Debunking myths about Gen Z workers – and how employers can adapt

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According to a recent poll, 74% of executives say Gen Z is the most challenging generation to work with. It seems like there is a new article every week where managers share reasons due to their inability to cooperate with Gen Z, including concerns about their insufficient productivity and output, as well as the perception that younger employees are easily offended or “they like that”. challenge You.”

I can recognize the potential challenges integrating a new generation into the workforce, but as a member of Gen Z, I can confidently say that this story is far from the truth. Gen Z is a very flexible generation. We grew up in a world of constant change and disruption – from experiencing the rise of social media to going to school online for several years. I don’t think the problem is with our generation; it is with outdated management styles.

Here are some common misconceptions about Gen Z in the workplace.

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Myth No. 1: Gen Z lacks discipline.

One of Gen Z’s biggest criticisms is that we lack discipline and a strong work ethic. But many of us grew up in highly competitive environments, where we had to juggle multiple extracurricular activities and academic demands. This has taught us how to effectively manage our time and work efficiently.

In addition, we understand the importance of hard work and are willing to put in the effort to succeed as long as we have structure and guidance to help us. Many of us are highly motivated and focused on achieving our goals, whether that be starting our own business or excelling in our current roles.

In an interview with Gen Z entrepreneur Charu Thomas, the Wall Street Journal notes, “She had just spent much of the night at the office to oversee a Fortune 500 client’s software implementation, she said, then attended a staff meeting at 9 a.m., still in the T-shirt she’d worn the day before. She knows only too well what discipline and a strong work ethic bring to today’s business world.

Myth No. 2: Gen Z workers support age bias.

It is important to note that Gen Z is the most different generation yet. We likely value diversity, equity and inclusion in our personal and professional lives, a survey found 83% of Gen Z candidates find a company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion important. This means we can help expose and overcome systemic biases in the workplace.

Myth No. 3: Generation Z has the right.

Another misconception about Gen Z is that we have the right and demand instant gratification. While it is true that we value work life balance and purpose in our career, it doesn’t mean we expect everything to be handed to us on a silver platter. Many of us are willing to work harder and longer if we feel our work is meaningful and contributes to a greater cause.

This means employers can’t just stick their mission and values ​​on the wall and think that’s enough. These things need to be woven into day-to-day work so that Gen Z knows why they are doing the work that is being asked of them. That’s the key. When Gen Z understands why they’re working on something and what impact it has on the wider business, they can totally empathize.

One of the best examples I’ve seen of this recently is a Slack channel where every time someone saw their colleagues living one of the company’s core values, they would share it. This reinforces the broader purpose of why everyone shows up to work every day and the big vision of what the company is trying to achieve. It also clearly illustrates how individuals contribute to that vision, helping them find purpose in their work.

Myth No. 4: Gen Z is hard to manage.

The aforementioned poll suggests that Gen Z is the most difficult generation to manage. However, I have noticed that many managers fail to adapt to changing work environments. Gen Z grew up in a highly digital and interconnected world, where we are used to constant feedback and collaboration. This means we thrive in environments that are flexible and allow for open communication. Managers who fail to recognize this risk missing out on the valuable contributions Gen Z can make to their organization.

I suggest that managers explain their thought processes behind each task they assign to Gen Z employees. For everyone, but especially for this group, it’s generally effective to provide more context about the work you’re asking someone to do, explain why you’re asking them to do it, and assess the potential impact. to illustrate. Obviously, this level of detail can be scaled back once you’ve determined the optimal balance for your specific employees, but overexplaining is an easy place to start. True collaboration and productivity come from respect, and respect is rooted in open, transparent communication.

How can leaders adapt to changing workplaces?

The answer starts with understanding what Gen Z really values ​​at work: transparent communicationpurposeful work and a growth path within their organization.

Communication and creating meaningful work are intertwined. By being transparent and clarifying the reasons behind their work, leaders can help Gen Z understand the purpose of their work. This openness helps to set clear expectations and hold each other accountable.

This level of openness will also encourage Gen Z to provide the same transparency, which will help you better understand their goals and job expectations. Most employees strive to grow and deliver more value, so giving Gen Z the space to share their aspirations will help you guide them effectively.

However, I’ve found that the key to gaining respect as a manager is to act on what employees share with you. If they desire a specific career path, help them find the right mentor. If they want to learn a new skill, put them in touch with a skilled teacher. If they want to become a leader, provide opportunities to lead in smaller ways.

The bottom line is that Gen Z simply has different expectations and preferences when it comes to the workplace. Instead of blaming this generation for workplace problems, let’s focus on coming up with mutually beneficial solutions. As the future of the workforce, Generation Z has a lot to offer, and it’s up to employers to tap into this potential.


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