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In a world where emojis are replacing handshakes, and Zoom is the new boardroom, it’s clear how we do business is changing. And at the forefront of this revolution are the tech-savvy Gen Zeers, whose social skills are shaping the tech industry’s future. Vlad Kytainyk, CEO of Kitrum software development company, shares his insights on the changes Gen Zeers bring to the business.
Gen Z is the most diverse and well-educated generation in history, which undoubtedly impacts how they approach social skills in the workplace. As Tom Koulopoulos and Dan Keldsen wrote in the book “The Gen Z Effect: The Six Forces Shaping the Future of Business”: “Generation Z is not waiting for someone to give them permission to change the world.” As Generation Z enters the workforce and takes on leadership roles, they bring unique social skills and values to current businesses. Unlike previous generations, Gen Z grew up with smartphones, social media, and the internet, fundamentally changing how they communicate and interact with others.
As a result, businesses are starting to recognize the importance of these social skills and how they can be leveraged to drive success in the workplace.
Kitrum, a software development company featured in the Financial Times’ 2023 ranking of the Americas’ fastest-growing companies, has experienced it firsthand. Gen Zeers are changing how the company operates, both in terms of HR and as an audience for Kitrum’s clients’ businesses. Let’s find out how can companies harness Gen Z’s skills to create a more collaborative and innovative workplace culture?
What is Gen Z?
Generation Z is the demographic cohort that comes after the Millennials (Generation Y) and consists of people born between the mid-1990s and onwards. Gen Z currently makes up 27% of the US population, making it the most significant generation in American history.
It is the first generation to have grown up entirely in the digital age, with access to smartphones, social media, and the internet from a very young age. Consequently, this has influenced their values, attitudes, and behaviors, making them more tech-savvy, socially conscious, and diverse than previous generations.
Despite their young age, people of Generation Z are known for their desire for authenticity, emphasis on personalization and individuality, and entrepreneurial spirit. According to the latest Microsoft survey, around 62% of all Gen Z people have started or are about to create their own businesses, and 48% of Gen Z individuals have multiple side jobs, which is a higher percentage than small business owners (34%).
With a strong desire for independence and a deep understanding of technology, many Gen Zers have already made their mark as successful personalities. Let’s take a look at a few notable examples of Gen Z individuals who have achieved a particular success at a young age.
Greta Thunberg, born in 2003, is a Swedish environmental activist who gained international attention for her efforts to combat climate change. Her activism quickly gained traction, and she has since become a prominent voice in the global climate movement, inspiring millions of young people worldwide to take action on the issue. Nowadays, she influences millions on social media and keeps visiting numerous international events, including the United Nations Climate Change Conference.
Here’s another example: Tanmay Bakshi, a Canadian-Indian software developer, and IBM Watson developer who started programming at the age of 5. He is now a highly sought-after speaker and has collaborated with major companies such as Apple and Google to create innovative technologies.
The success of young individuals from Gen Z serves as a shining example of their abilities and potential. Whether through activism, entrepreneurship, or innovation, many Gen Zeers have already made significant contributions to society.
The Role of Technology in Gen Z’s social skills
As the first generation to grow up in a world increasingly connected through technology, Gen Z’s social skills have been shaped by their relationship with digital tools and platforms. With constant access to social media, instant messaging, and other digital communication tools, Gen Z has developed unique social skills that differ from previous generations.
As employees at the companies, Gen Z truly values:
- Work-life balance (particularly after observing their parents’ arduous work schedules that often led to limited time for family and leisure activities);
- Opportunities for growth and development within the company they work at;
- Employees who are open to different cultures respect lifestyles and identities.
All these make Gen Z a highly inclusive and tolerant generation.
Due to their comfort and proficiency in digital communication tools and platforms:
- They stand for clear and direct communication, which helps them successfully lead negotiations and talk to customers. Excellent communication skills also help them network, significantly influencing their career. For instance, recent market statistics indicate that 93% of Gen Z individuals use social media platforms. These platforms are primarily utilized for general communication and staying up-to-date on current affairs.
