Gen Z: A to Z New Style of Working
March 21, 2023
“Each generation has something different at which they are all looking.”
~ Gertrude Stein
It is 2023.
The above words are not Greek to people across generations.
But yes, these things resonate most with Generation Z (fondly addressed as Gen Z).
Gen Z has finally arrived. The youngest generation of workforce i.e., Gen Z is already emerging as a significant cohort for industries globally. The World Economic Forum reports that Gen Z is expected to make up 27% of the workforce worldwide by 2025. As Gen Z joins the workforce, employers need to acknowledge and accept the truth — every generation is different from the previous ones. Gen Z will feel more a part of a business and its culture if their behavior and expectations are taken into consideration.
Being digital natives, practical, risk-taking, technologically dexterous are few qualities that Gen Z swears by. It is all good news for the industries worldwide. However, like anything else, there are two sides to every story — likewise, Gen Z is also skilled in the fundamental, industry-relevant abilities like technology but may not be able to exhibit similar aptitude with other abilities like communication. Since nobody can be perfect at everything, let alone a generation, it is both normal and completely human.
Gen Z: Sailing through the uncharted waters of pandemic
The year was 2020. Gen Z or the ones born post 1996 were barely a year or two old in their professional lives as the global pandemic hit the world and people were asked to stay at home until further notice. With ‘virtual office’ and ‘remote education’ replacing the physical workplace and educational institutions, GenZ, like any other generation, also went with the flow and adapted to a virtual workspace and remote education. Gen Z’s formative years, however, during which they may have formed an office community and acquired lasting people skills, were also lost to the pandemic.
Let us examine the below factors in the light of above situation:
- Covid-19 & remote education: As the pandemic loomed over the world, Gen Z accepted remote learning as their fate and used their technical prowess for remote learning. However, this distanced themselves from concepts they learnt at school such as communication, rapport building, and networking.
- The zoomers: Fondly called the Zoomers, GenZ was the first generation that could easily access technology and Internet at an incredibly early age. GenZ started relying on their smartphones for communication, information consumption, entertainment, exercise, and even relaxation due to their constant attachment to such gadgets. Therefore, Gen Z uses Smartphones as a primary mode of communication even in circumstances where face-to-face interaction is more appropriate. This affected their listening, interjection, conflict resolution, and problem-solving abilities.
- Lack of exposure to a workplace setup: By the beginning of 2020, when majority of the Gen Zers were starting their professions, Covid-19 seized the globe. Consequently, working from home became fashionable and continues post-pandemic. While Gen Z has exceptional technical abilities, they have not been exposed to a conventional office environment. Therefore, they have missed informal learning opportunities such as teammates bonding over a cup of coffee or lunch-time sessions.
Do what works best: Skill development
Even in a post-pandemic world, people across generations find themselves in a confusing situation — change and disruption are the new watchwords. Majority of us have started going back to our workplaces happily. However, the million-dollar question that bothers each one of us individually is: Will we be able to build ‘meaningful’ connections with our co-workers and teammates like before? Everyone in the workforce is bothered, regardless of generation. Gen Z, who had just started their working careers during or shortly before the pandemic, is therefore not an exception. However, Gen Z is not only willing to take the initiative; they are also ready to step out of their comfort zones to develop the “people-to-people” connection. Therefore, Gen Z has ample scope to build on their people skills.
Being the proud, self-learners who lead the ‘digital first’ society of today by example, Gen Z has also carved its own path leaving behind a non-conventional, work-life experience. Training can always be the ‘guiding light’ to help Gen Z come out of their shell and show their true self to the world.
Below are a few tips that organizations can follow to help Gen Z put their best foot forward at the workplace:
- Just do it: Being practical, Gen Z is always open to experiential learning. So, why not connect them to the real world? Offer them an opportunity to evaluate, experiment, reflect, and analyze. Choose a training format that engages them. Ditch the conventional long-form trainings. Substitute them with interesting exercises like skill marathons, simulations, hackathons, and challenges.
- Leverage technology: A training program for Gen Z professionals is like targeted marketing — so, hunt your target in its natural habitat, the online world. Gen Z desires to connect with their coworkers and learn in an online world. Help Gen Z build upon their soft skills by using tools like WhatsApp, social networking sites, and gamified applications.
- Link training with career progression: While Gen Z is adept at acquiring technical skills which they can also self-learn through online resources, limited or no offline interaction takes away the opportunity of honing soft skills. In addition, Gen Z is more eager to learn skills that will be instantly useful on the job and that will accelerate career advancement. Therefore, providing them with the best of both the worlds through interactive programs that develop interpersonal and technical skills simultaneously will help them upskill effectively.
Connecting the dots
The number of Gen Z employees shall keep increasing with time. Therefore, upskilling them during the initial stages of their career will contribute to the overall inclusiveness and diversity of the workplace. Investment in education and training, development of mentorship programs, flexible work models and utilizing technology can help employers ensure that Gen Z is prepared for future workplace challenges. The same goes for educational institutions and universities, which can assist Gen Zers in converting their academic knowledge into employment abilities