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Gen Z communication style: how to grasp the generation with the briefest attention span

Published:

July 27, 2023

Updated:

December 28, 2023

“Hey Alex 👋Are you in the office tomorrow? Can we meet at 2?”

Does it sound a bit too friendly to you? Well, this is a typical message you could receive from your youngest colleagues! Gen Z’s communication style is concise, informal, and ideally in text format. But this does not fully characterize Generation Z's communication preferences. They also value transparency and in-person interactions, for example. Growing up at the same time as the boom of tech and digitalization has heavily shaped this demographic group. Thus, they have very different expectations compared to Millennials or other generations regarding communicating in a professional environment.

Gen Z, along with Gen Y (Millennials), will soon represent the biggest demographic group in the workplace.  Therefore, knowing how to connect with them is essential. Let’s explore the needs and expectations of the “instant” Gen together and discover the methods and tools to prioritize in order to communicate efficiently with the generation with the shortest attention span!

Generation Z: who are they?

The late ’90s Gen

Gen Z is the demographic group that represents people born between 1997 and 2012. Students who attended short-term degrees started entering the workplace in 2013. But for those who chose to study longer, they have just stepped into the world of work.

Like any previous generation, Generation Z has been influenced by the era they grew up in. For this late ’90s group, this means technology, digitalization, global warming, social injustice, and individualism. All these aspects are present in the Gen Z communication style.

The “snack media” generation

This demographic group is the generation with the shortest attention span. Many studies reveal that the timeframe you have to catch their interest is no longer than 8 to 12 seconds maximum. Quite and short, right? This is why they are called the “instant” gen or the “snack media” generation.

Scrolling, swiping, clicking… How rapidly their eyes and brains go from one piece of information to another is shocking. For this reason, their level of content consumption is also high. So how do you capture their attention and make them stop? Keep reading to find out! 

A multitasking group

In an article called “True Gen’: Generation Z and its implications for companies”, McKinsey describes this demographic group as a “hypercognitive generation very comfortable with collecting and cross-referencing many sources of information and with integrating virtual and offline experience”.

One of the most impressive skills of Gen Z is their ability to multitask. While Millennials usually work with three screens simultaneously, their youngest colleagues can easily handle five1. With social media, their brains are so used to going from one piece of content to another and grabbing the information within seconds. But again, not all communication styles are efficient enough to grasp the short attention span of these workers. 

💡 To learn more regarding this demographic group we recommend you read our article about Gen Z’s characteristics and what they are known for. 

cake with gen z written on it
Gen Z

Gen Z communication style: how to interact with the youngest employees?

Written communication for Generation Z

If you need to talk to Mark, one of your Gen Z team members, about a project, should you call, send him a voice message, or text him? Your best option to get his attention is to send him a quick message.

Among all digital ways of communicating, texting is the preferred choice for Generation Z employees. However, remember that this group of people is used to quick and concise content. Also, most of the information they consume is written in an informal tone. 

Consequently, opt for short messages that get straight to the point. Forget about the standards of the classic professional language. And feel free to use emojis, your text will be more friendly, visual, and catchy!

Visual communication for Zoomers

Generation Z is also famously called the “Tik Tok generation”. Being digital natives and growing up with social media platforms such as TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat (among others) has created a very visual generation.

Although they prefer texting over calling, they are not attracted by a huge block of text. Therefore your visual communication should focus on images or videos instead of long content to read. You can still integrate some text in this content, which is even recommended, but opt for punchy key phrases rather than endless sentences.

In-person communication for Gen Zers

Growing up in a heavily digital world has created a need for human and in-person interactions among this demographic group. Therefore, even though texting is Gen Z’s favorite way to communicate digitally, in-person and face-to-face interactions are their number one communication style.

They would opt for a one-to-one meeting in the office over an online meeting whenever possible. But, although respect matters a lot for this generation, this doesn’t necessarily imply the use of formal and professional language. They expect to have a verbal conversation based on mutual respect and be treated as an equal.

📆 Start a free trial of the deskbird app to give your employees more flexibility with workspace booking and week planning while saving costs!

two girls looking at phone
Gen Z girls texting

Gen Zers communication expectations: what do they look for?