- Adaptable and flexible when it comes to new situations and challenges due to growing up in a rapidly changing world. For instance, Gen Z people have shown adaptability and flexibility in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. When schools and universities worldwide suddenly had to shift to remote learning, Gen Z students quickly adapted to online learning platforms and digital tools, such as Zoom and Google Classroom. They also found innovative ways to collaborate and support each other virtually, such as through online study groups and virtual mental health check-ins.
- Creative and innovative. Gen Z develops unique solutions to problems, such as creating apps to make people’s life easier and more comfortable. For instance, a 20-year-old software developer, Ryan Doyon, created a unique “NoteBloc” platform that uses artificial intelligence to convert handwritten notes into digital text. Doyon developed the idea as a high school student when he struggled to keep up with taking notes in class.
- They are excellent team players. Another excellent example of successful teamwork is the skincare company’s founders, Two Lippy Ladies. The company was founded by two sisters, Isabella, and Elizabeth Barrett, who were both still in high school. They started the company to create natural skincare products that were affordable and accessible to everyone. The sisters worked together to develop the products, build the brand, and market the company through social media. It indicates a willingness to work together towards a shared objective, demonstrating a collaborative mindset.
Navigating the generational divide
Navigating the generational divide in the workplace refers to the challenge of managing and working with individuals from different age groups, each with their own values, expectations, and communication styles.
While it can lead to more significant innovation and problem-solving capabilities, it also presents challenges in creating a cohesive and collaborative work environment that meets the needs of all employees. Let’s examine those benefits and challenges in more detail:
- Generation Z is expected to be a more valuable workforce than previous generations because they possess the necessary skills to leverage advanced technologies, which is essential in the current high-tech business world.
- Gen Z employees look for more than just employment. They value opportunities for personal and professional development and growth, which can benefit companies that prioritize investing in their employees. Such opportunities can increase job satisfaction, employee retention, and overall productivity, helping a company’s bottom line. By attracting and retaining talented Gen Z employees, companies can secure a competitive advantage in today’s dynamic and high-tech business world.
- Gen Z employees also value a collaborative, inclusive work environment that respects their input and embraces new ideas. As Gen Z is experienced and very tech-savvy, companies can significantly benefit from the fresh ideas and solutions Gen Z employees bring to the table.
- Blending work and personal life due to widespread communication technology can blur personal and professional time boundaries.
- Gen Z employees may have high expectations regarding workplace culture and flexibility, which can be challenging for managers to navigate.
- They may require more frequent feedback, recognition, and opportunities for growth and development, which can pressure employers to provide adequate resources and support.
- Gen Z is highly self-sufficient and cautious of corporate culture, and they seek enjoyable, groundbreaking, ethical, and multinational companies.
- The likelihood of job hopping might be high due to the desire for personal and professional growth and development.
Gen Z’s Impact on Business Culture
Generation Z’s influence on business culture is already noticeable, as according to World Economic Forum, Gen Z is expected to make up 27% of the workforce by 2025 in OECD countries. Their impact catalyzes change in workplace practices, values, and priorities, as they bring a different perspective and approach to work compared to previous generations.
They value work-life balance, flexibility, and a sense of purpose in their jobs, so multiple companies started to adapt to these requirements and create special working conditions. Let’s take a look at Google Offices.
Google offers a variety of flexible workspaces, including private offices, open workstations, and cozy nooks designed for focused work. This allows employees to choose the work environment that best suits their needs. Offices often include on-site amenities like gyms, massage rooms, and recreational spaces like game rooms and ping pong tables. These amenities can help employees stay active, relieve stress, and build stronger relationships with their colleagues.
Businesses need to adapt to the expectations and values of Gen Z if they want to stay relevant and competitive in the future. This means creating a flexible, inclusive work environment that promotes personal and professional growth and encourages innovation and creativity.
Another important thing is social responsibility. The desire to be employed by companies that actively exhibit social and environmental values is a prevalent sentiment among the American workforce. However, the latest insights from the Bentley-Gallup Force for Good Study underline that this inclination is of even greater importance for Generation Z workers and those in pursuit of employment opportunities. So if your business involves Gen Z as team members or as potential clients, it’s time to think about how to create not only effective, but also sustainable products and services.