Gen Z is coming to your workplace. Feel old yet?


Apparently, Millennials, you’ve had your day in the sun. It goes quickly, does it not?

Generation Z is just entering the work force, so prepare for an onslaught of content whose subtext is your diminishing relevance. And they say irony is dead!

Inc., for example, is all over the Gen Z beat. Contributor Ryan Jenkins says the “high-tech and hyper-connected upbringing” of Gen Z workers — those people born from the mid 1990s to the mid 2000s — will change the workplace in several ways. Among them:

More than 90 percent of Generation Z prefer to have a human element to their teams, either working solely with innovative co-workers or with co-workers and new technologies.

Even though Generation Z is the first fully digital generation, they want human elements at work. In fact, 72 percent of Generation Z want to communicate face-to-face at work. And the top two most important factors for Generation Z at work are “supportive leadership” and “positive relationships at work.”

This is interesting because there’s a school of thought that technology is creating a disconnect between organizations and employees. Is the Gen Z preference for a human element at work some kind of correcting mechanism?

Alas, Jenkins has bad news for you uncommunicative bosses: “Two-thirds of Generation Z (versus less than half of Millennials) say they need feedback from their supervisor at least every few weeks in order to stay at their job,” he writes. So when it comes to Gen Z workers, it’s probably best not to leave guidance and feedback to your robot assistant. Gen Z wants the real thing, and they want it frequently!

But that close guidance and incessant feedback may be as necessary as it’s desired. “Generation Z is entering the workforce with less job experience than previous generations,” according to the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. “Only 19% of 15- to 17-year-olds in 2018 reported working during the previous calendar year, compared with 30% of millennials in the same age group in 2002. In 1968, nearly half of baby boomers (48%) reported working in the previous year when they were between 15 and 17 years old.”

Hmm. I suspect transition and integration challenges ahead. My advice to Millennials and older workers: Be patient and supportive of Gen Z. Focus on the positive and help younger workers connect what they do to the organization’s strategic goals. Encourage and assist career planning (which gives you a chance to identify and develop in-house talent for emerging needs). For Gen Z readers: Be prepared to have your work ethic criticized. It’s a generational tradition.

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