What can we learn from previous generations

How Generation Z wants to work - and what we can learn from them

Sitting swinging at your laptop or answering emails in Bali? There are many ideas about how Generation Z will work in the future. It turns out that many of these assumptions are quite wrong. And: We can even benefit from the attitudes of the Z-lers!

on April 17th, 2019, 9 a.m.

Much is ascribed to the growing generation Z and the characteristics are not always laudable. They have too little zest for action, they are on their smartphones too much and they should also be depressed. This generation in particular has a very precise idea of ​​how they want to work in the future - and we can learn a lot from them. As part of the 4Gamechangers Conference, which took place in Vienna last week, various experts dealt with future topics and asked, among other things, what will make up the generation of tomorrow.

Generation Z refers to those people who were born between 1995 and 2012. Z follows the Millennial generation, also known as Generation Y. A division into generations is a relatively new phenomenon that began in the 20th century with the "baby boomers" (born around 1950 to 1965). In the meantime, division into generations is used as an aid to reducing complexity. In the field of business, the generation split is also often used to predict trends on the labor market at an early stage. Further information e.g. on die-generation-z.de.

1. She is not interested in work-life balance

Hanging out with colleagues at work and doing sport together - that may be the dream of millennials, but certainly not that of Generation Z, you know Christian Scholz, Professor at the Department of Business Administration at Saarland University and expert on questions about Generation Z. This "Work-life blending"As Scholz calls it, the smooth transition from everyday working life to leisure time, is not a concept that Z-learners like. On the contrary: They are not interested in finding the ideal balance to their work, they want to Strictly separate work and leisure time, keyword: "Work-life separation"Checking mails on vacation and reading a few documents for work in the evening? This generation thinks very little of that.

2. Work 12 hours a day? Certainly not!

Z thinks that one shouldn't have to recover from work. The Z-lers can therefore do little with the neoliberal dream of the hard-working "workhorse" idealized by previous generations. Innovations such as the 12-hour day therefore do not fit into their view of the world either, rather they talk about working time models like that 30 hour week that enable them to realize their dreams away from work (and at the same time be more productive at work).

3. Smartphone yes - but not always

Generation Z is often said to be sticking to their smartphones all the time. Which is also true, after all, unlike their predecessors, they grew up with digital products and know how to use them. Being online all the time has its price, of course, as young people are because of the pressure from social media more depressed than everas current studies show.

But precisely because they have not experienced the switch from the analog to the digital world, they know haptic products - such as books - to appreciate more again. Start ups like that of Martin Blank, which with "Story One" enables storytellers to publish their own books in an uncomplicated way, are particularly popular with the young target group.

Scholz therefore describes Generation Z as capable of learning when it comes to dealing with digitization. They have had enough bad experiences with constant exposure in the digital world and draw their experiences from it. Whether it will be exclusively in the future iPad classes Scholz considers it questionable. Such classes are young people's "worst nightmare"because they are already confronted with two to three screens in their free time, the professor believes.

Generation Z will develop in a completely different direction than the company or politics might wish

4. Today's world of work is not (yet) ready for "Z"

Many today still ask the question whether today's youth is even ready for tomorrow's world of work. Scholz thinks this way of thinking is a big mistake and advises companies to rethink now: The economy should get away from the expectations of the "young" - because the "young" already have a very clear idea of ​​what their working life should be like. While hip companies like Google Experimenting with "Activity Based Work Spaces" and flying work islands and believing that they have leased the monopoly as a "cool employer", the Z-lers think in a completely different direction. You wish clear conditions in the office - and that starts with a fixed place to work.

5. Z wants goals in mind, but not illusions

The topic Structure and clarity also extends to the management area. Z-lers want clear guidelines from their superiors, they think little of amical leadership styles as they are currently conveyed in various executive coaching sessions. Managers should assume a leading role and provide a clear vision with which one can identify as an employee. What is not possible, however, are big promises and illusions that seem unattainable. Growing up in a world in which advertising is omnipresent - whether on social media through influencers, on the Internet while shopping or in the real world - they have learned to question the marketing language of the advertising industry and are not in the mood for empty words. If the visions are realistic, however, Z-people are not only more motivated, but also willing to proactively participate in the development of a project. If companies understand this, they will be able to hold their future employees much more easily than with football tables or hammocks in the office.

6. Generation Z: Don't underestimate!

"Generation Z will develop in a completely different direction than the company or politics might wish," states Scholz. So it is not only the economy that will have to adapt with regard to employment relationships, politics also has to learn new things. Protest movements like the "Fridays for Future"- Demonstrations are a good example of this and show the impact young people have thanks to networking in social media. So the politicians must slowly adjust to Generation Z if they want to keep them as future voters. Right now you shouldn't make the mistake of not trusting Z - instead, you should enter into a dialogue with them.