Generation Z comes right after the Millenials (also called Gen Y), and is defined as being born between 1995 and 2010. This is a generation that grew up watching Youtube instead of LooneyTunes, some of them turning this pastime into a career and earning millions by playing video games, showcasing their morning routines, their diets, their travels plans, even their birthday presents on social media. This is a generation that breathes inclusivity, creativity, individual freedom, sustainability. It seeks purpose in what they do and they are bringing all of that to a corporate world, that is slowly trying to adjust. All these disruptions were long needed and are a big breakthrough in the corporate world. However, as with everything in life, these changes too have a negative to them. Though we believe that the way youth is shaping business is revolutionary, we also believe that some corrections to their ways need to be put in place, for their own benefit and also for the benefit of business productivity. Here we will discuss these negative effects of the Gen Z disruption and ways that companies can efficiently mentor these wildlings to achieve the greatness they strive for.
Hierarchy no more
Today’s youth loves drawing circles, instead of pyramids. Teamwork is the way to go for the young. Everyone is given a chance to shape the working space, instead of just taking orders from one person, which is very important for the overall productivity and output. But so is a leader. Productive spaces need someone to lead the conversation, to invite the quiet ones to speak, to empower great ideas and to bench the bad ones. Especially among youth, some need encouragement and authority to stay committed. But most importantly, a group of opinionated strong personalities needs one that would have the final say in a disagreement. Leaders are not there to bark orders, but are needed to lead the space and everyone in it to reach a brilliant outcome.
Purpose and meaning are the driving force of the young. Gen Z are the ones to take their time searching for themselves. Many of them will switch their study programs multiple times, until they find something they identify with. Or they’ll spend a year travelling and discovering their identity in the mirror of other cultures. Personal development is highly important for professional success and we should be thankful our society has evolved as much to produce such conscious individuals.
But at the same time – changing directions too many times can leave you with absolutely nowhere to go. Some may change their purpose so many times, that a lot of time has passed and they have no sense of accomplishment or actual skills. To become good at something, you must devote time to it. And let’s get real for a moment – neither the young or the companies can sustain themselves on inspiration, good intentions and purpose seeking. At the same time, spending 40 hours a week doing a job you hate is also a bad idea, again for both parties. But the best option is to start, be curious and constantly work on yourself, develop your skills. At some point, you will discover what you like and will be able to focus on it completely. And someone needs to offer this to the young working force.
Gen Z are proud of the culture they have initiated and they will look for it when looking for a job. Flexibility, creativity, openness, good leadership, respect of individual rights and a job with purpose is what they strive for. If they see you aren’t trying to be open to change, they will go in search of a company that is. Gen Z can switch companies too often, constantly looking for that perfect fit, that currently still doesn’t exist. Sometimes you must stick to something long enough, to get a chance to shape it the way you want it to be. Sometimes, working long hours and earning respect of your superiors has to come before you get to do whatever you want. But this commitment is hard for Gen Z, who are always on the lookout for something better and more interesting.
What corporate can do to mitigate the negatives:
Let us be perfectly clear: flexibility, inclusivity, mutual respect and sustainable actions that Gen Z is demanding from the corporate world are what the world of business needs, in order for us to create a sustainable future for all. But, as with everything in life, this too needs balance. To mitigate some negative aspects of the young work culture, companies have to take initiative and be proactive.
Offer mentorship – young people resonate best with honest stories of success. Get your executives to talk about their personal struggles on their career paths, their motivations and reasons. Let the experience be the teacher.
Offer further education – allow young people to search for their purpose within your company. Let them explore graphic design, business analytics, marketing, strategy, all under your current experts. You will offer them the journey of looking for themselves, while at the same time educating skilled workers that may just remain faithful and indispensable employees.
Create a truly modern work environment– don’t create a modern culture just to attract the young workers, but understand it yourself and realize the benefits of it – the way that young people think is beneficial for business in the long run and also for the simple rush of a Monday. Be open to being wrong and try to understand the benefits that a flexible and inclusive culture might bring your firm. Try to create an actual productive culture, and don’t just put out flashy job adds that are far from reality.
Be careful with who you pick as your executive – to be a team leader, you don’t require extreme knowledge in the branch, but you absolutely require people skills – to be able to take a back seat and allow your team to contribute to the work is what a leader is for. Self-centered and numbers-centered executives can be harmful for your overall productivity when it comes to working with Gen Z. Being able to recognize someone’s potential pass their missed deadlines and offer them an environment to learn and grow is what characterizes a great leader. Be sure you have one of those in your ranks.
Written by Marijana Nikolic