Gen Z (1997 - 2012), millennials (1981 -1996), Gen X (1965 - 1980), baby boomers (1946 - 1964)
‘The fact that we have to advocate for better work culture is a problem.’ Gen Z says as they take to the streets of social media to express their displeasure with companies' work culture. On the same topic, millennials, Gen X and baby boomers share their stories working with Gen Z— and while these stories are hilarious, it also gives us an edge to understand the generation slowly taking over the world.
As a Gen Z who has worked with both millennials and people in my demographic cohort, I will say what we strive for isn’t far fetched from the older generation, we only have a more expressive way of bringing our interests to light. The demeanour in which we vocalize our thoughts and values is sometimes judged as a culture shock by the older generation— deeming us as aggressive and, well, bullheaded. As the generation known as the original creators of ‘cancel culture’, they might well have good enough reasons to be wary of us.
A little while after my high school graduation, I began working for and with people who fall into different categories, both middle-aged and young. We all wanted the same thing—to have a successful career and win the game. The difference was, that we had diverse attitudes when expressing our respective wants. While the older people worked late and hard, Gen Z worked smart and deliberately. Gen Zers are more about mental health and prioritizing how things are done— with an emphasis on work culture. We set boundaries in the workplace and we expect you as colleagues or employees, to respect that.
In a country like Nigeria, where cultural progressiveness is not warmly embraced and where respecting elders is an important key in which without, the custom doors cannot be unlocked. Now, imagine the profanity that comes from a gen Z telling an older generation, "This is not in my job description, and I can’t stay after 5 pm because it’s outside working hours." or when someone asks aggressively, “Do you know who I am” and they reply with, “No, should I? Lol” or how about those who ‘smartly’ ask for a raise? But, here’s the irony, most Gen Z’s who uphold work culture (as it should be) and might appear rude, aggressive, or lazy are the creative and innovative individuals who actually thrive at their jobs. Working with Gen Z requires an open mind and fresh perspectives. But, how are Gen Z’s reforming the way in which we work?
For Gen Z’s, It’s mental health over everything
Millennials, although have emphasized prioritizing mental health in workplaces, Gen-Zs have turned it into a movement. Being the highest demographic cohort to be more open to talking about their mental health issues. Ironically, we are the generation with the most mental health issues. But, compared to previous generations we are more accepting and optimistic towards therapy. With how hard life hits us individually and socially, we don’t want that stress on our work life and finances. Chances are if you’re a bully boss who would usually send employees on ridiculous errands, does not care about their welfare and try to prevent their growth, especially when the employee is Gen-Z, you’ll wake up to a resignation email one day.
Gen Zs are naturally competitive even in their work
Beyond our mental health and work balance advocacy, we also possess a fiercely competitive streak. We love to task ourselves to do more, challenge ourselves to test our abilities and improve them. When you work closely with a colleague and form a competition, it makes it easier to measure your strengths and progress. Being competitive helps us measure well with workplace evaluation. We possess the necessary skills, creativity and we actually do the work. It would have been a disaster, if otherwise, given the weight of our egos.
Gen Z workers are more open to diversity and creativity and are more socially aware
As mentioned previously, if you have a Gen Z working with/for you, get ready for expressive and fresh ideas. We might suck a bit in physical interaction sometimes, but do we have a knack for understanding diverse cultures and backgrounds; we also know our way around the internet, which is great for building a community. Just look at all the trends we have on Tiktok. Today, Gen Zs are avoiding companies that are not diverse in their company culture and are also known to push for DEI— Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. That is if you are looking for a candidate and are biased on gender, sexual orientation, skin colour and race, and age, you might find your company online being called out. Remember, you are dealing with activists who invented ‘cancel culture’.
Remote working is becoming the new norm for Gen Z
Although many Gen Zs have their concerns about working remotely, many still prefer the virtual experience of working from home. In the fall of 2020, a survey carried out by professor Santor Nishizaki and James DellaNeve, reported that “69% of Gen Z wants to work remotely at least half the time.” Though, the same report also shared how Gen Z workers wish to have in-person relationships with their colleagues. This is why other people tend to prefer a hybrid work culture, that offers them the flexibility they need. In addition, Gen Z settling for remote work allows them to improve their work-life balance, where they can have time for their interests, families, and friends, as well as taking care of their emotional and mental health.
I believe Gen Z are bringing hot takes and fresher work ethics to guide how we work and it doesn’t end at showing our worth. What we have done on DEI alone is impressive and I look forward to the many more things Gen-Z has to offer to the economic and business world.