For most Americans, working remotely over the past three years has been a huge adjustment, but what about recent graduates who’ve never set foot in an office?
Generation Z, also known as Generation Z, which represents people born between 1997 and 2012, includes those who graduated from college in 2019, 2020, or 2021. Many of them have known only work from a distance. One in five or 20% of Gen Z employees have never worked in person.
The big question is what effect will this have on their ability to grow as employees? Does it delay them in finding mentors, learning new skills, or networking with other professionals? What is that mean for their career and the future of work? What does Gen Z think of all this?
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Who is Generation Z?
There are always misunderstandings between the end of one generation and the beginning of another. Gen Z typically represents school- and college-aged people just starting to enter the workforce.
The Pew Research Center has determined that anyone born after 1997 is Gen Z. The cohort before them, the infamous Millennial, includes workers born between 1981 and 1996.
Of course, this is not an exact science. A few years ago, researchers decided to create a new designation known as Zillennials to describe the transition period between Millennials and Gen Z.
Like all the generations that came before them, Generation Z has its own interests and values. This is the most diverse and educated generation since this type of data was first tracked. Their philosophies also vary from baby boomers or Gen Xers.
READ: Why you can no longer afford to ignore Gen X in the workplace
Gen Z believe government should play a bigger role in solving societal problems and more than half believe humans are responsible for climate change. They are much more socially liberal than those who preceded them. The oldest Gen Zers are now in their early 20s and entering the workforce at one of the worst times of the last century.
The truth about Gen Z and remote work
Skynova’s new study is fascinating because it shows a young, tech-savvy generation eager to get back to traditional office work. Many have never had this experience and yearn for the benefits of working in person.
For example, 61% of Gen Z workers said it was difficult to make friends when working entirely remotely. And 39% of the same respondents found it difficult to find a mentor and network with other professionals in their field. Nearly a quarter of Gen Z workers surveyed also said they struggled to learn new skills.
Here’s the bottom line: 58% of Gen Z workers plan to quit their remote jobs in the next year, and most said they want hybrid or in-person roles. This is potentially bad news for businesses that are already struggling with retention. Another important question is, are Gen Z lagging behind in developing the skills or contacts Millennials had ten years ago?
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Is the remote control good for Gen Z?
According to a New York Times op-ed “Remote work fails for young employees”, Gen Z workers feel like strangers in their own company. A rush to change company workflows, impersonal Zoom meetings, lack of a communication plan, and a lack of on-the-job learning leave them feeling invisible and anxious to do what they were hired to do .
Without regular face-to-face interactions, these young workers struggle to understand company culture and their place in the grand scheme. Most entry-level workers seek the daily structure of interacting regularly with managers, attending meetings with senior management, and having “refreshing” conversations with seasoned employees. They need validation early in their career.
The editorial’s authors insist that companies need to help Gen Z workers by formulating clear plans to maintain communications, provide mentorship opportunities and grow company culture in the remote environment.
At this point, Gen Z workers are only slightly behind. The good news is that they can catch up as offices reopen and businesses roll out hybrid or in-person positions.
READ: How to Improve the Hybrid Workplace
Even though most employers feel like they’re underwater right now, it’s important to fill any potential gaps in Gen Z’s development as professionals. Why? Because this generation is the most numerous and the best educated. They will take the reins in the near future. No employer wants to inherit workers who are significantly behind in the technical and soft skills needed to be successful. Solving the problem today will avoid a major crisis later.
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