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Why Gen Z Isn't The Easiest Generation To Work With? What Can Companies Do About It?

While Gen Zers are extremely tech savvy, they fall way behind when it comes to softer skills like, interpersonal relationships, empathy towards colleagues.
Cover Image Source: Pexels |  Mikhail Nilov
Cover Image Source: Pexels | Mikhail Nilov

As companies continue to struggle with inflation, falling revenues and layoffs, there's another big challenge in front of them -- figuring out how to engage with and get the best out of the Gen Zers. According to the World Economic Forum, Gen Z workers will account for one-third of the workforce by 2025. However, managing and engaging these young brains is still a tough job. 

Tara Salinas, a professor of business ethics at the Univerity of San Diego, told CNBC that while this generation is extremely tech savvy, they fall way behind when it comes to softer skills like interpersonal relationships, empathy towards colleagues, and other competencies that make one a good employee. She said that every company needs to redefine its approach toward this generation. 

Pexels | Anna Shvets
Pexels | Anna Shvets

"Gen Z are digital natives and they’ve always communicated online, so their interpersonal skills, or soft skills, have suffered,” said Salinas. “They took an even bigger hit because of Covid-19, and it has shifted the way that we need to interact with them in the workplace," she said.

According to a recent survey of 1,300 managers reported by the NY Post, three out of four agreed that it's way harder to work with this generation compared to the others. 65% of the employers revealed in the same survey that they have had to fire GenZ more, compared to the others. 

Strengthening The Relationship

Pexels | Creative Vix
Pexels | Creative Vix

Use their technology skills

This is the first generation that entered the workforce with native digital knowledge. Salinas says that GenZ can very effectively provide companies with knowledge of social media and newer artificial tools like ChatGPT.

"Companies are missing an awesome opportunity if they aren’t playing into the skills that this generation has," Salinas said. "Advancements are going to keep coming and from a business perspective, it’s overwhelming," she said. 

"To Gen Z, it’s normal, so capitalizing on that skill set is simply a smart business decision," she concluded.

Matching The Organizational Culture

Gen Z expects a lot in return for whatever they have to offer. One of the reasons why they will quit their jobs is if company values are not at par with their personal values. "A lot of companies see culture as a secondary thing," Salinas said, but with Gen Z it is front and center. If a company’s "culture doesn’t align with what Gen Z employees expect, they’re going to leave."

An important thing to take into consideration is the fact that Gen Z came of age during the time when mental health became an open conversation. "It’s such a different approach now,” she said. “Self-care, mental health, and global issues are important to them and, if it isn’t a part of your company culture, that’s a huge turnoff to Gen Z employees."

Building a Mutually Beneficial Relationship

Pexels |  Greta Hoffman
Pexels | Greta Hoffman

Work flexibility and remote working still top the list of Gen Z's priorities. However, it's important to note that Gen Z also considers career development and mentorship a deciding factor when it comes to choosing an organization. Gen Z wants the opportunity to let them work on their skills as they are fast and keen learners. Salinas highlights the importance of "respecting Gen Z's desire to learn." She talks about how mentorship is critical for each worker and how it can work "both ways for Gen Z."

The Bottom Line

Generation Z is all set to surpass millenials to become the largest generation in the world and as Apple's Think Different campaign once said, "You can glorify or vilify them but the only thing you can't do is ignore them." Of course, the ad was not talking about Gen Z in particular but it fits. The future is digital and it's time we change and evolve. Companies need to talk more about human-machine collaboration and redefine the fundamentals and Generation Z has a huge part to play in it.