Bringing in interns can do wonders for an organisation. They can be developed into a talented pool for future hiring and they can add capacity to the staff and provide mentoring opportunities for new managers. When it comes to hiring Gen-Z, we know this generation has turned out to be far more diverse than the one before them.

Gen-Z have grown up with the latest technology, making them true digital natives who mostly spend their time on smart devices and surfing the internet. Since much of the current incoming workforce is from this generation, understanding the best way to manage them in the workplace becomes critical to organisational success. Hence, People Matters exclusively spoke to industry experts and came up with 10 practical ways to manage Gen-Z interns.

1 Tap into their knowledge base

The physical and digital lives of Gen-Z are incredibly interactive and engaging. They require a collaborative environment that favours teamwork and camaraderie. Fostering cooperation and a sense of community will draw the best from Gen-Z. Jagadish B, Head of Human Resources at Niyo suggested to, “Not waste the opportunity to pick Gen-Z interns’ brains! Not only does this give them opportunities to contribute to projects outside of their domain area, but it also gives you an opportunity to both test and collects ideas with a great sample group.”

2 Induct well

Though interns may be just there with a company for a very short period, HR leaders and managers must share with them as much as possible about an organisation through data and videos. “Share your purpose, values, what you do for employees and the community,” recommended Mr Sanchayan Paul, CHRO, Modenik Lifestyle.

3 Build a cohort

Ms Sulakshana Patankar, who is the Chief People Officer at MarketsandMarkets™, believes that many of the strongest internship programs follow a cohort model, and provide interns with the opportunity to network and connect with one another.

“Creating a community of interns through a cohort, not only helps leaders stay more organised with their program, but also makes organising social activities, feedback sessions, and other events much more efficient. It also distributes the responsibility of ensuring that interns feel welcome and supported during their internship,” said Patankar.

4 Provide clear purpose

Interns want to work for an organisation with a clear purpose and they want to know how the work they do links to the purpose. “A well-planned meaningful induction while welcoming interns and new joiners from Gen-Z can go a long way in ensuring that they get inspired from day one and believe that what they do is important and meaningful,” advised Ms Sonica Aron- Founder and Managing Partner at Marching Sheep.

5 Make the work count

Gen-Z want their work to count. Even if it is a two-month internship, it needs to matter and make a difference to their resume, their long-term employability, their learning, and exposure. “Ensuring that project briefs have enough meat, that the interns get meaningful facetime with relevant stakeholders and leadership, the right guidance and mentorship is key for them to perceive the organisation as an employer of choice,” added Founder and Managing Partner of Marching Sheep.

6 Autonomy in the work

While this generation prefers clear, succinct and transparent communication and instructions, they do not appreciate micromanagement. “Gen-Z prefers empowerment and autonomy in the way they work, their approach to assignments. They want real-time feedback and inputs and appreciate two-way communication,” said Tapan Pandit, who is VP Human Resources at IndiaLends.

7 No my way or highway approach 

Bhupendra Joshi, Head of People Function at Koo, believes that Gen-Z has no regard for authority. Instead, they value leadership. Hence, he advised that organisations must understand that Gen-Z considers themselves professionals and expect professional treatment. They ask for the right environment in return for productivity. “Often organisations don’t realise the importance of providing the right environment to highly driven and passionate individuals for mutual benefit,” said Mr Joshi.

8 Prioritise growth

While internships are great opportunities to gain hands-on experience, most Gen-Z interns are looking for growth. This can take a lot of different forms, such as taking ownership of key projects or participating in professional development workshops. Whatever the case, “be sure to package your program mindfully to demonstrate the holistic growth that an intern can expect from the opportunity and differentiate yourself from other programs,” said Jagadish B, Head of Human Resources at Niyo.

9 Appreciation is critical

Gen-Z have grown in the social revolution era. Since forever they have been exposed to social media channels, which through their various features have led them to look for instant gratification. In a professional environment, this translates to appreciation from peers, managers and leadership. Thus, while the culture of appreciation has remained important forever, it is much more needed for Gen-Z.

10 A regular session on mental health

Gen-Z is a habit of feeling stressed or perturbed easily. Too much of information leads to distress. They feel more inbound with job security, work and money. If these issues aren’t addressed quickly, the anxiety takes a toll on their mental health and affects their productivity. “Mental health sessions help them to encourage to speak about how they feel, think and perceive. Cultivating this type of culture in the workplace will lead to greater productivity,” suggested Mr Gautam Saraf, CHRO at Ferns N Petals.

Other than these tips, organisations must implement various state-of-the-art platforms for different departments. Not only does it boost team productivity, but also give Gen-Zers motivation to excel. Lastly, HR leaders must remember that Gen-Z employees are a huge asset to any company. They don’t just look out for new opportunities, but they can invent even more for others.

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