April 1, 2021
Born between 1995 and 2012, Gen Z currently makes up 24.3% of the U.S. population. They’re the first generation to never know life without the internet or cell phones, and the oldest members have been in the workforce for roughly 3 years now. Intuitively, it would make sense that this generation, who grew up online, would adjust well to working from home. Surprisingly, Gen Z hasn’t taken to remote work as quickly as we might have assumed. Why? Let’s dive in…
Remote Work Woes
Despite being the digital native generation, working fully remote is still challenging for Gen Z, with only 13% of Gen Z employees claiming to have no remote-work problems. 75% of Gen Z’ers surveyed by Tallo reported they wanted a job with both in-person and virtual opportunities. There are plenty of reasons young people are struggling with working from home, and the reasons aren’t all that different from what Millennials and Gen X’ers struggled with when they were in their early 20s, too… just amplified due to the pandemic.
Your early 20s is often a time of financial insecurity, as entry-level salaries combined with student loans lead many to live paycheck to paycheck. Given this, many Gen Z workers do not have an extra $200 to spend on an at-home office setup, and most live with roommates who are also working from home, making distractions common. This frustrating living situation, along with the pandemic making it extremely difficult to meet new people, and a lack of in-person meetings at the workplace making it harder to create bonds with managers and peers, has led to intensified feelings of isolation.
Overall, working from home has intensified these feelings of isolation across all generations, but it’s particularly significant for Gen Z because they’re at a critical age for networking and building relationships with friends and mentors. Since they’re isolated and feeling uncertain about their career trajectory, many are struggling with their mental health. According to a recent study, Gen Z has a higher level of stress than other generations, with 70% report feeling depressed during the pandemic.
How to Help
There are plenty of ways that company leaders and managers can help their Gen Z employees, which will not only lead to more productive employees today, but also more loyal employees for the future.
Here are just a few ideas…
If Nothing Else, Lead with Empathy
Do you remember your first job? For most of us, we were constantly worried about making mistakes, overwhelmed by all the new material we needed to take in, and exhausted from the long hours we weren’t used to working. Now, imagine going through all of this without new office friends to vent to and no open doors where you can pop in and ask a quick question. The pandemic has been hard for everyone at work but there are unique challenges for Gen Z’ers because of their age and newness to the working world. Leaders need to take this into consideration when managing a Gen Z workforce, actively working to help curb isolation and motivate them to keep focusing on their career goals during these trying times.
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