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A Generation Left Behind?

March 29, 2021

By Mary E. Corrado, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

Gen Z, ironically also known as zoomers, feel like they are missing out on career growth due to remote work.  Born between 1997 and 2012, it’s those in their early 20’s that are facing these drawbacks to remote work.

The Microsoft 2021 Work Trend Index found that while a majority of employees are hoping to remain at least hybrid after the pandemic, many Gen Zs feel differently. The survey revealed that they feel more stressed and find themselves struggling more than their older peers. 60% of Gen Zs say they are merely surviving right now. When compared to older generations, they feel more exhausted after a typical day and struggle more with work/life balance.

Gen Zs report this time as being highly disruptive.  I think most of us initially felt that way, but perhaps adjusted quicker.  The report also indicates that Gen Z has greater difficulties feeling engaged or excited about work, speaking up in meetings, and bringing new ideas to the table.

In general, Gen Zs need more career support as they are just starting out. This is where they are feeling left behind. Early career workers are typically very motivated to prove themselves and progress in their career.  Many feel lost on how to do that virtually.

So how can employers help?  Employers should be sure to provide the proper technology that will help bridge the gap between in-person and virtual communications. As ASE has advised, it’s important to check-in regularly with all team members, and maybe even a little more often with those earlier in their career who need the additional support.

This is also a time where talent development initiatives are extremely important. While team members might feel more out of touch, remind them that you still care about their career growth by providing talent development options. Providing these opportunities will allow them to grow within their position and their career and feel valued within the organization.

Other trends I found interesting from the 2021 Work Trend Index include:

  1. Flexible work is here to stay – 70% of workers want flexible remote work options to continue; yet over 65% are craving more in-person time.  Hybrid is likely the answer.
  2. High productivity is masking an exhausted workforce – 54% of employees surveyed stated they feel overworked. 39% feel exhausted. Employers need to keep this in mind.  While employees have been extremely productive during this time, they are tired.  Consider these stats from Microsoft for February 2020 – February 2021:
    1. Time spent on Microsoft Teams meetings has more than doubled.
    2. The average meeting is 10 minutes longer.
    3. The average Teams user is sending 45% more chats per week and 42% more chats after hours.
  3. Authenticity spurs productivity and wellbeing – We’ve written a lot about this lately. When leaders and managers are authentic and open with their teams, it generates engagement and productivity. One in five employees have now met their colleagues’ pets or families virtually.  One in six have cried with a colleague over the past year.  On a positive note, compared to a year ago, 39% of employees report that they are more likely to be their full, authentic selves at work.  31% say they are less embarrassed when their home life shows up at work.  I know my dogs have made their debut on camera several times!
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