What do Gen Z workers want? Face time, surprisingly

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Gen Z. They’re too young, they’re self-obsessed, they have hardly any work experience. They spend most of their time hooked to their digital devices, scrolling through a cellphone with one hand and tapping on a keyboard with the other. Or at least that’s what we think of them.

New research from ServiceNow paints a very different picture of this curious, in-flux of the generation born between 1997 and 2012 that is just beginning to enter the workforce. As workers, they’re thoughtful, believe in the power of technology to get things done, and despite their reliance on tech, they prefer face-to-face interactions with their managers and frequent feedback.

Instead of screen time, face time

Communicating digitally has been second nature to Generation Z. Perhaps that’s why they see the importance of human connection, of talking to their people face-to-face – especially at work.

A full 83% of Gen Z employees prefer to communicate with their managers in person.

“That was probably for me the biggest surprise,” said Jen Stroud, HR Evangelist and Transformation Consultant at ServiceNow, of Gen Z’s craving for face time. “I think because we tend to extend how we perceive Millennials into other generations that, ‘Oh they are digital natives and so, of course they’re going to prefer to do everything digitally.’ So to really have that be a clear finding that no in fact, when it comes to relationships with their managers, I think that they clearly crave that face-to-face interaction, whether it be in person or being able to see somebody on video – just to be able to connect in that way.”

Stroud said that HR departments preparing for an influx of Gen Z workers would have to prepare for this preference of Gen Z’s need to “connect in a face-to-face way…. and not expecting everything to be done in text messages or Slack.”

Stroud posited that Gen Z prefers old-fashioned face-time at work because they are the first truly all-digital generation – which makes them understand the dangers of living a fully digital life.

Constant feedback

It was also revealed that 57% of Gen Z employees want to receive feedback several times a week – or more. That’s a lot of feedback! However, this is the generation that grew up with constant “likes” on social media.

“They want to know where they stand,” said Stroud. “how far they’ve come, how far they need to go to get to reach their goals, and that really… If you think about it really does make sense because everything in their lives,  they can see with their mobile devices, they can track things, they can track what’s going on with a package or whatever. And so this comes that same way.”

However, there’s a disconnect between managers and Gen Z workers – 82% of managers believe that their Gen Z employes would rather communicate via instant message.

Moving fast

They’re a generation that’s moving at the speed of 5G in a time where one of the most well-known people in the news, Mark Zuckerberg, is known for saying, “Move fast and break things.”

“They value their careers,” said Stroud, “they want to move fast, they’re not going to spend years developing a career. They want to exceed in their careers, and so they want to understand where they are, and what they need to do to get to the next level.”