5 Things Gen Z Wants Their Managers (and Teams) to Know

5 Things Gen Z Wants Their Managers (and Teams) to Know | Career | Emeritus

For many folks born before 1997, the following words may not make a lot of sense. Give it a shot, and if you can’t figure it out, we’ve also added the decrypted version below. This is common lingo now among Gen Z or Zoomers. Best known for speaking in acronyms and short forms, this generation following the Millennials into the workforce is a whole ‘vibe’!

GEn Z Talk

According to CNBC, 53% of Gen Zers believe becoming an influencer is a reputable career. No wonder they have captured pop culture and social feeds with their delulu solulu clickbait stories and a fresh worldview. But how much does the professional world actually know about Gen Z as a workforce? 

Considering Gen Z will comprise 27% of the global workforce by 2025, their work ethics, strengths, and challenges are important for everyone to know and understand.

As we move into an era of multi-generational teams and flatter structures in organizations, some of these teams will be led by Gen Zs. Thus, bridging generational gaps within teams and organizations is essential. 

We caught up with promising professionals whose age puts them in the Gen Z generation to understand what drives them, their challenges, and, most importantly, what they want their managers and teams to know. 

1. Woke is Not a Bad Word

Did you know that the word ‘woke’ has native African semantic origins? Originally, the word meant ‘alertness to racial prejudice and discrimination’. But starting in the 2010s, it has come to represent a deeper understanding of prejudice in terms of gender, race, sexuality, and other societal discriminations. Interestingly, ‘being woke’ is often leveled (almost) as an accusation toward Gen Z. 

Chaitanya RL, a Delhi-based researcher and political consultant feels that wokeness is not something that people should have to apologize for. “I think Gen Z has lesser tolerance for sexist, casteist, or racist jokes in the workplace. And those who bring it up when a manager says something inappropriate are labeled as hard to deal with,” he explains. 

Key Takeaway: The workplace should be a safe space for everyone; there can be no argument against this basic expectation. If being woke or even understanding what ‘woke’ comprises helps us make work environments harmonious, it is a positive thing. It should never be too late for anyone, irrespective of their generation, to learn something good. 

2. Let’s Not Romanticize or Reward Overworking

“Gen-Zs aren’t lazy; in fact, we might be the generation with more people juggling more than one job at a time,” says Bengaluru-based techie Ananya H. She is addressing one of the oft-used generalizations about Gen Zs: they are not hard-working enough. As she and a majority of her generation see it, being productive is not the be-all and end-all of life. 

Burning the midnight oil at work (and burning out in the process) is not what makes professionals irreplaceable; their skills do! No wonder 50% of Gen Zs want to quit their corporate jobs in favor of entrepreneurship, according to CNBC. 

“For people who are used to taking their work hours for granted, regular 8-10 hour workdays seem like a bad thing. If that is what we’re paid for, and given how replaceable we are (there are thousands of applicants for one job opening always, and layoff season hasn’t been kind to a lot of people), we love having a life outside of work, and we honestly think everyone needs to!

Ananya H, Software Developer for a Global Fintech Company

Key Takeaway: Having boundaries at work is not a bad thing. We all could and should use some personal time. 

3. Using Technology is Smart, Not Lazy

While Millennials are the cross-over generation that knew a time before computers, Gen Z, however, was born into tech. No wonder they are often faster and better at using technology to get work done. The general consensus is that not everyone in leadership positions embraces their tech-induced speed at completing tasks. 

“A lot of seniors don’t understand tech in the way we do. For us, tech is a way to make our jobs and lives easier,” says Chaitanya RL. “It feels like others look at tech in a more dogmatic way and have rules about which software or app one should use for a task,” he adds. 

Key Takeaway: Those who fight technology usually end up on the losing side. Embracing technology and leveraging what Gen Zs can do with it is the way forward for multi-generation teams. It should be treated as a superpower and used to its best advantage without compromising the quality of work.

4. Empathy Costs Nothing But Means Everything

Adyasha Lowes“Sometimes, there are people who don’t take younger folks very seriously at work, and these situations make me want to not put in as much effort,” says Adyasha Priyadarshini Biswal. Biswal works at one of the biggest advertising firms in the world and manages her own intergenerational team. She believes that empathy is not a good-to-have aspect at work; it is a must-have. Cultivating empathy can work both ways. 

“I want my boss to have a great deal of empathy while having one-on-one conversations with me about my management skills and my career growth. I expect him to understand my ambitions and provide more creative opportunities because that’s what gets me excited and makes me want to go that extra mile at work.”

Adyasha Priyadarshini Biswal, Senior Space Planner, Lowe’s India

Key Takeaway: While previous generations have considered it a bonus or perk, Gen Zs believe that empathy is a basic human right and, therefore, one of the bare minimums for a healthy work environment. Time to embrace this change of perspective? 

5. Mental Health is Our Priority, and It Should be Yours Too

The concept of taking a day off because you are not feeling well emotionally or due to mental exhaustion is still a novelty in the corporate world. And we do have to thank Gen Z for making it acceptable. This generation believes that mental health is just as much of a priority as physical health. 

“A lot of managers do not understand people taking mental health leaves or taking a light day because of exhaustion,” claims Chaitanya RL, and it has a ring of truth to it. While the popular debate in the industry is still about working a 70-hour week for success, accepting mental health days will be a long haul. However, concepts like 4-day work weeks are also catching up, and that is a start. 

“Not respecting people’s mental health requirements is a sure-shot way to have your employees extremely burnt out after a while.”

Chaitanya RL, Political Consultant

Key Takeaway: Being tough is a choice, but expecting the same mental toughness from others is an imposition. We may or may not want to take mental health days, but the choice to take them should be available. Managers have a duty to be supportive of their team members and take mental health seriously. 

Each generation brings with it different work ethics and ideals. And more often than not, we are a product of our times. Intergenerational teams can work best with this simple but effective ingredient: respect. The most amazing thing about respect is that it flows both ways. Millennials and Gen X need to respect Gen Z’s need for flexibility in working hours, fluidity of personality, and dexterity with tech. Similarly, Gen Z needs to be respectful of the fact that experience is the most valuable transferable skill of all. 

Write to us with your thoughts on this story at content@emeritus.org

About the Author

Managing Editor, Emeritus Blog
Anwesha is our in-house expert on careers, trends impacting the workforce, and what makes content tick. As a journalist and content creator for 10+ years, Anwesha leaves a bit of herself in every story. Her superpower is to take the bare bones and turn it into a winning narrative for brands. Her passion to tell stories of human triumph led her to Emeritus where she continues to weave engaging tales. Anwesha is also a doting dog mom and hopes to make her boisterous canine a pawfluencer.
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