If we can rely on one consistency across generations, it is a perpetual change in ideology. Each generation does things their own way.
Values and priorities drastically shift with time as a reaction to the world around us. But have you considered how the attitude, philosophy, and habits of the new generations will impact the way work gets done? It may be more staggering than you think.
Enter Gen Z. The latest group to join the workforce.
Unsurprisingly, they think differently than their predecessors. They bring new ideas, motivations, work ethic, challenges, and strengths to the work environment. Predictably, their behaviors will impact the way work is perceived and carried out.
Gen Z Characteristics
There are several characteristics that define Gen Z and make the group unique.
1. THEY ARE DIGITAL NATIVES
The people of Gen Z have grown up in a digital age with technology in their hands. In fact, the average Gen Z received their first smartphone on their 12th birthday. As a result, they process information differently. They excel in using digital technology like social media and are accustomed to receiving numerous messages and information.
2. MOST WERE BORN POST-9/11, AND THOSE THAT WERE BORN PRIOR LIKELY HAVE LITTLE RECOLLECTION OF ITS IMMEDIATE IMPACT
Gen Z is the only generation with no real recollection of 9/11. Children born to this generation did not experience the swift and profound impact that accompanied this devastating event.
The impact of 9/11 caused a discerning shift in the way society perceived security. Gen Z didn’t witness this mentality realignment. That being the case, 9/11’s toll did not impact the psychology of Gen Z as it did prior generations.
3. MANY MEMBERS OF GEN Z ENTERED THE WORKFORCE DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
The full ramifications of this occurrence are yet to be completely known. However, we can speculate that many Gen Zs were onboarded remotely, and most are experiencing a hybrid or remote work situation at their first professional job. Furthermore, they may be using their personal devices to work as their arrival to the workforce has coincided with a global chip shortage, forcing a dramatic shift in IT operations in most businesses.
These differences have a profound impact on the way Gen Zers perceive their employers, workplace, and technology. Data delivered from groups closely examining this generation indicates that a shift is already underway.
Gen Z’s Disconnect from Belonging
Gen Z workers between the ages of 21 and 23 have entered the workforce during a time when their physical presence has become superficial. As a result, they have not familiarized themselves with traditional office culture like previous generations.
Many Gen Zs began work virtually and have not experienced routines like lunch with co-workers or Friday drinks. These activities may seem trivial, but they provided earlier generations a sense of belonging in their organization. The bond created by socializing outside of the office simply hasn’t been there for Gen Z.
Consequentially, many Gen Z workers don’t feel the same loyalty to their employers. According to a study from Adobe, 56% of Gen Zs have the intention of switching jobs in the next year. Many cite burnout, unsatisfactory salary, and lack of passion as the cause.
However, another culprit could stem from the technology provided while at work.
A Dissatisfaction with Work Technology
Because many Gen Z workers have not experienced a traditional office-based culture, they view their employer through the lens of a remote worker. The technology they are granted access to becomes a crucial component of their employee experience.
According to the 2022 Endpoint Ecosystem Study, 71% of younger workers believe other companies are doing a better job with tools and technology than their own. This belief contributes to a general sense of job dissatisfaction which largely influences an employee to stay or leave.
A significant preference for Privacy vs Security
Privacy and security may sound synonymous, but the nuances that distinguish one from another should be carefully considered by employers. Gen Z has an extreme bias for privacy over security. Again, citing the Endpoint Ecosystem Study, 82% of Gen Z believe that their personal privacy is more important than company security. Meaning that they carefully read and internalize policies that pertain to their own privacy while glazing over other policies that focus on company security.
This carries huge implications for employers trying to communicate the importance of security and protecting information to this young generation. Seven percent of Gen Z workers said they have never seen a security policy and 13% said they haven’t received any security training at work. We know that this is unlikely true as most organizations mandate that employees sign off on security policies and trainings on a regular basis.
It’s clear that privacy matters much more to Gen Z employees than security. Employers can leverage this information by positioning security and privacy as two sides of the same coin.
No generation is perfect when it comes to password management. In fact, 29% of workers attest to keeping passwords in a personal journal, 24% store work passwords on their personal devices, and 27% keep their work passwords in a word doc or excel spreadsheet. However, Gen Z is potentially the most vulnerable of all generations. Due to their aggressive usage of technology, most Gen Zs have over 40 passwords associated with work accounts.
Most breaches stem from poor password hygiene. To combat cyber-attacks, employers should commit to going fully password-less, or provide their employees with a secure password management tool.
Gen Z is Value-Driven
An admirable quality of Gen Z is that they want their careers to be meaningful. According to a study from Ernst & Young LLP, nearly two-thirds (63%) of Gen Z feel it is very or extremely important to work for an employer that shares their values. This coincides with 69% of Gen Z prioritizing the enjoyment of their work.
Gen Z has passion and wants it reflected in their careers. Considering their value-driven attitudes, we can derive that if put in the right environment, individuals in this group will work with high integrity and intensity.
Predicting the Future through Gen Z
With what we know about the work habits of Gen Z, employers can begin to predict what the future of their organizations will look like from an operational perspective.
Knowing the attributes of a workplace that are meaningful to this generation is massively advantageous as companies create long-term strategies. Additionally, knowing Gen Z’s work-around habits and security vulnerabilities will help companies prevent unwelcome events like cyber-attack. To learn more about how Gen Z is working, check out the 2022 Endpoint Ecosystem study below.