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Work smarter, not harder: Gen Zs’ approach to work

The disconnect between Gen Zs and their employers is quite the nerve-wracking dynamic that has seemingly caused a shift in the workspace landscape.

As Gen Zs increasingly enter the workforce, there are key challenges and gaps that leaders should address to support their newest generation of workers, who have proven that the typical work beliefs that have been defining employment for the longest time no longer apply in the ever-morphing digital era. It’s the era of working smarter, and not harder. 

Gen Z is one of the main drivers of change in today’s workplace. Defined as the generation of individuals born between 1997 and 2012 (who in 2023 are between the ages of 10 and 26), Gen Zs grew up with smartphones and social media, along with the associated conveniences and pitfalls. They are often the trendsetters, the trend-enders, the influenced, and the influential.

Gen Zers are no strangers to using their voices and the technology at their fingertips to shape the world around them. But as Gen Z enters a workforce dramatically altered by the pandemic, how does their impact translate to the workplace, and how can their employers create a space for them to thrive?

We share the different contrasting perspectives between Gen Zs and their employers, and where potentially it is necessary to draw attention to in order to bridge the gap between Gen Z and their employers in the workspace. These include;

Contrasting views on the importance of empathy 

Gen Z workers highly value empathy from their bosses and consider it a prerequisite to engagement at work, but bosses do not place as high of a value on demonstrating empathy. With work taking up most hours in everyone’s daily routine, Gen Z value having a mentally and emotionally safe space to be able to work and grow. 

Divergent views on the impact of work on mental health

Gen Z workers feel that they are not getting the mental health support they need in the workplace and believe their ideas about how work impacts their mental health differ from those of their bosses. This makes them feel the need to opt-out rather than stay in s space where they don’t feel heard or supported. 

Disparate views on the importance of work to personal identity

Gen Z workers and their bosses place different values upon work as part of their identities, which only makes the creative process much more complicated in the workspace. Whereas a job may be a 9-5, Gen Zs place much value in the intent that drives their workforce which only heavily depends on their principles and personal values. 

Other areas that lack alignment include rewards and recognition, and training.  

Without a concerted effort to understand the needs and motivations of Gen Z workers, employers risk disconnected workers and increased attrition. Addressing these challenges is essential to help the Gen Z workforce remain productive, committed, and connected to their roles and teams. 

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