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5 characteristics of Generation Z in the workplace

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The modern workplace is undergoing a major change since the arrival of Generation Z. Generation Z, born between 1995 and 2012, grew up in a world where the Internet and smartphones are part of everyday life. As this group of people enters the job market, companies face the challenge of adapting to Gen Z's specific characteristics and preferences. In this article, you'll read about who Generation Z is and the 5 things that characterize them in the workplace.  

Who is Generation Z?  

Generation Z, born between 1995 and 2012, is shaped by the digital age. Unlike their predecessors, they cannot imagine a world without the Internet and smartphones. With a practical and do-it-yourself mentality, they bring a realistic and action-oriented perspective to the world and thus the workplace. Enthusiastic, energetic and familiar with technology. With their knowledge and outlook on technology and life, they have different expectations of a workplace.

Their younger years, marked by economic uncertainties and technological advances, have shaped them into a generation that values personal connections, seeks meaningful work and values a healthy work-life balance.  

Why is Generation Z different (in the workplace)?  

Generation Z differs from previous generations in several ways. First, this generation grew up surrounded by the Internet, smartphones and technology. This is different from previous generations who slowly became accustomed to technology. As a result, they are handy with tech and expect fast communication and instant access to information.  

Furthermore, Generation Z is distinguished by a practical and realistic outlook on life, which is different from the idealistic attitude of millennials. Generation Z is more down-to-earth because they grew up in uncertain economic times and a tough job market for their parents. As a result, they are more resilient and proactive than previous generations. They go for what they want and are willing to take a setback.   

Characteristics of Generation Z at a glance  

That Generation Z differs from previous generations is clear. But what makes them so unique? What things can employers take into account? Let's list all the characteristics of Generation Z:   

1. Technological proficiency

Generation Z equals technological proficiency. Being immersed in a digital world from a young age, these individuals are more comfortable and proficient with technology than previous generations. This skill extends beyond social media to include a wide range of digital tools and platforms.  

2. Desire for human interaction

Despite their digital skills, Generation Z values human interaction. Amazingly, this is offset by this generation's desire for a human element in their daily lives. This desire refutes the idea that younger generations only value digital communication and emphasizes the importance of an environment where technology is balanced with personal connection.  

3. Work-life balance as a top priority 

For Generation Z, a stable work-life balance is of utmost importance. This generation considers a work-life balance to be their most important factor when choosing an employer. This puts more emphasis on companies prioritizing employee well-being through initiatives such as coaching and developing leadership skills 

Transparency and authenticity

Growing up in an era dominated by news and social media, Generation Z is characterized by a degree of skepticism. Authenticity and transparency are a must for this generation. They strive for open communication and prefer real, unfiltered material to polished presentations and videos. This transparency extends to expectations about their role in society.  

Generation Z in the Workplace  

As Generation Z slowly enters the job market, it is crucial for organizations to understand the dynamics of Generation Z in the workplace. This emerging generation brings its own values, expectations and work styles that are changing the future of professional environments. Adapting to the unique characteristics of Generation Z is not an option, but a necessity. Let's look at strategies that ensure smooth and productive collaboration between Generation Z, older generations and their employers.  

1. Clear expectations

Generation Z performs best when they have a clear picture of their tasks and expectations. However, research shows that only six in 10 are aware of what is expected of them at work.

To bridge this gap, companies will need to focus on work that aligns with their mission, facilitates goal achievement and encourages open communication in the workplace.   

2. Frequent and measurable feedback 

Unlike traditional annual reviews, Generation Z wants regular, measurable feedback. More than half of Generation Z says they need weekly or even daily conversations with their managers. Here, it is important that they hear what is going well and what could be improved. But all in an open and reasoned way. Using technology, such as course apps or communication platforms, can facilitate this feedback.  

3. Attitude toward failure 

For Generation Z, failure is an opportunity for growth and innovation. Creating an environment where making mistakes is allowed, that fosters resilience and encourages learning from setbacks makes this generation perform better.  

4. Technology in the workplace

As a tech-savvy generation, Generation Z expects workplaces to embrace advanced technology. Integrating tools such as productivity software, collaboration platforms and business intelligence applications is essential to meet their expectations. Companies can no longer work with just an email system and an intranet.  

5. Prioritize mental health 

Mental health is a major concern for Generation Z. Much of this generation would quit a job if it were for mental health reasons.

Addressing stress, transgressive behavior and anxiety in the workplace is essential.

Offering flexibility, extra vacation days, employee assistance programs and open dialogue about mental health resources contributes to a healthier work environment. But also the use of coaching for employees, developing leadership skills or power skills.   

What can organizations do?  

Understanding and adapting to the needs of Generation Z is crucial for companies looking to attract and retain employees for years to come. By embracing technology, promoting transparent communication and prioritizing employee well-being, organizations can create a workplace that aligns with the values and expectations of Generation Z. Companies that proactively respond to these changes will position themselves for long-term success in the years to come. Because let's face it, Generation Z will be turning heads in the workplace for some time to come. 

Competence - 15 January 2024
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