Each generation of workers brings challenges, preferences, and opportunities for management teams to shape the workplace.
Generation Z is the latest and youngest entry to the workforce. They have much to bring when redefining the workplace and improving employee welfare.
Managers can easily criticize Gen Z work ethic according to the stereotypes brought along by impressions from other generations. However, understanding their culture and characteristics is essential to making a better work environment for everyone.
Learn about the Gen Z work ethic and how to deal with them through this article.
Gen Z’s work ethics and values
Gen Zs are the generation of workers born between 1997 and 2000s. Dubbed the “digital generation,” they grew up during the 2008 recession and the rise of the digital economy.
Gen Zs comprise 30% of the global population and are projected to account for at least 27% of the global workforce by 2025.
Studies suggest the following characteristics of a Gen Z work ethic:
- Hardworking. 32% of Gen Zs agree they are the “hardest working” generation — with the right environment.
- Prefers in-person communication. Despite being born in the age of smartphones and the internet, most Gen Zs still prefer in-person communication and collaboration.
- Individual workers. Gen Z workers don’t mind team environments, but many choose to work on projects individually.
- Flexible. Gen Zs love flexibility at work. In fact, they work harder for companies that provide flexible schedules for their employees.
- Prefers professional development. According to a 2019 survey, Gen Z employees feel high school and college did not prepare them enough for work. With this, they would value professional development on their part.
- Values respect and recognition. Most importantly, Gen Zs value respect and recognition at work. They prefer working in a company that values inclusivity, diversity, and respect at all times.
Millennial vs. Gen Z work ethic
The Gen Z work ethic is usually compared to millennials’ work ethics, with Gen X and boomers often confusing the two.
It is said that millennials and Gen Zs have similar preferences at work: flexibility, work-life balance, and advancement. However, the latter is more aggressive in attaining their desires.
One of the unique factors of the Gen Z work ethic is their assertiveness. They are more likely to demand better salaries and career advancement while millennials advocate for them.
Meanwhile, millennial workers prioritize job security with the lessons from the 2008 recession.
Gen Z workers are also more competitive than their predecessors. While millennials strive to connect with their peers in the workplace, Gen Zs focus on individual success and control of their end product.
Breaking the myths of Gen Z work ethic
Contrary to what most people believe, Gen Z workers are not against traditional jobs. As mentioned, younger generations of workers only want their employers to listen to their priorities and deliver their expectations.
More horror stories surround the myth of Gen Z work ethic, making employers reluctant to hire younger workers. It’s time to break the following myths and get to know the generation more.
“Gen Zs are lazy and unproductive”
Gen Zs are falsely known for being “lazy and unproductive” at work. Several studies and experiences disprove this.
Their generation brings a lot to the table, including creativity and innovation. However, seeing how their parents struggled to work during the recession, this generation wants to end some unfair practices their predecessors were forced to accept.
“Gen Zs lack loyalty at work”
Gen Zs are known for their job-hopping tendencies and “lack of loyalty.” Indeed, younger workers tend to change careers — almost the same way as older generations do.
A report from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) finds that an average American worker’s median length of tenure from 1983 to 2022 remains at about five years.
Besides, Gen Z workers look more into employers that will help them advance in their careers.
“Gen Zs only want freelance work”
A study from Joblist finds surprising results about remote work and Gen Zs. According to the study, around 49% of millennials want a fully remote job, while only 27% of Gen Zs prefer them.
The pandemic has largely affected this result; most have not had an in-person internship and have never stepped into an actual workplace yet. With this, they are eager to know what working in an office environment is like.
Another reason for choosing in-person work deals with access to health. Freelance work lacks the benefits that full-time employees get, especially in healthcare.
“Gen Zs have an eight-second attention span”
Recent studies have debunked the myth of the younger workers’ attention span. They can spend more than six hours consuming both long-form and short-form content. This can give you an insight into how you can train and develop them at work.
Benefits and challenges of Gen Z’s work ethic
Gen Z’s work ethic can be a game-changer and a struggle for employers.
The following are the benefits employers get from working with them:
Benefit 1: Improvements in employee management
Gen Z workers offer a good outlook on improving employee management policies.
For instance, they can suggest adding wellness programs to their health benefits if their employers don’t have them.
Benefit 2: Promoting diversity
Gen Zs look for a workplace promoting diversity, inclusion, and social justice. This is why it is a good way for employers to look at promoting diversity and inclusion more in the workplace.
Benefit 3: Expanding training opportunities
Having Gen Z workers can also encourage employers to expand training and upskilling opportunities for their employees.
Here are the challenges businesses may face regarding Gen Z’s work ethic:
Challenge 1: High expectations at work
Gen Z workers tend to become too idealistic and have high workplace expectations.
It might be difficult for many employers to attain these expectations, which could lead to turnovers and low retention rates.
Challenge 2: Additional effort in motivating
Many employers find the young workforce “difficult” to deal with.
With many of them reporting high rates of mental health struggle in a 2022 survey, employers must make extra efforts to motivate and increase their productivity.
Challenge 3: Burnout tendencies
Stress, anger, and burnout are higher in the younger workforce, particularly in Gen Zs. Employers must find a way to minimize them and engage their employees more, especially in a remote or hybrid setting.
How to deal with Gen Zs in the workplace
Gen Z employees can be manageable to handle once employers know and adapt to their characteristics. Here are some ways to deal with them in the workplace:
- Lead by example. Gen Zs don’t like to be bossed around and just told what to do. Instead, lead by example by embodying the company vision and giving feedback.
- Cultivate individual communication. Form individual connections with them along with the usual team communication. Provide feedback for their work as much as possible to motivate them further.
- Get to know what they need. Reaching out to them involves getting to know their needs to improve their welfare.
- Encourage training and development. Having a Gen Z workforce is a perfect time to encourage training and development in the workplace. Employers must look at their training programs and see what can be improved in each of them.