Equality and inclusion

DEI in the workplace (diversity, equity, and inclusion) matters a lot to this generation. In the U.S., Gen Z is the most diverse group ever seen. Despite their young age, they have already witnessed many social injustices. The easy access to information through online media also exposes them more to the reality of what is happening worldwide, making them more aware of the current state of our society.

For those reasons, Gen Zers are socially active, have strong beliefs, and are committed to their values. They expect to see fair and inclusive practices in their work environment, including how information is communicated. For them, respect is a two-way street, and age doesn’t matter.

Transparency

Since they have come of age in the digital world, generation Z employees have been exposed to plenty of fake information. This has resulted in a media-savvy generation that highly values authenticity and transparency. At work, they expect genuine relationships with their colleagues and full transparency from their supervisors as well as the company.

Team leaders must opt for an honest and open communication strategy to gain their trust. There is no time to beat around the bush. When you interact with Gen Z, get straight to the point in a respectful and friendly manner, and you will garner their attention (and respect). 

Constant feedback

Another impact of growing up with social media is the need for regular feedback. They are used to getting instant opinions when interacting with their online community, even when not asking for it. Whatever they do or say online triggers reactions and comments.

When they enter the professional world, not receiving feedback from their managers can completely destabilize them. It doesn’t mean you need to be on their back constantly. They actually value autonomy as well. But don’t be surprised if they request your opinion about their job and how to improve more often than team members from other generations.

💡 Check out our customers’ reviews to discover what our users think about the deskbird app!

Personal communication

The last major point we want to highlight about Gen Z’s communication style is the importance of making it personal and, in some ways, human. 

To catch their attention, you must show them you are talking to them, not anybody else. Face-to-face interactions help you do so but also think about bringing this personal touch when texting them. 

Teenagers holding signs
Gen Z is vocal about social causes

Generation Z communication preferences: what are the best tools to connect with Gen Z in the workplace?

Instant messaging tools

For a generation that values texting over calling and appreciates instant and friendly interactions, instant messaging platforms are the best communication tools. Solutions like Slack, WhatsApp, and chat features integrated into other platforms, such as MS Teams, are ideal for adapting to the Gen Z communication style. Accessible from desktops and mobile phones, they are ultra-practical and enable them to share information and documents in record time. 

Videoconferencing platforms

When your team is working remotely, videoconferencing is a great alternative to maintain a team spirit and foster human interactions. FaceTime, Zoom, Loom, Google Meet, MS Teams… The number of options when it comes to online meeting tools is plenty.

To boost engagement and improve the experience during virtual meetings, switching on cameras is nice if your coworkers don’t mind. But don’t force them as some people find it intrusive to video call from their home or don’t feel comfortable with it. You can also start with a digital team activity to enhance team bonding and break the ice!

👉 Need ideas for which activity you could do with your team online? Check our article about 15 fun team bonding ideas, five of which can be done remotely!

Mobile-friendly solutions

Millennials and previous generations experienced a time when mobile phones were only a means of verbal or written communication (limited to a few characters per text). But Generation Z has only lived with “smart” phones. This makes a huge difference in their behavior toward technology as they expect to do everything from their iPhone or Android, from ordering food to calling their family and reading the news.

It is important to consider this aspect when choosing the best remote communication tools for your staff. These solutions must be mobile friendly if you have some Gen Z employees on your team. Indeed, it is very likely that they connect to Slack or Zoom via their smartphones.

Visual, concise, individualized, or in-person, and transparent, the Gen Z communication style differs from previous generations. Organizations must understand Generation’s communication preferences to grasp their short attention span and collaborate efficiently.

More than ever, adopting an inclusive and fair communication strategy and being straightforward and people-focused are key to making this generation thrive in the workplace. Obviously, modern technology plays an essential role in answering the needs of this demographic group. They expect to integrate technology with their work as they do in their private lives.

Request a free demo of the deskbird app to discover why our hybrid space management tool helps you meet your workforce’s expectations regarding employee centricity and work flexibility!

Sources: 

1 How to Communicate with Gen Z, Campus Rec Mag.

Paulyne

Paulyne is a hybrid work specialist, who writes about sustainability, flexible work models and employee experience.

Gen Z communication style: how to grasp the generation with the briefest attention span