What You Didn’t Know about Generation Z Work Habits

Today’s post comes to us from board member Dan Schawbel. In it, he discusses our recent research on Generation Z.

When I speak to companies, they are no longer interested in Millennials (those born between 1981-1995); all they want to hear about is Generation Z (those born between 1995 and 2010)!

Companies are more interested in Gen Z because the Millennial conversation has been played to death, which is partially my fault (I did found a company called Millennial Branding, among other things), but also because Millennials are already the majority of the workforce globally. Since there are more Gen Z’s entering the workforce, companies want to understand how to meet their needs and support them. My company, Future Workplace, recently worked with The Workforce Institute on a global study of over 3,000 Gen Z’s and discovered new details about how they view themselves and the type of work culture they are interested in.

We asked Gen Z’s, from high schoolers to entry-level employees, how they describe themselves. They said, the “digital generation”, which makes sense since 98 percent own a smartphone and spend over four hours daily using it. They are the first generation to be born digital, meaning that they were born into the technology revolution that has changed society forever. When I was born, there weren’t cellphones and I’m only 35 years old. It’s hard to imagine how much digital usage at such an early age can impact your entire life. They look at landline phones as fossils! What’s interesting about our research is that even though they describe themselves as the digital generation, three out of every four of them prefer face-to-face interaction at work. The reason for this is because Gen Z, like all other generations, has an innate need to form relationships with others. Without this human connection, that we can only get in-person, employees feel more lonely, isolated and less engaged with their teammates.

Gen Z believes that they are the hardest working generation, and I bet if other generations were asked, they would think differently. What I’ve found in our previous research is that every generation views the younger generations as being lazy. While Gen Z believes they work the hardest, we found that they demand schedule flexibility to deliver their best work. Companies that want to motivate Gen Z will have to give them flexibility over when, where and how they work. They will work harder and longer if they are in a culture that supports a flexible schedule.

Aside from flexibility, there’s a growing need for companies to support Gen Z’s mental health. While they are optimistic about the future, anxiety is the biggest thing holding them back from achieving success at work and in life. While the stigma of mental health still exists at work, more companies are bringing psychiatrists in house to help employees. Smart companies will help Gen Z solve their basic human needs in order for them to realize their full potential at work.

For more on the survey, check out my colleague Joyce Maroney’s post Meet Gen Z – Optimistic and Anxious.

And let us know what you think of the findings in the comments section!

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