Gen Z tends to get a bad rap from older generations for a lot of reasons, but let's not forget about all the things there are to love about them—because having them on your work team can bring forth loads of different perspectives and forward-thinking initiatives for your business. The Gen Z workforce is only going to continue growing exponentially, and while they might be more colorful, tatted, and tech-savvy than previous generations, there’s a lot to learn from them beyond their artistic flair and social media fluency.
Before you assume we’re here to discuss TikTok dances and eccentric fashion statements, here’s what we’re really here to highlight:
- They’re independent learners who question everything
- They’re not afraid to use their voice and express themselves
- They understand the importance of mental health
- They bring their values and beliefs into the workforce
1. They’re independent learners who question everything
Being true “digital natives,” Gen Z individuals were born into the era of Wi-Fi, Google, and social media. They grew up with more abundant, easy, and fast access to information than any generation that came before them—and being exposed to more information means that naturally, more questions will come up.
We’re seeing a generation that isn’t afraid to ask questions and examine things from different angles. While it is said that Gen X parents may have influenced Gen Z’s skeptical nature, Gen Z still takes the cake for the most skeptical generation.
With available resources like YouTube, TED Talks, online courses, blogs, podcasts, and more,the pursuit of knowledge has never been so within reach. Doing their own research and nurturing their curiosity has always been a click away for Gen Z, and the freedom to choose what to learn about as well as how they learn it is in itself a recipe for higher levels of autonomy and self-awareness. Gen Z is a lot more independent and self-reliant than we may have thought!
2. They’re not afraid to use their voice and express themselves
At this point, it should go without saying that social media has opened the doors for sharing perspectives, expressing opinions, and engaging in discourse with others. So it’s a good thing—and perhaps not very surprising—that Gen Z is empowered enough to speak up. What’s more is that they’re also creative when it comes to how they express themselves (think memes and parody videos).
For youth trying to manage their mental health, understand the shifting world around them, and find some sense of self, communicating through online humor has become a way to connect with peers as they relate to each other by sharing the same experiences.
Gen Z is also using these platforms to demand change, highlight injustices, and challenge the status quo. Their ability to connect with others as well as their hyper-awareness of what’s happening in the world is proving that Gen Z is a highly conscious generation that’s deeply invested in shaping the world for the better.
A study by Corey Seemiller from Wright State University revealed that 75% of Gen Z individuals care most deeply about issues that have a far-reaching impact, even if they are personally unaffected. That is because they deeply care about people.
Inevitably, they’re also empowered enough to use their voice offline, taking real action to drive effective change in the world, and we admire them tremendously for that.
3. They understand the importance of mental health
Life today is far more stressful than it was decades ago, and Gen Z—with their access to abundant information, a high level of self-awareness, and a multitude of platforms to speak on—has done a great deal to de-stigmatize the topics of mental health and therapy. For that, we truly have to hand it to them.
According to the American Psychological Association's (APA) Stress in America Survey, Gen Z individuals are significantly more likely to seek professional help for mental health issues and more likely to admit that they have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder (18%) or depression (23%).
Not only are they more open to talking about their mental health, but they’re also revolutionizing how the workplace addresses mental health. A recent survey found that 82% of Gen Z employees want mental health days;can you imagine this even being a serious concern 10 years ago? Gen Z is prioritizing taking care of their well-being and as a result, other generations are being given that opportunity, as well.
4. They bring their values and beliefs into the workforce
Tying into the previous points, Gen Z is indeed more unapologetic with their self-expression, but they’re also leading the way in their response and willingness to stand up for their values, particularly at work.
Thanks to Gen Z, the workforce is seeing more progress than ever before. They want flexibility, inclusion, and authenticity and they aren’t afraid to challenge policies and people who don’t align with those values. As a result, companies are changing. The Washington Post states that diversity and inclusion in the workplace are no longer preferences; they are requirements.
Gen Z believes that their values should be at the heart of their work; they want to know that the organizations they work for are moving with purpose and positively impacting the world. In other words, it’s no longer just about the paycheck and the title; Gen Z is looking for work that puts their values at the forefront—values such as DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion), sustainability, fair treatment, equality for all, openly discussing mental health, and much more.
Companies that don’t follow through with these things are at high risk of missing out on some top incoming talent. “If you’re under 35, you expect these conversations, and if you don’t offer them, you’ll have trouble recruiting,” said Alvin B. Tillery Jr., director of the Center for Diversity and Democracy at Northwestern University.
To wrap it up
These are only a few of the many reasons we love the Gen Z workforce, and we truly believe these cool kids are worth looking to for inspiration on how to better navigate and adapt to a highly digital, ever-changing modern world.
Gen Z has been pushing us to look in the mirror and challenge the status quo, helping drive a greater focus on personal empowerment, flexibility, collaboration, and a rethinking of traditional hierarchies. We have much to thank them for, wouldn’t you agree?
Images sourced from pexels.com