Secrets of generation Z

Feb 19, 2020

Representatives of Generation Z are already among us. They work together with us in companies, and the success of our business depends on their diligence and sometimes even on the decisions they make. Is it good or bad? What to expect from сentennials as employees? Together with experts from HR and recruiting departments, we will analyze the main stereotypes about Generation Z, as well as learn the opinion of the centennials themselves, in a series of 3 articles.

According to the Strauss–Howe generational theory, centennials (Generation Z) are those who have been born since 2005. In this case, the oldest representatives of the generation have just turned 14, so it’s still early days in terms of talking about them as about employees. However, the authors of the theory have noted that their chronological division is not accurate, and several years’ deflection is quite possible. What is more, some reputable sources define Generation Z as people who were born between 1996 and 2010.

In our research, by early representatives of Generation Z, we mean those born around 2000. Today, these people are 18-20 years old, and they gradually start joining various companies. What is more, some of them have already managed to grow into managers and even establish their own businesses. Let’s see how much truth there is in stereotypes about centennials and whether they are worth believing in.

Centennials are irresponsible, fickle, and have no loyalty to their company

There is an opinion that loyalty and responsibility are mere words for the youngest generation of employees. Even speaking without exaggeration, many managers believe that centennials tend to skip jobs without warning, leave for another company as soon as they are offered a bit more favorable conditions, and suddenly be out of touch when there is already a fundamental agreement about joining the company. So what our experts think about that?

Vera Sharnikova, Head of Recruitment Department in Andersen: 

“Indeed, centennials can be unstable in their decisions. They can accept an offer and then not to come to work because another option has appeared. And the young specialist won’t have any moral torments like “I have already promised something to someone.” In general, young specialists don’t cling to any particular place of employment. Unlike previous generations, they don’t have such close relations with their employers.”

Mariya Pankova, Lead Recruiter in Andersen:

“It happens that a person joins a company and everything is fine, but after half a year, they are offered another project in another company. If the employee likes the new offer more, they just quit. Those who belong to older generations have a greater sense of responsibility towards the company they work in. On the other hand, if an offer from another company is accepted, a centennial feels calm to say it. Situations when a young specialist disappears, doesn’t answer the phone, and doesn’t appear online cause of hesitation to say “no” are quite rare.”

Yulia Litvinovich, HRM in Andersen:

“Young specialists are always responsible in terms of work. It never happens that, due to some personal reasons, an employee is absent without warning. They always look for a solution that would be convenient for both the company and themselves. I’ve never noticed any apparent fickleness or disappearances without warning. ”

Lyudmila Voroshilova, HRM in Andersen:

“When 19-20 years old guys start working, they do become responsible. Fickleness and instability are there mainly in student times. Our partner universities, students of which we invite for an internship, mention these traits of some students. Some of them may get into something and then give up on it on the cusp of finishing, all this cause of new interest. But when these students come to work in our company, they are ready to take responsibility.”

And here is the answer of Andersen Marketing Specialist and a Gen Z-er Vlad Karasenko:

“Leaving work or disappearing for no reason and without warning – this is just the height of irresponsibility. That’s not the way things are done, of course. If I were uncomfortable at my current job, if I didn’t see any prospects, I would go to my manager and have a straight talk with him. And then they would either offer me something better, or I would leave by agreement of the parties. As for employment, I just don’t accept the offer right away if I’m not 100% sure. It’s better to take a couple of days to think it over, and agree when you’re completely sure. ”

Therefore, opinions on this matter divided: some experts noted that they really have dealt with the irresponsibility and fickleness of the centennials, other refuted this stereotype. At the same time, everyone agreed that even if a young specialist decides to leave the company or not to accept the offer, they will say it directly without any hesitation.

The Generation Z appreciates personal life and is not ready to work to the detriment of it

It is believed that people used to have workaholic tendencies. About 10-20 years ago, it was perfectly normal for an average employee of an average company to spend 10-12 hours a day at the office. What is more, they overworked without any additional payment, simply because the work had not been completed. As stereotypes say, centennials value their personal life and time and won’t work more than obligatory 8 hours. Is this really so?

