Variegated facets of Generation Z | Sunday Observer

Variegated facets of Generation Z

12 March, 2023

This article is based on information revealed during a discussion on the new generation of youth, their mannerisms, and how they are to be dealt with, the writer had with Tharindu Dananjaya Weerasinghe, a Senior Lecturer of the Department of Human Resource Management, Faculty of Commerce and Management Studies, University of Kelaniya.

Generation Z, often known as the Zoomers or Gen Z, is the generation that follows the Millennials and comes before Generation Alpha. The mid-to-late 1990s are used by academics and the public as commencing birth years and the early 2010s as terminating birth years of this group. The majority of Generation Zers are descendants of Generation X.

Tharindu Dananjaya Weerasinghe

Members of Generation Z, even if not necessarily technologically proficient, have been labelled “digital natives” as the first social generation to have grown up with access to the Internet and portable digital devices.

The impact on Generation Z’s attention spans, vocabulary, academic performance, and potential economic contributions is that they are spending more time than ever before on electronic gadgets and less time than ever before reading books.

In essence, Generation Z is currently represented in the higher education system. They are distinct. With friends and family, Gen Z spends 6-7 hours per day socialising since they are inherently outgoing. The problem, according to research findings, is that they interact with friends and family online through platforms such as various social media sites. There is no physical contact. We need both high touch and high-tech skills to survive in the high-tech age. Yet, the next generation has a problem because they only communicate online.

They are adept multitaskers. Gen z prefers to handle several tasks at once. According to the study, they typically use five screens at once. As a result, they pay little attention. Long-term consequences include a decreased capacity for prioritising and focusing on a single task.

Work environment

The new generation also prefers an independent work environment. Many people in this generation prefer to start their businesses someday. Not all of them are job seekers. Most of them also prefer to generate a secondary income. In universities, the majority of undergraduates work part-time.

Gen z is constantly learning. Within the next 10 years, it has been predicted that one of the two will have a degree, which is half of the generation. Also, they prefer to do good in the world. According to research, 93 percent of an organisation’s impact on society affects their decision to work there or leave the organisation. If the organisation offers a helping hand to society and engages in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), it positively impacts on their career choice and retention decision. We see community projects, organised by the Leo club, Rotaract club, and various other clubs and student associations in the universities as well. That is CSR. They are philanthropists. Other than learning in the classroom, they prefer to engage in social work.

They are the first true natives of the digital era. The z generation spends 14.4 hours per week on their smartphones. They interpret the whole world on the screen; and the effect is addictions, computer vision syndrome, zoom fatigue, digital burnout, cyberloafing, technostress, and more psychological disorders among them. They are more common, especially among undergraduates. And also because of this digitally savvy or tech-savvy nature of them, they capture whatever we circulate on social media. They share, react, and comment on posts just by reading their tagline of them. Another common characteristic of this generation is that they jump to conclusions.

They are very interactive. Mostly they are concerned with boosting their people management skills, but only digitally. They are also less focused. According to research, their attention span is eight seconds. They are knowledgeable and skillful, but the problem is with their attitudes. They are not good team players. The Covid-19 pandemic and resultant two years of online learning might be the reason behind this. Also, their tolerance is on a low threshold, which may be a result of their less engagement in sports, aesthetics and detachment from spirituality.

In addition, they are not good listeners; they try to talk more rather than listen. They are quite cordial, but not much intimate. They also tend to have short-term relationships rather than long-term relationships, at times, even with family members. The new generation doesn’t seem to be loyal to organisations or countries but to the target and the principal task. It doesn’t matter to them what the company is as the former President of India, Dr. Abdul Kalam once said, “Love the job, not the company because you never know when the company stops loving you.”

They perform well because of technology, and they prefer more consultative capacity even though they are not elders.

Reverse mentoring

This is the reason organisations practise reverse mentoring these days; seniors learn from juniors, mostly regarding technology. It is also notable that their creativity is quite limited because of the overuse of technology and addiction to devices, which is called dehumanisation. As a result of this, they are alienated from society.

They must be allowed to do more research on themselves rather than being fed with knowledge, through long hours of lectures and workshops. They should be given the chance to step into society, experiment, and learn on their own during their undergraduate period. Challenges in the way of some people in this generation have been removed by their parents. When they start university life, they have to manage everything on their own, possessing less capacity; this can be overwhelming for them, and the resilience of the majority can be poor.

When interacting with the new generation, it is better to follow the strategy of agreeing to disagree. First, we agree with them in a critical situation. Later on, we can explain and disagree with the original position of the persons and slowly bring their opinion to the desired position.