What The ‘Selfie Generation’ Actually Wants In The Workplace

The youngest generation, often perceived as self-centered, entitled and tech-obsessed, are entering the workforce and bringing more value than stereotypes suggest. A new survey commissioned by ServiceNow Canada, the company that makes work, work better for people, explored expectations Gen Zs have of the workforce and busted several myths we think we know about how this generation experiences life at work.

Results from the Gen Z and the Future of Work in Canada study—which polled over 1,500 Canadian employees—revealed that Gen Z attitudes about workplace technology, preferred forms of communication and the value these employees bring to the workforce are not what you expect them to be. Turns out Gen Zs are actually quite similar to older generations – valuing face-to-face interactions and job security.

As the workforce embraces digital technology, Gen Zs crave more traditional forms of communication

After growing up connected 24/7, Gen Zs value the importance of in-person interactions at work, far more than we might assume.

  • Three in five (58%) Gen Zs prefer to communicate with their manager in person, while only one in three (36%) prefer to communicate by text and one in four (26%) prefer instant message (IM).
  • Contrastingly, older generations assume Gen Zs prefer to communicate by text (62%) and by IM (47%). Only 17% assume Gen Z prefers in-person communication.

Gen Zs are more than self-absorbed social media experts

When it comes to the value Gen Zs bring to the workforce, older generations don’t see the opportunities—beyond learning how to use digital and social platforms.

  • Gen Z feels they can teach older colleagues open-mindedness (53%), creative problem solving (45%) and how to have fun at work (44%).
  • However, less than one third of respondents in older generations think they can learn these things from Gen Zs (32%, 29% and 29% respectively).
    • 46% believe they can learn how to use digital/social platforms—far more than any other skill.
  • Close to half of Gen Z survey respondents say the biggest misconceptions older generations have is that they’re self-absorbed (49%), have a short attention span (48%) and are entitled (44%).

Unlike their millennial counterparts, Gen Z does not want to job hop—84% would prefer to have a long and established career at one workplace. However, there’s willingness to leave quickly due to unhappiness (85%) or career advancement (83%).

Gen Zs want practical workplace technology

With a third of our lives spent at work, Gen Zs are eager for technology to help simplify their work lives and recognize that technology can play a more significant role in the workplace. In fact, 74% of Gen Z respondents say that technology at work should be as easy as it is at home.

Having grown up with smartphones in hand, Gen Z employees want to use mobile-optimized technology at work, far more than they are currently doing so.

  • 62% want to use mobile technology for communication and 55% for collaboration, but only 50% have used it for communication and only 44% have for collaboration.
  • Despite being digital natives, Gen Z isn’t looking for futuristic technology at work. Only one in five are looking to use artificial or virtual reality (AR and VR) (22%), hold holographic meetings (22%) or use drones at work (20%). 

Survey Methodology

The online survey was facilitated by The Logit Group. The study was in field between October 17-29, 2019, and surveyed n=1,851 Canadians. The term Gen Z refers to Canadians ages 18-24, Millennials refers to Canadians ages 25-34 years old, Gen X refers to Canadians ages 35-54 years old, and Boomers refers to Canadians ages 55+. To qualify at the time of the survey, participants must have been an intern, past intern, full-time, or part-time employee in an office setting where computers, laptops, phones, and/or tablets are regularly used. They also must have been working in companies with 500 or more employees.

For comparison purposes, a probability sample of this size has an estimated margin of error* (which measures sampling variability) of +/- 2.3%. The results have been statistically weighted according to region and age data to ensure a sample representative of the population of Canadians working in an office setting of companies with 500+ employees. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.


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