Gen Z speaks out: Dispels misconceptions about the always-on generation

The future belongs to Gen Z, and a new study that delved into the expectations of 18-22 year-olds in the workplace finds 69% believe work life should be as easy as home life when using technology.

The study, "Gen Zs and the Future of Work" by ServiceNow of more than 400 employee and non-employee respondents, also finds that the top three criteria for what this demographic look for in a job or internship are growth opportunities (37%); interesting work (29%); and competitive compensation (26%).

SEE: 10 ways to prevent developer burnout (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Gen Z wants to set the record straight on some of the biggest misconceptions about them: That they are self-absorbed (46%); entitled (41%); and don't like to engage in person (40%).

"While every generation may have been labeled as such by other generations, we say we're entrepreneurial, technologically native, and still crave face-to-face interactions,'' wrote ServiceNow staffers Bryanna Fuller, Thomas Vickers, and Adam Golab in a blog. "And just like the generations before us, we are approaching life with our own, unique values."

What other generations can learn from them

There are plenty of things Gen Zs feel they can teach other generations. This includes open-mindedness (58%); followed by creative problem solving (53%); and digital/social platforms (46%).

Forty-six percent of respondents also say they can teach others how to have fun at work.

Burnout is real

Like the rest of the workforce, Gen Zs are subject to being overworked. The study finds that almost half of respondents (49%) say they have experienced job burnout in the past year. As a result, half of the respondents are considering changing industries.

The top three reasons for job burnout among GenZs: Working in a chaotic/high-pressure environment (34%); working overtime/outside normal work hours (32%); and an inability to handle stress and balancing requirements of school and work (28%).

The respondents who experienced burnout say they feel burned out an average of six workdays per month.

The importance of communication and recognition

Contrary to the 82% of ServiceNow managers who think Gen Zs want to communicate with managers via instant message, 83% say they prefer in-person dialogue, followed by 49% who want to communicate by email.

There were different preferences in how Gen Z interns want to communicate with managers versus employees. Forty-five percent of employees favor texting compared to 25% of interns, while 39% of employees prefer phone compared to 23% of interns.

Regardless of their job position, gender, intern/employee, or company size, feedback is very important; 57% of Gen Zs want to receive feedback several times a week, and half of their managers provide feedback to them with that frequency.

Seven in 10 Gen Zs say "constructive feedback" is paramount. Forty-five percent say recognition is also very important to them. Not surprisingly, 59% say a bonus is their top preference for recognition; followed by recognition in a 1:1 with their manager (51%); and verbal praise (45%).

The top benefits of manager feedback are to help Gen Zs identify areas they need to work on, according to 68% of respondents; helping them learn and grow professionally (67%); and to provide guidance on manager expectations (63%).

What Gen Zs want you to know

The ServiceNow Gen Zs blog authors, all of whom work in Silicon Valley, have a few messages they want to share. Although they are the first digital-native generation, with technology readily available, "we have a deeper understanding of the importance and value of human interaction,'' said Fuller. "Our generation is eager to succeed, and we know that in order to do that, some communication is better without technology."

While some Gen Zs may think the fear of being disconnected may mean an addiction to technology, "mobile adds so much value to our lives that we can't imagine a life without it,'' said Golab. "As Gen Zs, we see the promise in tech."

In the next five years, he said, this generation wants to be using 5G, IoT, integrated devices, and more wearable technology.

"We are more than ready to see how tech can help drive the future of work, making the enterprise just as easy as our lives at home," Golab said.

There is a lot of truth to the studies that show Gen Zs struggle to find a work-life balance, said Vickers. "Finding this balance has been the most challenging aspect of my young career," and, "it has been exacerbated by social media."

Because Gen Zs are so used to feedback on various platforms, it has become a constant in their lives, he explained. "It isn't that I feel I need a gold star or a thumbs down after everything I do, but more so that I have become accustomed to consistent, real-time input from others, and as a result, have to make adjustments to my expectations."

This has led Vickers to stay connected and "drop everything to do a task right away" even if he gets an email from his manager at 10 pm. This creates an endless cycle of being in constant work mode, he said. "I think many others, especially in my generation, experience this as well."

What helps him find balance "is asking for the feedback I am accustomed to, especially when it comes to deadlines, my performance, and how I can improve."

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