Yulia Litvinovich, HRM in Andersen:

“I will refute this stereotype too: nowadays young people, who are 19-20 years old, spend at work much more time than those who already have families, who are over 30. Youngsters who have just begun their journey and are passionate about work they do can work till midnight.”

Lyudmila Voroshilova, HRM in Andersen:

“I would say that it’s quite individual and does not depend on a generation a person belongs to. In every generation, there are those who devote more time to work and those who are not ready to work for more than eight hours. But mostly our guys, even if they leave the office on time, can continue the work on a project after coming home. If a task is not closed, they will accomplish it at home anyway. For some people, it’s important that the work does not disturb their personal lives, but this doesn’t mean that at sharp 6 p.m. they drop everything and go home. There is still some sort of responsibility. After all, if they urgently need to leave, they will finish work later at home.”

Vlad Karasenko, a centennial, Marketing Specialist in Andersen:

“This statement is true to some extent. I think that if you are given eight working hours, during this time you must accomplish all the tasks planned for the day. If you didn’t manage to, it’s your problem, and you ought to find the possibility to finish them. But if everything is fine, then, after an 8-hour working day, my time begins, when I can forget about work and live my personal life, solving some personal problems, after all. On the other hand, if I have free time and I feel that I’m not tired yet, I can stay and just work longer, especially if the company pays for this.”

So the general picture is the following: it’s not like centennials don’t want to work more than eight hours, they just don’t think they are morally obligated to do so. But if they are truly passionate about a project, if at the moment they are motivated not by money and responsibility to the company but by interest, then working non-stop with breaks only for sleep and food is quite normal.

The centennials hate routine and want more interesting and personalized tasks

Previous generations began to work in different conditions, and the attitude to work was different. Most often, a person simply performed the tasks assigned within their competence, without thinking about how interesting these tasks were. Now young specialists are more selective and want to perform the tasks that are interesting to them and more suitable for their type of personality. Moreover, they do not hesitate to talk about it with their managers and sometimes even put forward conditions in an ultimatum form. So have our experts faced something like that?

Yulia Litvinovich, HRM in Andersen:

“I can’t completely refute this statement, I would rather say it’s partially true. Basically, centennials who just come to work really do what they are interested in. Approximately 70% of their work is what they like to do, and 30% is what’s necessary to do. After all, they understand that this is work, and it needs to be done, they get paid for this. Of course, they want to do what they like best, and the company gives them such tasks whenever possible because this is in the common interest.”

Lyudmila Voroshilova, HRM in Andersen:

“Yeah, when you talk to the guys, some of them directly say that yeah, the work has already become routine for me, I would like more new tasks. Although, speaking about the IT sphere, the problem is not in a routine, but rather in a large threshold for entering some project. For example, when it’s necessary to learn a lot of new information, or vice versa, there is no enough information, and searching for it takes a lot of time. Besides, young guys often say they want to work exclusively with new technologies – if any new framework comes out, they definitely want to work with it.”

Vlad Karasenko, centennial, Marketing Specialist in Andersen:

“I understand perfectly well that it’s not impossible to have only interesting tasks, as routine is also part of the work. But when all your work consists of a routine, you simply get sick of it, burn out, and something needs to be done urgently. Personally I try to take initiative and suggest more creative solutions to routine tasks whenever possible. When managers support it, that’s cool. But there are those who are ready to perform routine tasks all the time, who simply bend under such a situation and can do nothing with that.

In general, speaking of my peers, then according to my observations, the ratio of those who are willing to do a lot of routine work and those who try to avoid it whenever possible is approximately 50:50. Perhaps some time ago the ratio was slightly larger in favor of those people who were ready to sit and do the routine. Organizations were more disciplined I guess, and people were afraid to lose their jobs without finding new ones. And now, a person can easily afford to say “screw it!”. And this is a rather common practice. ”

Therefore, it appears that this stereotype is not exactly unfair, but rather exaggerated. Among both centennials and representatives of other generations, there are enough people who are ready to carry out routine work, even in large quantities. The thing is that among the representatives of generation Z, there are less of such people, but plenty of those who seek to be creative and value their abilities. In such a situation, the ability of management to use these creative resources and balance between entrusting the centennials with routine tasks and maintaining their motivation is very important.

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