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Gone are the days where ‘trust’ is assumed because the organisation has been well established for years. Gone are the days where ‘trust’ is given to the leader because they have the title or wear the badge ‘CEO’ or ‘boss’. Gone are the days where people will be invisible and work tirelessly at the bottom rung of the ladder, with very limited feedback, support and job interest, simply in hope that one day they may be noticed and be able to climb up to the next rung.

But let’s just take a moment to consider why emerging generations may be approaching work and trust from a different angle.

Generation Z (born 1995-2009) have grown up in a rapidly changing, technologically immersed world. A world where they don’t see geographic boundaries defining community or connection. A world of flatter structures – where they can connect with world leaders, celebrities, brands and friends through social networking platforms. A world where barriers to entry have been broken down – previously to have a job opportunity, one needed to do entry level work in an organisation – whereas today people are more empowered to market directly to their ‘followers’, embrace the gig economy and connect their skill sets with market needs (from Uber driving through to online freelance platforms)

They have been saturated with limitless options for personalised learning and entertainment – and as a result, will only give their attention to programs, people and portals that are engaging (and often entertaining), where they see the point in investing into – and where it is fun and rewarding to do so. They have become sensory engagers, expecting constant stimulation, and opportunities to be not only the consumers but also collaborators and co-creators of content. This has created an environment where they have a voice from a very young age, where they shape the narrative, and where they value a digital, virtual world as much as an offline, physical world. Amidst such rapid change, Gen Z have seen the rise of disruptive organisations and platforms, and the decline of those who have not kept pace with the change. As a result, they fear irrelevance – they place a high value on change and being in a context which is innovative and entrepreneurial so that they are not left behind. Added to all this, they have not only been exposed to unprecedented news updates about global events and are acutely aware of the broken state of the world – but they have been told they can change the world for good – and are deeply motivated to make a difference. They want their life and the investment into their careers to actually change the world.

And then we bring them into a work environment which has a well-defined hierarchical structure (and yes, where they as the new workers are far removed from the boss, from leadership, and from having a context to contribute ideas or bring in change). We give them the job descriptions that go with the entry level roles – often tedious, repetitive, and seemingly meaningless work. And Generation Z don’t stick around. This can immediately cause frustration and intergenerational tension for older generations who did work hard in this traditional way, who did the ‘boring’ jobs for years to earn their stripes, and who believe this should be the same path for emerging generations.

3 Keys to Build Trust and Engagement:

  1. Be genuine, authentic and relatable.
    Gen Z are looking for leaders who are real, authentic, relational and genuine. They are quickly disenchanted by leaders they perceive to be fake, superior, or out-of-reach. They crave an authentic connection with their leaders, rather than a distant, removed authority figure who takes no interest in them and does not ‘speak their language’. Lucy (b. 1996) stated: “What works is when people are relatable and genuine. I think it’s easy to sort of spot people who aren’t being genuine – I think we can pick that up quite easily and it doesn’t leave a good taste in your mouth.”
  2. Shape a contributing culture
    With Gen Z having a voice from the youngest of age, contributing to blogs, social media sites, shaping the global encyclopaedia Wikipedia through their own entries and edits, when they enter the workforce it is only natural to them to expect to contribute ideas and continue to shape processes. From team meetings where ideas and questions are encouraged from anyone and everyone (regardless of age or tenure), to innovation hackathons (encouraging people within the organisation to come up with innovative ideas and presenting them), to online platforms which capture the ideas of all team members – try to shift the culture from an expectation that the leaders need to come up with all the ideas to one where the best innovations and results can be discovered as the strengths and talents of the team intersect and are fostered together to create a greater outcome than what would be possible on their own.
  3. Cast a compelling vision
    Gen Z will be attracted to organisations where they are impelled by a vision, and motivated to do their day to day work in a way that is connected to a greater sense of purpose and mission. Casting a vision of purpose will resonate with a deeply felt need in many Gen Zs who want to make a difference and while contributing want to be challenged and developed.

A massive thank you to you both for all your assistance from selecting to co-ordinating the speakers for our annual ProLoan conference. Feedback was that this year’s speakers where the best they had EVER heard at ANY event. So this is pretty amazing, because they do go to a lot of sessions like these.

Director of Network Relationships - Proloan (aust) pty ltd

Again this year you and your team have been fantastic and extremely helpful.  In regards to you Sharm, you have been an absolute star and phenomenal help with our speakers and presenters, a great communicator, wealth of knowledge and so prompt with responding and looking at ways to cater to our needs.

Event Manager Fitness Australia

I would recommend, without hesitation, the services of Jane Rowland Smith and Ovations. Jane answered a last minute call to arrange a guest speaker for our principals. Nothing was too much effort, all was arranged within hours, and went very smoothly. The guest speaker was exactly what we required and our brief was followed. Thank you Jane and the team at Ovations.

Executive Director of Schools Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta

All aspects of the process has always gone seamlessly with Ovations and we will continue to seek your assistance for the awards in the coming years.

Thank you again, your help has meant that our Awards are very professional and extremely well received by our members and guests.

Executive Assistant BSCAA NSW Division

Jane, I personally want to thank you for all of your support, advice, patience and all round kindness that you have given me over the last 3 or so years.  This event would not have been as successful without the valuable MC’s you have recommended and the support you provided me when it all just seemed too hard

Shona Dilley – Smart School Awards, Department of Education
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