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Gen Z will fundamentally change the world of work

22 Sep 2015

Generation Z will shake up the world of work as they approach jobs with a completely different mindset to their older counterparts.

“While the youngest are still being born, the oldest members of Generation Z are now 19 years of age and are making the journey from full-time education to the workplace.

“They are eager, digital natives with a unique approach to the concept of work,” says David Mills, Ricoh Europe CEO.

New research into the '4G Workplace' by Coleman Parkes, sponsored by Ricoh Europe, explores what impact Gen Z will have on businesses and how well prepared they are for accommodating four very different generations under one roof. The findings were surprising, according to Mills.

Gen Z is acutely aware that the lines between work and personal life are blurring. Work is a mindset for them, not simply a set of tasks to complete or objectives to reach. And with constant access to email and the latest collaboration platforms, most don’t switch off.

However, while conversations about this always-on workforce have focused on the technologies involved - the separation between work and personal devices becoming increasingly rare - little attention has been given to their mentality, says Mills.

The 4G workplace

Retirement ages rising and the health and fitness of older people improving, meaning many Baby Boomers are still working and some have 10 or more years of active work ahead of them.

At the same time, younger generations establishing themselves in the workforce. Generation X are now typically reaching middle or senior management positions, Millennials are starting to make headway and rise up through the ranks, and now, Generation Z are leaving the education system and entering the world of work, says Mills.

The report shows 65% of the people surveyed believe there are clear differences in how people from different generations work.

Making sure that these groups work effectively together and empowering them to thrive in their jobs is a challenge for every organisation, Mills says.

The biggest difference: Mindset

“The always-on mindset is almost inherent in the Gen Z demographic. As digital natives they’re not in awe of technology like their older counterparts.

“They’ve grown up in the internet age, with information and communication at their fingertips and this reflects in their attitudes to work and prospective employers.

“This is echoed in the decisions and thoughts around their future employment choices,” Mills says.

In fact, three times as many Gen Z respondents are attracted to companies that offer technology to enable people to work more efficiently compared to those from the older generations.

This isn’t necessarily a surprise, but it emphasises the fact that businesses who want to attract and retain young talent have to deploy the technology Gen Z expects - older systems won’t be tolerated.

According to Mills, Gen Z also have high expectations of their own positive impact on the workplace.

Most of them believe they will bring new ways of working, with exceptional technology skills, bright ideas and fresh thinking.

Findings suggest that businesses already struggling with Millennials face huge challenges if they fail to adopt new ways of working that complement all four generations.

“What’s particularly interesting is that it’s Millennials who are most excited and optimistic about the potential of technology, more so than Gen Z.

“This perhaps shows that Gen Z are immune to the novelty of tech, having absorbed it since birth.

“They’re accustomed to technology driving their personal and social lives, using it as the main point of all communication - and expect the same from work,” says Mills.

According to the report, businesses must embrace this unique mindset toward technology and the concept of work in order to harness Gen Z’s natural always-on attitude.

This will prove a key tactic to embracing digitalisation, improving agility and adopting new collaboration platforms across the business.

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