'Old School' communication for the i-Gen workplace

19 October 2015

Generation Z might be the firstly truly digital generation but that doesn’t mean technology is the way they want to communicate in the workplace according to the latest research by global recruiter Robert Half.

“While the digital world dominates their lives, 74% of Generation Z’s surveyed revealed that face-to-face contact was their preferred way to communicate in the workplace,” Robert Half Senior Managing Director David Jones said.

“According to the survey results, working via email, texting or messaging apps don’t rate high on the radar of Generation Z either,” Mr Jones said.

The US led survey by Robert Half involved almost 800 university students between the ages of 18-25 and examined their goals and aspirations as they get ready to launch their careers.

“Snapchat and Instagram might be the way Generation Z connects with their friends but a preference for digital communication doesn’t necessarily transcend to the workplace,” Mr Jones said.

“The perception of Generation Z is not necessarily the reality,” he said

“Despite all the leaps and bounds in technology, the power of face-to-face communication in the workplace cannot be ignored,” Mr Jones said.

This view is also shared by 23 year old Sydney based Accountant Cameron Dietrich who believes face-to-face communication is critical to the success of his career.

“While email, phone and IM are important everyday workplace communication tools, nothing beats in person contact to establish rapport and foster a sense of trust and credibility.

“It is even more important in the early stages of your career when you are looking to build relationships with your colleagues,” Mr Dietrich said.

“It doesn’t matter whether it’s a traditional workplace, a flexible or collaborative company, or any other type of work style, face-to face interaction continues to be critical in every work scenario,” Mr Jones said.

“Strong personal communication skills will be the key to success for Generation Z, just as it has been for their predecessors,” he said.

Despite the strong focus for face-to-face contact, the emergence of Generation Z could mean the death of the open plan office.

“While they might favour collaboration, the research highlights Generation Z are equally keen to shut the door on an office than sit side-by-side,” Mr Jones said.

The survey revealed that collaborating with colleagues in a small group at the office (64 percent) is the preferred work environment, while working virtually off-site was least favoured (7 percent).

“Employers will have to work hard to ensure they get the best out of the new ‘intergenerational’ workforce,” Mr Jones said.

The attitude towards co-workers remains a challenge with the survey revealing that 45% cited personal challenges working with baby boomers, compared to 17% who anticipate difficulties with Gen X and 5% with millennials.

“Generation Z has grown up with 24/7 technology and thrives in an environment that supports their thirst for knowledge and learning. Employers who can meet these demands will be in a better place to retain the next generation of talent,” Mr Jones

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Gabrielle Nagy  
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