Generation Z are often on the receiving end of criticism, particularly about lifestyle and work ethic. Laura Lane of The Lab Group defends them, arguing that what drives them is a sense of identity and purpose.
At Studio Blup, we champion generation Z and place great value on their work ethic, opinions, and attitudes. In fact, it’s a huge part of our agency ethos and we’ve built up our own gen Z audience network called Blup:Gen, who we weave into our creative process and provide opportunities for them to learn and develop their working skills, while understanding first-hand their behaviors, values, and ways of working.
Steven Bartlett’s comments about gen Z are interesting, but stereotypical and generic. We conducted a piece of research with our audience network a couple of months ago , called ‘The ReSet Generation’, around the myths and misconceptions of the gen Z audience. There are huge misunderstandings about this audience, especially when it comes to their work attitude, life values, and what motivates them.
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Gen Z are far from lazy
One of the biggest misconceptions is that gen Z are lazy, being branded ‘the snowflake generation’. We found that nearly 60% thought it was important to have more than one career/job. Gen Z are innate hustlers, striving to feed their passions and wanting to find purpose.
When asked about reasons why they would leave a job, mismanagement accounted for 20% while only 6% gave the reason of ‘intensity and work demands’. They don’t shy away from hard work. “We are often portrayed as a lazy, careless generation when in reality it’s often down to the actions of older generations that we find ourselves in certain situations”, says Megan of the ReSet Generation. “We are a lot more inclusive and aiming to be better to one another, and because of this we are branded as being snowflakes”.
Overstimulation, staying focused, and the continual pressures of social comparison provoked by social media has fostered unhealthy and unrealistic ideals of the world. We can’t sit back and blame gen Z for previous generations’ neglect, naivety and ignorance surrounding the knock-on effects of the world we built. Gen Z also expressed confusion and concern over finding their place and purpose, describing the difficulty in carving out paths for themselves, making decisions and staying focused with the pressures of comparison arising from social media.
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How can we better understand gen Z?
Employers of gen Z need to appreciate what this generation prioritizes and what motivates them. Working all hours to climb to the top, neglecting social time with friends and burning out is not what they see as success, nor is it what they place value on. That’s OK.
Gen Z are motivated by developing their identity and finding purpose, and care most about ‘freedom of expression’. It’s no surprise that this generation sees itself as a brand; often gen Zers’ actions, behaviors and preferences are to tap into and build their ‘personal brand’. Brands and marketers should consider how they market to these personal brands. Employers could consider ways of working that foster greater individuality in more positive and open environments.
At Studio Blup, half of my immediate team are gen Z by age demographic, and when I look at their work ethic, values and how they work, they surprise and inspire me every day. They often offer to work outside hours, especially if the work is going to feed their passions and develop their work skills and professional/personal development. Perhaps the question is: is the problem gen Z or the people managing them?
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I understand my team’s motivations, interests, passions, and values, giving them the freedom to express themselves personally and in their work (83% from our research stated this to be most important to them).
Because of my understanding and ability to be approachable and flexible in how I work and what I expect, I get the respect and dedication from my team which shows in the work they deliver. When I first started my career in media, staying late most evenings, coming in early and eating at your desk was the ‘done’ thing.
At Studio Blup we promote smart, flexible working. Hours worked shouldn’t determine ‘hard work’, and I’m a strong believer in trust and flexibility to get more efficient and higher quality work from team members; especially when it comes to gen Z.