The representatives of Generation Z have problems with focusing, they get bored quickly

Apr 02, 2020

In the third article, we continue analyzing the main stereotypes about Generation Z with the help of HR and recruiting experts, as well as learning the opinion of centennials. In this part, we are going to consider centennials’ attitude toward training and feedback, as well as found out whether they really have problems with concentration and are addicted to the Internet.

The representatives of Generation Z have problems with focusing, they get bored quickly

This stereotype is partly related to the previous one, about multitasking and the ability to process a large amount of data. It is popularly believed that when you constantly have to study new information and switch from one thing to another, you lose the habit of focusing on something for a long time. Additionally, getting used to receiving large amounts of information from an early age, centennials have learned to filter most of this information as “noize”. Do centennials really have a problem with focusing, and how much it hinders their work?

Yulia Litvinovich, HRM in Andersen, Minsk:

“I wouldn’t say so. When they [centennials] receive a new task, it’s hard to drag them out of it, they are focused to the fullest degree. It happens they don’t even notice what’s going on around. This is more like a habit formed due to the work in open spaces, but the guys focus on a task completely and utterly, without any distractions.”

Lyudmila Voroshilova, HRM in Andersen, Polotsk:

“Personally I have never faced such guys [unfocused, who get bored of everything quickly]. Although, there is a difference between graduates of universities and graduates of colleges: the first ones are older and usually more responsible; therefore, they are better at staying focused. Guys from colleges are younger and don’t take the job serious yet, so they allow themselves to get distracted, to be disorganized. They can be very difficult sometimes to deal with.”

Vlad Karasenko, centennial, Marketing specialist in Andersen, Minsk:

“I think I don’t have any critical problems with staying focused. Well… it depends, like when problems fall in large quantity, it’s hard to focus on work. I can do one thing for a long time if needed, when there is an opportunity divert my attention to something else, to switch, it’s better. This, again, is about routine work. It would be difficult for me to work on one project for a whole day without any distractions. Moreover, I don’t like to sit all the time, I sometimes want to go out, chat with someone, make some kind of active stuff to unload my mind a bit.”

No especial tendency of getting distracted often was noticed in the case of centennials. Like all people, representatives of Generation Z can get tired or lose concentration after long non-stop work. Age also plays its role: very young employees don’t always take tasks seriously enough, hence show absent-minded behaviour. In a normal conditions and having an interesting task, most centennials work hardly and enthusiastically, without diverting their attention to anything.

They are ready to learn, but in a nontypical format

Unlike previous generations, centennials had access to all sorts of educational information from early childhood. The Internet in general and YouTube in particular make it possible to learn anything you want independently, from ABC to difficult programming languages. Having got accustomed to these possibilities, it’s quite difficult to motivate yourself to spend 5 years at getting higher education, when most professions can be mastered in half a year by combining self-education and professional courses. Along with classical higher education, huge textbook reading, instructions studying, and other traditional learning methods fall out of their favour. Is it true that centennials accept only YouTube and practice?

Lyudmila Voroshilova, HRM in Andersen, Polotsk:

Lyudmila Voroshilova, Halloween Photo

“Yes. Cause this is the age of YouTube, cause everything is available. Back in the day, the only environment for getting an education was school, and then university, maybe books and libraries as well… but now you can get it on your own. It’s not even needed to talk about any courses, you can independently learn a programming language in just a month since there are a lot of materials. That’s why it can be difficult when young guys join work and say, “Well, that’s it, I got a job, I no longer need a university.” And you’re trying to explain that studies are still worth completing, that the university has its own advantages… ”

Yulia Litvinovich, HRM in Andersen, Gomel:

“Here it’s also important to mention that centennials find and process the information on their own and draw conclusions. The information provided in universities is processed already, hence not interesting to them. They would rather look for something else to check if they were given the right information at the university.”

Karina Babenko, centennial, Lead Recruiter in Andersen, Kharkiv:

“Absolutely right! If universities had provided information based on the practical experience of the current generation, without focusing on some prehistoric factories and ratings of the 1990s, studying there would have been useful and interesting. If what’s of current importance and need had been taught, like it happens in good courses and meetups, guys would have studied, but otherwise, a hard no to universities.”

Well, this stereotype is fully confirmed. Perhaps the situation in IT is somewhat more acute, and in other areas, university education is still relevant (try becoming a doctor on YouTube videos alone). However, centennials have a clear desire to organize their own education. And if they still have to go to university, few of them get excited.

Centennials need frequent feedbacks and recognitions

Recognition of the importance of the work done is a key aspect for centennials. At least, this is another stereotype about this generation. Is this really so? Do all agree with this? 

Vera Sharnikova, Head of Recruitment Department in Andersen, Vitebsk:

“It’s individual. It can even be a desire to get recognition not from the management but from the team.” 

