As HR managers are already well aware, Generation Z – which is about to hit the workplace – has vastly different career expectations than previous generations.

“I work because I choose to”

Society is often critical of young people today for their audacity, impatience or their need for diversity. Yet this generation is already succeeding where Generation Y failed, namely in striking a better work-life balance, or achieving a stress-free working environment and deriving as much pleasure from work as they do from their private lives. Work nowadays is seldom seen as an end in itself, but more as a tool for self-development.

Patterns have changed: “I work because I choose to” and not “because I have to” is now the more common refrain.

According to Carol Allain, a Canadian sociologist specialising in intergenerational management, these young people can work at home, in the evening or at weekends, but also need to take time out for themselves during working hours. Flexible working essentially needs to become fully independent working. The motivation to work for Gen Z-ers is more one of “achieving objectives” than working a set number of hours.

Work nowadays is seldom seen as an end in itself,
but more as a tool for self-development

Often confronted with parents suffering from work-related stress and unaccustomed to frustrations themselves thanks to their on-demand access to information, 15-25 year olds have developed a totally different approach to work than that of their elders. Their ambition is to feel good, useful, to work independently and to be one of the decision-makers in any future job.

Young entrepreneurs, who have just recently started to employ members of Generation Z, have already figured this out. They extend greater levels of autonomy to their employees in contrast to earlier generation managers who, whilst aware of the needs of Gen Z-ers, are sometimes more reluctant to shift towards more “liberal” styles of management.

Work has a sense of purpose

Work has a sense of purpose for this latest generation when authority makes room for transparency, when action drives thinking and when working together takes precedence over working alone. Social networks have been a fact of life for Gen Z-ers since their very first connection to the Internet.

Integrating these “digital natives” into businesses is going to be a critical step in forging intergenerational relationships between Generations Z and Y, as Generation X heads towards retirement.

This ultra-connected generation likes to work in a collaborative environment and is far less hung up on the notion of ownership. They are perfectly suited to hot-desking and shared working platforms, in stark contrast to Generation Y who find it far more difficult.

Businesses are now reaching a significant turning point; they are not only reorganising their offices and work spaces to attract this Gen Z population, they are also instigating a major shake-up of management styles, offering greater challenges, focusing on shorter term objectives, encouraging multi-tasking and promoting mobility as ways of providing meaning at work for this new generation. There is almost a need to master the art of taming these individuals to ensure they aren’t suffocated by daily working routines and to recognise the fact that they feed off continuous exchange.

So be creative, but above all listen to this new generation, who will undoubtedly go on to revolutionise the business world.


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