Pete Bennett from the UK’s leading language translation and interpretation company, London Translations, identifies how the future workforce will become game-changers in the organisations.
The way you and I communicate is going extinct; well, at least it is if you’re no longer a teenager. Generation Z – those born after 2000 – are coming and they have a completely different language to us.
Brought up with more technology than any previous generation, the way they communicate has grown out of text messaging, email and social media.
Efficiency and fun are the cornerstones of this language, giving us such gems as ‘defs’, ‘jks’, ‘cray cray’ and the classic YOLO (You only live once).
If you’re over 20, chances are you simply won’t understand what they’re talking about.
While that’s ok when Generation Z are safely locked up in a classroom, soon they’ll be in the workplace and the game will change.
The rise of Generation Z
They might be young but Generation Z is one of the most powerful age groups driving popular culture, determining style and increasingly leading the entrepreneurial charge.
This group is:
- Immersed in all things tech – It’s how they communicate, build relationships, learn, shop and entertain themselves.
- Globalised – Not only is it now easier to travel across borders, technology has brought people closer together and it’s not unusual for a Generation Z-er to have friends overseas.
- Aspirational – Whether it’s coveting the celebrity lifestyle or marvelling at the latest blogging sensation, this generation sees what’s possible and wants to achieve it. Making an impact is pivotal and, luckily for them, it’s easier to do than ever before.
An evolving language
Language is always changing. The way you or I speak will be different to the way our parents or grandparent’s conversed. Even in the business world, which has historically taken a more conservative approach to language, you can notice changes. If I’d walked into an office 50 years ago and started yammering on about ‘blue sky thinking’ or ‘reaching out’ they’d think I was mad.
Consequently, it’s no surprise that as a new generation rises to prominence, language is also evolving.
The world needs to embrace this – especially businesses – while showing Generation Z how to make their communications suitable for public consumption. Organisations that fail to keep up will run the risk of their communications being lost in translation.
Picture the scene: You have a new apprentice. They have a range of brilliant skills and you’re excited to see what they can bring to the table. However, when you give them their first task they don’t produce what you expected. You try again and the same situation occurs.
What’s happened is a clash of languages and this is a threat that could become a reality in the near future when there are four generations in a workplace.
When generations don’t understand what the other is saying, the ability to perform is hindered and following even basic instructions can become impossible if Generation Z doesn’t conform to business language – i.e. professional, full words only, lots of explanations, less friendly etc etc.
Tech all the time
Generation Z is addicted to technology. This is a good thing in so far as it allows these youngsters to bring to the table a whole new set of competencies that other generations just don’t possess as standard, from software to social. However, it can also present a problem when it comes to managing Generation Z – especially in terms of communication.
The infiltration of technology into the everyday lives of Generation Z means they may struggle to stay focused on individual tasks without picking up a different device, opening a new tab, launching new software or beginning a different search. This is a generation not known for its attention span.
If you’re trying to teach this group something, give them information or make a request, this can become a problem. Chances are they’ll not read to the end of your email or stay focused on your conversation.
To make messages hit home organisations will need to learn to speak the language of Generation Z. This means making communications efficient and fun.
Top tips to Gen Z-proof your communications
- Buff up on abbreviations and texting language
- Embrace texting, IMing, social etc
- Let Generation Z know early what language is and isn’t appropriate for different scenarios
- Ask questions when you don’t understand and don’t let it drop until you’re clear
- Make sure Generation Z understands what they’re being told to clear up any ambiguity