This generation may be the least likely to contract Coronavirus through touch at work

A lot has been said about Generation Z. They actually need to be managed completely differently than their predecessors, Millennials. They process information differently and they have different values. They also apparently aren’t as touchy-feely as Millennials. Literally.

According to a new survey of more than 1,000 U.S. employees from Reflektive, a performance management platform, when it comes to physical contact, flirtation, and fraternization—Gen Z is more closely aligned with the attitudes of the Baby Boomers than the characteristics of Millennials or Gen X. And in this scary time of Coronavirus which is spreading because of physical contact with other humans, perhaps everyone should follow Gen Z’s example.

Covid-19 is spreading because when an infected individual coughs or sneezes other people then inhale those droplets. The other way people are getting Coronavirus is because these droplets live on surfaces that we then touch. And with people touching their faces more than 20 an hour on average according to a 2015 study, you can see why this has become a global pandemic.

“Some pathogens can last for about nine days on surfaces, so we are constantly coming in contact with potential pathogens that can cause an infection,” said Jennifer Hanrahan, chief of the division of infectious diseases at the University of Toledo Medical Center.

“There’s a temptation to just lump Gen Z and Millennials together, but it’s clear that while they share some priorities, they don’t share others,” said Reflektive CEO Greg Brown. “Our research suggests that while Millennials and Gen X enjoy a more casual work environment, Gen Z may be influential in returning a greater sense of professionalism to work. This is a perfect example of diversity in the workplace and why performance management can be a tricky business and why employers are well-served to invest in performance management solutions that support the way people really work can help them best manage the diverse needs of no matter the different generations.”

So what does this mean exactly?

No touching

Well Gen Z is very into fist bumps, high-fives and handshakes but past that they draw the line. Gen Z is actually quite proper when it comes to acceptable physical contact practices with their colleagues at work.

For example, Gen Z (75%) and Boomers (80%) are significantly more likely than Millennials (48%) and Gen X (56%) to say sitting on a colleague’s lap during work hours reflects poorly on a person’s professional reputation.

Gen Z is also against flirting at the office unlike their older colleagues. Millennials and Gen X flirt at work—a minority even say they’d flirt to get a promotion (13%) or on a bet (8%)—81% of Boomers and 71% of Gen Z say they never do. In fact, a startling 7% of Gen X say they slap colleagues on the butt at work.

Strict boundaries

Gen Z also really tries to draw a line between their work and home lives. They don’t want their colleagues to be as a part of their personal lives as Gen X and Millennials do. Gen Z are significantly less likely to follow their managers on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube, Pinterest, or TikTok than Millennials or Gen X. In fact, 44% don’t follow their managers on any social media platforms, compared to just 30% of Millennials and 39% of Gen X.

Gen Z is going to keep surprising us. It’s up to employers to make sure their employees of every generation have the environment they need to engage and thrive,” added Brown.