroom.
This is a hard pill for many a modern company to swallow. For so long, our system has maintained a traditional view that employers hold all the cards and workers must play what is dealt to them. That may have worked in times past, but those days are long gone.
More Than Mere Talk
Companies have been talking about constructive feedback for decades. But they have attempted to implement feedback policies based on the traditional employer-employee relationship. To many in the Gen Z demographic, this amounts to little more than talking about feedback. Gen Z wants more than mere talk.
Company’s hoping to make the most of the Gen Z workforce need to rethink their feedback policies. They need to see feedback through the same lens as Gen Z views it. Then they need to implement the genuine two-way feedback this younger generation expects.