Where the workplace for years has been thinking in quarters, they are thinking in minutes

Today I wanted to post on this fantastic book called “Gen Z @ Work” by David Stillman and his son Jonah Stillman, a member of Gen Z himself.

I love this book because of the format. David explains that his business is to interview Gen Z to learn about their habits. His son Jonah is part of the business despite still being so young.

I love this book because David wrote it in collaboration with his son. David writes with the authority of a marketing scientist and Jonah argues with his father through out the book to further explain some topics his dad can’t quite get across because he’s not part of Gen Z. I love this book and I think you will too.

I’d like to take a rambling tour through this book by pulling out some quotes that struck me that I was not looking at Gen Z the right way. Then I will summarize the changes I see for Gen Z in the workplace. As a millennial I do see some things that I worry about Gen Z in the workplace that I have seen first hand from some of my assistants.

Here’s a list of the points I’m going to make about Gen Z:

  • Gen Z is Gen Zen
  • Millennials may feel threatened by Gen Z’s competitiveness
  • Downtime is wasted time
  • Gen Z wants to work by themselves

Gen Z is Gen Zen

“Where the workplace for years has been thinking in quarters, they are thinking in minutes. What happened in Q1 will not nearly be as important as what happened before lunch. Their fear of missing out will be too great to ask them to wait for information of any kind. It’s simple: Share company information as often as you can.” – Stillman

Millennials may feel threatened by Gen Z’s competitiveness

“Millennials were much more collaborative and therefore were quick to knock on their bosses’ doors. Though many complained early on, in the end bosses still felt needed. Gen Z, being more independent, will not go knocking as much. As a result, bosses of Gen Zers may not feel as needed and worse, they may feel disrespected of that they no longer control the flow of information.” – Stillman

Downtime is wasted time

“As cool as this “down” time sounds, it wil not feel natural to Gen Z. In fact, for drive Gen Zers, just sitting around thinking could actually feel wasteful. We will need help in seeing that this downtime is actually useful when it comes to true innovation.” – Stillman

Gen Z wants to work by themselves

“Gen Z might as for more private work spaces for when they do get to go away and just get it done. Part of it might be letting them go even farther than the four walls, to the local coffee shop or even their own apartment. And remember, it;s not that they don’t like others, it’s that they prefer to work by themselves.” – Stillman

Let’s sum up what we learned about Gen Z here:

  • Gen Z is Gen Zen
  • Millennials may feel threatened by Gen Z’s competitiveness
  • Downtime is wasted time
  • Gen Z wants to work by themselves

Gen Z looks nothing like I thought they would. With the collapse of the US economy and the dwindling supply of jobs for straight-out-of-college students being replaced by AI and automation, I can understand why they are so competitive. If the job outlook seemed this bleak to me when I was graduating I might have started considering to pursuit of an urban nomad lifestyle.

If you’re working with Gen Z keep these things in mind and you may have a better experience because you know what motivates the behaviors and why. Did this post help you better connect with your Gen Z members at work? Contact me, I’d love to hear about it!

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Author: David Neely

Professional Software Developer. Technology and Web Coordinator at the University of Hawaii's Manoa Career Center.