Employers Need To Train Gen Z On Soft Skills

Employers Need To Train Gen Z On Soft Skills
Summary: Although they’re quick to claim they’re the hardest-working generation, Gen Z knows they lack the soft skills needed to thrive. Rather than overlook Gen Z applicants or punish them for missing specific competencies, employers should implement soft skills training to bring them up to speed.

Setting Gen Z (And Yourself) Up For Success

It’s impossible to turn on the news or log into social media without hearing about Gen Z. Usually, it’s a mix of resounding applause for the younger generation and endless complaints about them. Many agree Gen Z is full of passionate trendsetters driving societal changes that are long overdue; others say they’re a headache. Regardless of opinion, Gen Z is entering the workforce at full throttle.

Who Is Generation Z?

Gen Z individuals were born after 1996, having gained the eligibility to vote for the first time in the past election. This generation is also one of the most racially diverse, with 48% reporting non-white ethnicities, such as Hispanic, African American, and Asian. Experts predict that Gen Z will soon surpass millennials as the most populous generation—a phenomenon that will forever change how people live and work [1]. Although every generation has faced economic and social challenges, Gen Z has proven themselves resilient amid COVID-19 and racial, environmental, and political injustices—circumstances that have powerfully shaped their views of career and professionalism.

Additionally, Gen Z grew up in the digital age: the first generation to only know a world with the internet. However, despite the infinite connectivity, few members of Gen Z have the communication and interpersonal skills deemed necessary for successful careers. Much of this is due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced Gen Z students to move their studies online, hindering their abilities to foster formal and informal in-person interactions. According to the Workforce Institute, 34% of Gen Z Americans blame educational barriers for their lack of skills-based knowledge in the professional world [2].

The pandemic also marked significant socioeconomic disparities, from race to gender. Women of color in low-income households were especially vulnerable to coronavirus-related economic impacts, expected to show up for jobs deemed "essential" [3]. For Gen Z women, it was an additional obstacle to overcome.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports Gen Z comprises 12.8% of the workforce, which is bound to increase over time [4]. For this reason, employers would be remiss to bypass soft skills training for top talent.

Gen Z Soft Skills Training: 5 Topics

Gen Z has demonstrated that authenticity, empathy, inclusiveness, and flexibility are essential in the workplace. Yet, they also feel cheated out of gaining other crucial soft skills, leaving them unprepared for various occupations. Here are five soft skills employers need to train Gen Z on immediately.

1. Communication

Remote school and work have made it increasingly difficult for Gen Z to develop proper communication skills. However, it’s not because they don’t want to. In fact, 60% of Gen Z workers appreciate constructive feedback to improve their performance [5]. Therein lies an opportunity for employers to provide extensive soft skills training for Gen Z talent, to learn how to communicate better, whether verbally or written.

2. Networking

Likewise, being well-connected on social media doesn’t compare to networking in the workplace. Many people in Gen Z have found LinkedIn challenging to navigate, particularly when it comes to gaining exposure to potential employers. Much of this generation also reached their first job search at the height of the pandemic, when employment opportunities were at an all-time low, meaning they had little chance to practice outreach to prospective leaders and companies.

3. Negotiating

Gen Z has several expectations for their careers: flexibility, work-life balance, and salary. In fact, they’ve shown more interest in financial incentives, with higher salary expectations than what’s typically given at the career entry level. This has put recruiters in an awkward position, but how do you negotiate with talent that doesn’t know how to reciprocate? Negotiation skills are critical in business, particularly in sales. Since many label Gen Z as a bunch of go-getters, teaching them soft negotiation skills can benefit your business substantially.

4. Public Speaking

Employers and employees have embraced remote work, which shows little signs of disappearing in the future. Although remote work has its advantages, it isn’t conducive for Gen Z to practice speaking in front of an audience. Standing in front of a group and presenting information clearly and engagingly is critical for business success. Gen Z has excellent potential to do this effectively, if they learn the necessary public speaking skills.

5. Conflict Resolution

Studies have shown miscommunication is the leading cause of conflict, while one in four people feel company leadership doesn’t handle workplace conflicts well. Additionally, employees feel less job satisfaction the longer they deal with friction at work. Generation Z could benefit from understanding conflict resolution. For starters, it would relieve managers of having to step in constantly. It would also create a more amicable and collaborative workforce that produces results.

Train Gen Z Talent In Soft Skills For Business Success

Gen Z has a lot to offer the workforce if given a chance to improve their soft skills. As one of the most determined, steadfast generations, employers won’t want to miss out on bringing Gen Z talent into their teams.


[1] Build the Future Today: Top Strategies to Best Support Your Remote Workforce

[2] Meet Gen Z: The next generation is here: Hopeful, anxious, hardworking, and searching for inspiration

[3] Here’s How the Women’s Workforce Has Been Set Back Due to COVID

[4] Civilian labor force by age, sex, race, and ethnicity