Gen Z’s Social Dilemma in a Remote-Working World
What companies should know about Gen Z — from someone who’s part of Gen Z
Working remotely sounds great. And why wouldn’t it? It offers flexibility, the ability to multitask, and saves time.
In light of the pandemic, remote work has grown exponentially in the past few months, possibly eclipsing the presence of on-site work altogether in the coming future.
While Millennials are the primary workforce of today, Gen Z will take that title within the next 10 years. For them, long-term remote work will be the new norm.
Some of them were learning how to use an iPad before being able to speak so working remotely seems like a natural transition.
It would seem that way.
Let’s understand who we’re working with.
Meet Generation Z!
Born in the years 1997–2012, Gen Z’ers are tech-savvy and skeptical. They question the traditions set from generations before and look for solutions that inspire social harmony.
It resembles their grandparents’ way of thinking and contributes to their deep concern for social issues.
They’re able to find information quickly, post it, share it, and create an online movement within hours that can reach millions.
By using the information available, they’re able to be independent and resourceful workers.
Along with these traits, their desire for flexibility, speed, and independence seems to make this a prime working style.
However there’s an underlying struggle in this generation.
With a heavy preference of digital communication over physical, Gen Z’ers generally struggle in developing deep connections in working environments. This leads to poor coping mechanisms and a struggle in emotional fulfillment.
It’s no surprise to see how this correlates with their high rates of anxiety and depression, with mental stability becoming a bigger concern each year.
This factors into their stress for their careers, money, and more as shown below:
Is Gen Z’s social media use to blame? It’s part of it. Teens and young adults today generally spend less time in face-to-face interactions and more time looking at their screens.
The media is also a big player here. Each day, there’s an overwhelming amount of negative news and this overexposure’s molded their skeptical mindset.
This has extended into their need for transparency, authenticity, and truthfulness in the workplace. In a remote-working world, this can be tricky to establish.
They want to connect. In fact, 72% of them want to communicate face-to-face at work but there are circumstances that prevent that.
Quarantine has only added more stress. It’s why developing a proper framework of social support for Gen Z entering the workforce is especially important this year.
Thousands of Gen Z’ers had their high school graduations canceled. Others lost vital internships and job opportunities, leading to uncertainty on how to be prepared for their careers.
They’ll be entering new phases in their lives but the transition will be difficult since they didn’t receive proper closure these past few months with milestone events.
This is where companies can step in and establish a strong social foundation in the workplace.
What Companies Can Do
The focus should be on implementing techniques that create a more mindful and connected workforce, making them happy to be around managers that value them as people, not just employees.
This can be done with virtual teambuilding so they build strong relationships while enjoying the convenience of remote work.
Here are some ideas:
- Coffee chats: Put four random employees on a call, giving them time to casually chat and discuss hobbies, their families, tell stories, etc. If they find similar interests, there’s more of a reason to connect again in the future. This encourages conversation with different groups of employees and diversifies their network with those outside their main team.
- Daily mindfulness calls: Organize voluntary group meditation sessions for 15 minutes every morning. This creates a space where people can reset and get into a better mindset to prepare for the day ahead. It shows care for their mental and emotional wellbeing and can connect them on a deeper level.
- Webinar based skills sessions: Organize sessions that teach them about applicable skills for work or personal growth. They believe their education has not given the required skills to deal with real life problems so they will value any practical learning. Whether it’s developing pratical skills or emotional intelligence, every skill is valuable.
This helps them continue on a path of learning, using a group-based atmopshere to create connections with colleageus and themselves.
Here are some other behaviors that’ll resonate well with Gen Z’ers in the workplace:
- Offer an open line of communciation: Set virtual meetings with managers and open discussions with upper level executives. Gen Z employees want their ideas to be heard by managers even if they’re just starting out at the company. I’ve seen the benefit of this in my past experience and was ecstatic to share my ideas with top leaders of the company. It made me feel that I could lend a hand in the company’s progress. It’ll show the company’s transparency and sincerity, two qualities Gen Z’ers value.
- Hear their thoughts on new projects: Gen Z’ers have an entrepreneurial mindset in approaching problems and see failure as a gateway to innovation, making them great voices for new projects and candid feedback. Present the project with a timeline and explain how it affects the end client. They‘ll be more motivated knowing their skills are directly benefitting someone.
- Reinforce existing culture and a sense of purpose: These employees want to know how their work makes an impact and that their workplace supports their growth. If they’re just joining, explain the significance of their new role and how their presence makes a difference for the team. Reaffirm their decision to join the company. Reinforce the existing culture with success stories, especially those that communicate effort, persistance, learned lessons, and growth. The more personalized the example, the more positive of an impact it’ll have on them.
Uncertainty is stressful and everyone is feeling the weight of the times. However, if our work life feels balanced, it adds balance to other parts of our life.
With work styles continuing to change and a new generation entering the workforce, we should continue to offer ideas that will create a modern, productive, and connected atmosphere.
Each person has their own needs in the workplace. While we look from a high level with generational labels, it’s equally important to acknowledge the needs of the individual and create a framework that helps them grow both in and out of the workplace.
Technology has developed with new platforms and systems of communication across all channels. By integrating this into company culture and activities outside of work, we can be together when we’re not together.
This will create a print of success for the generations now and ahead.