Individuals born after 1996 are undeniably tech-savvy. More than any other generation, they realize how a workplace can be transformed by utilizing technology.
According to a recent article in Employee Benefit News, an overwhelming 89% of Gen Z workers recognize that we are entering the age of human-machine partnerships: 51% believe that humans and machines will work as integrated teams, while 38% see machines as tools for humans to use as needed, according to a recent study from Dell Technologies.
However, one thing Gen Z employees worry about is having the soft skills and experience that companies prefer.
Having interacted with electronic devices and social media throughout their life, Gen Z workers say they’re looking for more human interaction in the workplace, according to the report. The vast majority (75%) expect to learn on the job from coworkers or other people, rather than online; 58% prefer to work as part of team rather than independently; and more than half (53%) prefer to go to a workplace rather than work from home.
Employers can use this as an opportunity to set up cross-functional teams with complementary skillsets to encourage knowledge exchange and a fresh approach to problem-solving, the report notes. Internships, rotation programs and other early-career development opportunities can help young professionals gain experience and develop soft skills on the job. And reverse mentorship programs can enhance technical competencies throughout an organization, with Gen Z leading the way.
“Ultimately, those organizations that create a workforce in which all generations are supported will thrive in the era of human-machine partnerships,” says Danny Cobb, Vice-president of Technology Strategy at Dell Technologies. “An integrated workforce is an empowered workforce, one that can help their organizations transform and succeed in the digital future.”
Gen Z workers also say they are keen to share their knowledge with other coworkers: 85% would be comfortable mentoring an older coworker who was not as comfortable with technology as they are.
Engineering firm Draper adds that these generational partnerships bring about unique insights to problem-solving.
“We thrive on cross-discipline collaboration,” says Draper CIO Mike Crones. “Many of the technologies we work on are highly interactive, and Gen Z brings a curious, user-first approach that we might not otherwise consider.”
It's almost a given that these digital natives have advanced technology and data science skills, but what is surprising is the level of digital maturity they are bringing to the workplace, Dell’s Cobb adds.
“We haven’t raised a generation of robots,” he says. “Gen Z sees technology not only as a tool for enabling human progress, but also as a means for leveling the information empowerment playing field. Their combination of vision and optimism is remarkable.”