A new study from a recruitment firm shows that young people aren’t as welcoming of a team environment.
The results found in the Robert Walters study suggest managers and shop owners may have trouble having Gen Zers — those born between about 1997 and 2010 — be part of the business team, one that can have five different generations under one roof. Fewer than one in five prefer working in a team environment while one in three say they work better alone.
Nearly half of managers reported that the biggest impact of Gen Zs entering the workforce is the decline in collaborative working. They cite a lack of communication skills (53%), team working (21%) and critical thinking (17%) from younger workers being the primary barriers.
“Gen Z’s have the potential to revolutionize our ways of working and business practices, but workplaces risk standing still or going backward unless they understand how to bring the best out of this cohort,” said Martin Fox, managing director of Robert Walters Canada.
But rather than focus on perceived weaknesses and what isn’t working, what are their strengths, he urged asking.
“Young workers possess a unique set of skills and characteristics shaped by their upbringing and experiences,” Fox said. “Understanding these strengths — and adapting to this — can ultimately lead to a more productive and successful workforce.”
One of those strengths is communicating through digital channels. Almost half (44%) of managers observed that they were impressed at the ease with which junior workers are comfortable using various digital communication tools, such as instant messaging, video conferencing and collaboration platforms.
“Gen Z’s ability to communicate effectively in virtual environments is valuable in today’s increasingly remote and digital work settings — with the emergence of AI and the potential this generation brings in teaching older workers the benefits of this,” Fox said.
However, in-person communication is important and a skill that needs to be built up, especially in a multi-generational business, so that Gen Zer can fully thrive in the workplace, he added.
Robert Walters offered the following tips:
Provide training: Adding soft skills development, such as problem-solving and leadership skills, to training and development programmes from the onset at onboarding stage and throughout Gen Z’s career trajectory. Likewise experienced workers will need guidance in how to mentor a new generation of digital-first workers.
Mentorship Programs: Establish mentorship programs that pair Gen Z employees with experienced professionals within the company. Mentors can provide guidance, share their knowledge and expertise, and offer advice on developing essential soft skills.
Cross-Generational Collaboration: Encourage collaboration between Gen Z employees and individuals from other generations within the company. This allows for the exchange of ideas, perspectives, and knowledge, enabling Gen Z employees to learn from more experienced colleagues and develop interpersonal skills through interaction with different generations.
Feedback and Performance Reviews: Provide timely and constructive feedback to Gen Z employees during performance reviews. Whilst typically a performance review may focus on targets and tangible results, clearly communicate expectations regarding soft skills and offer specific suggestions for improvement. Regular feedback helps individuals understand their strengths and areas for growth.
Hire the right leaders: who have the patience and ability to understand the needs and strengths of multiple generations within a workforce. They will need to be both strategic and nurturing to bring a multi-generational workforce together.
Scale back remote work: if the very reason why soft skills are eroding is largely down to remote work, then companies need to face up to the elephant in the room and look at changing their ways of working. More facetime in the office will bring about natural collaborations and in-person communication.