Shadow Boards Give Gen Z a Seat at the Table

By: James Flippin · April 19, 2023 · Reading Time: 3 minutes

Shadow Advisory Boards

In the face of a tight labor market and a growing culture of job-hopping, companies are looking for new ways to help keep top employees engaged. One new way to do this is by incorporating “shadow advisory boards”— groups of employees that offer direct guidance to senior executives.

These boards are typically composed of younger employees and minorities. Their purpose is to advise the company’s top leadership on things like new initiatives, company policies, and when the company should speak up on social issues.

Getting Feedback

In recent years, employee turnover has become a significant problem for employers. This is especially true for Gen Z workers, who are characteristically vocal about their priorities and standards for the companies that they work for.

Incorporating advisory boards composed of younger employees helps companies get better insight into what these employees — and their consumer peers — value. At the same time, shadow boards give younger workers a voice, allowing their ideas to be heard and keeping them engaged.

Although these board positions are unpaid, they can still drastically improve employee retention. Consulting firm Oliver Wyman (MMC) reported its shadow board contributed to a 30% reduction in attrition last year.

Being Accountable

For many employees, the ability to be recognized by top executives at your company can be a major motivator and a sign that your workplace cares about you. And, from the company’s perspective, these boards help surface ideas from employees that aren’t always given a platform to speak freely.

All in all, shadow boards can lead to more accountability and transparency from the management team. So, no, they’re not as shadowy as they may sound.

Typically, as long as you’ve been with your company for over a year and aren’t an executive, you should be able to apply to sit on your company’s shadow board. And if your company doesn’t have one yet, it might be worth mentioning at your next team meeting. As an employee, your voice continues to become more and more valuable.

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