Yulia Litvinovich, HRM in Andersen, Gomel:

“Yes, they do need feedbacks, but more the criticism-like. They ask for constructive criticism, they need it for development. But only in the initial stages. With time, they learn to evaluate their work. Evaluation of the work with highlighting the positive and negative sides – I believe that this is what they are asking for. Not the recognition, but specifically criticism.”

Lyudmila Voroshilova, HRM in Andersen, Polotsk:

“Yes, I agree about feedbacks. I would not even single out Generation Z in this regard: to a greater extent, everyone always needs feedbacks. Generation Y needs feedbacks and especially recognitions even more. Speaking about recognitions, it’s more about Generation Y, they need to be praised and stroked like cats. As for younger guys, they just want to know what they do right and what not and move forward from that.”

Vlad Karasenko, centennial, Marketing Specialist in Andersen, Minsk:

Vlad is satisfied because he closed a task and ate cookies

“Oddly enough, but most likely yes, I want to hear feedback about the work done. When I hand in some minimal project, I want to say loud how cool I solved it. And I want to hear at least: “Well, good.” I won’t deny it. It sounds like you’re some kind of a dog and you need to be constantly scratched behind an ear, so that you continue to execute commands. On the one hand, that’s stupid, but on the other hand, I’d like to be told what’s bad and what’s good. So that in the future, I could either correct myself or say “damn, that’s great!”.”

The stereotype about feedback is confirmed, but as for recognitions, opinions are divided. However, the need to receive feedbacks is really more suitable for the image of centennials. Feedback help to understand what a young specialist is doing right, and what needs to be improved. Thanks to this, centennials are constantly evolving and achieving goals that are important for them.

For maximum objectivity, we found a guy in one of our offices, who presents himself as an anti-social person and introvert. He is a 31-year-old Java programmer, whose name we won’t disclose. The dialogue was the following:

“How important are feedbacks to you?”

“Not a bit, I know that I’m doing my job well and don’t give a shit about the opinions of others!”

“But in this case, how do you know that you are doing your job well?”

“The customer is satisfied.”

“So, the customer’s opinion is still important for you?”

“The customers pay, that’s why they must get what they want. Although I do not always agree with the technical solutions that customers sometimes insist on…”

As we see, feedbacks are important even for an unsociable introvert, although the reasons are different.

They are dependent in opinion on the Internet and social media

Another stereotype that has appeared as generation Z has been surrounded by all kinds of technologies since childhood. Daily scrolling social media is a normal process for them, and centennials are used to rely on the information they receive there. After reading several reviews on the Internet, a centennial forms an opinion that is very difficult to change even with strong arguments. Will our experts confirm this stereotype?

Vera Sharnikova, Head of Recruitment Department in Andersen, Vitebsk:

“They are all living on the Internet, and they really trust the information posted there. If something is said on Instagram, then this is the truth, no matter what facts it is supported by. They believe reviews very much. If a centennial reads a review that says a company has bad management – there is nothing you can do with it. You can try to prove that the review is five years old and refers to a person who doesn’t work in the company anymore. You can suggest a person go and chat with a potential manager to draw their own opinion. Still, convincing or breaking this stereotype will be difficult.”

Yulia Litvinovich, HRM in Andersen, Gomel:

“Probably, it’s 50:50. Of course, they look through reviews on the Internet. But, if they have anyone to ask, they will also pick up this information so as not to focus only on what is said on the Internet.”

Lyudmila Voroshilova, HRM in Andersen, Polotsk:

“Today is a century of reviews. Even before choosing a pan, everyone will read a million thousand reviews. Centennials have it in the subcortex: “read a review.” Yes, they are a little dependent on the opinions of others, none of them will do anything at random. They can personally check what they read a review about, but if the review was negative, they will have some fear or anxiety in advance. But at the same time, they are ready to listen to counterarguments, or to listen to the opinion of a close person they trust.”

Karina Babenko, centennial, Lead Recruiter in Andersen, Kharkiv:

“I came across this, not only in my generation – people have this in general. But I can’t say that I rely purely on information from the Internet. For example, about the reviews, I know from my practical experience that a person can be fired cause of poor performance. And then the offended person writes a review that, here is such a company… I know this from the inside, but people don’t, so they are repelled by what is said on the Internet. And I’d better learn what I need from people I know.”

As in most cases, this stereotype is partially confirmed, but in reality, everything turns out to be less exaggerated. Centennials are actively using the opportunity to receive information on the Internet, this is true. This way, they can check information about a potential employer. However, not everyone believes reviews unconditionally, and many are at least willing to consider other arguments.

We decided to check the level of addiction to social media not only among centennials but also among our employees of different ages. We put on the phones of the experiment participants counters that record the number of visits to applications. As a result, the readings turned out to be approximately the same for both centennials and millennials. And the most popular applications were Telegram (in average, 26 visits per day), Instagram (15 visits), and Facebook (12 visits).

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