Few Gen Z workers like working in a team

'Workplaces risk standing still or going backward unless they understand how to bring the best out of this cohort'

Few Gen Z workers like working in a team

Most Generation Z workers are not willing to work with their colleagues, and employers need to equip them with the necessary skills to maximize their potential at work, according to a recent report.

Overall, just 19% of Gen Z professionals report that they prefer to work in a team setting, and 31% state that they work better alone, finds Robert Walters.

This will be a blow to many companies who are battling to bring five generations under one roof in a hybrid working world, according to the recruitment agency.

And nearly half of managers state that the biggest impact to Gen Z’s entering the workforce is the decline in collaborative working, according to Robert Walters. A lack of communication skills (53%), team working (21%) and critical thinking (17%) from younger workers are the primary barriers to this, finds the report.

The report follows a previous Resume Builder study that found that most managers and business leaders find Gen Z to be more difficult to work with compared with other generations. HR executives are struggling to bring staff back to the office, according to another study.

Strength in digital communications 

But employers should not fret about what Gen Z workers lack, says Martin Fox, managing director of Robert Walters Canada.

“Gen Z’s have the potential to revolutionize our ways of working and business practices, but workplaces risk standing still or going backward unless they understand how to bring the best out of this cohort.

“Every one of us has weaknesses in our professional skillset, and so it is unfair to focus on what ‘isn’t working’ with younger workers – what about their strengths? Young workers possess a unique set of skills and characteristics shaped by their upbringing and experiences. Understanding these strengths – and adapting to this – can ultimately lead to a more productive and successful workforce.”

One such strength of these young workers is their ability to maximize digital communication channels: 44% of managers are impressed at the ease with which junior workers are comfortable using various digital communication tools such as instant messaging, video conferencing and collaboration platforms, finds Robert Walters survey of over 1,200 professionals conducted this month.

“Gen Z's ability to communicate effectively in virtual environments is valuable in today's increasingly remote and digital work settings – with the emergence of AI and the potential this generation brings in teaching older workers the benefits of this,” says Martin.

Employers are accused of being less ethical and inclusive over the past year in a report that investigates the culture of workplaces.

Helping Gen Z develop soft skills, team dynamics

Given Gen Z’s strengths and weaknesses when it comes to team working, employers need to step up to help them develop skills so they can be successful in the workplace, adds Martin.

“It is apparent that in-person communication and team-working needs to be built upon if we are to get the very best out of a multi-generational workforce and help Gen Z professionals to fully thrive in the workplace.”

Robert Walters shares the following tips for employers to help younger workers develop soft skills:

  • Scale back remote work.
  • Provide training.
  • Establish mentorship programs.
  • Encourage collaboration between Gen Z workers and workers from other generations.
  • Provide Gen Z workers with feedback and performance reviews.
  • Hire “the right leaders who have the patience and ability to understand the needs and strengths of multiple generations within a workforce”.

Only about a quarter of employees have a healthy relationship with their work - and it's negatively affecting organizations, according to a previous report from HP.

Also, “it is essential for managers to support their Gen Z employees and earn their full engagement,” say executive coach Jenny Fernandez, Kathryn Landis Consulting Founder Kathryn Landis and Director of Technology and Mental Health for Harvard Alumni for Mental Health Julie Lee.

They share the following strategies – via the Harvard Business Review – that you can leverage to create a team dynamic of collaboration, commitment and sustained motivation:

  1. Increase information-sharing to alleviate fears of uncertainty.
  2. Show them paths to career progression to incentivize them.
  3. Explain how their individual contributions matter.
  4. Give them room for autonomy to keep them motivated.
  5. Provide specific, constructive feedback to demonstrate that you are invested in their success.
  6. Harness community and connection to engage and empower them.
  7. Prioritize wellness and mental health to show you care.

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