Gen Z Surprises Us with In-Person Preferences

72% of Gen Z said that they prefer in-person contact. Yes, I said that correctly. Nearly three-quarters of the youngest generation currently entering our workforce, the generation that is arguably the most technologically savvy, the one that we feel is most tied to their devices – yes, three-quarters of that generation said they prefer in-person contact.

However, 36% of managers, over a third of the managers, rated poor communication skills among those young workers. So here we have this huge group of new, budding, excited employees; they’re just entering the workforce and they’re saying, “I want to be in person,” and a third of the managers, they’re saying, “That’s great, but you suck at it. You’re no good, and you don’t know how to communicate.” How is this happening?

Well look, I have, two of my three kids are in Gen Z, but they’re on the younger side. They’re still in high school, they haven’t really entered the workforce yet. But if we think about the timeframe, the timing of the current Gen Z, the ones that are in the workplace, let’s think about where they’ve been. They have been forced into seclusion, forced into technology, forced into communicating through little boxes, through little devices, all text, email – nothing, nothing that requires them to be in person within physical proximity of other human beings.

Majority of their post-high school, their college education, their formal training even, some of them were hired only virtually; they never even met anybody in person. And now, we as a society or organizations are throwing them into a lion’s den essentially. We are taking these individuals who have these amazing hard skills, they’ve reached the GPA, they’ve graduated with this degree, they look amazing on paper. They knew how to get through their interview, and we are saying, fantastic, you’ve got these hard skills. Come in and do this job, but now we’re going to throw you in with people, with other human beings that are actually complex organisms.

They are not machines that when you say 1, 2, 3, it repeats 1, 2, 3.

Human beings, with all of these complex emotions, experiences, and backgrounds, and we’re asking them to do this job within an environment that has so many variables. They are put into an unknown environment, a completely new experience. It is just like a child for the first time going to school, where they didn’t necessarily know how to interact and play with other kids. They’ve been at home playing solo or maybe with one or two siblings, but then we throw them into a community and they had to learn.

We’re asking these essentially children to do the same. Yet most organizations, leaders, or teams haven’t really been prepared to think about this skill gap, and it is specifically a soft skill of communication. And communication is the cornerstone for organizational results. So there is an opportunity, a pure opportunity for training of these new employees coming in. They just need to be trained on the skills.

Is some of it basic etiquette? Is some of it, how to have eye contact, how to have small talk, how to ask questions, how to listen properly? Yes, absolutely! Some of it may be a little bit more of an elevated level, but what are you offering as a leader, as a team, as an organization, to provide these skills when you’ve got some potentially amazing, amazing Gen Z employees who are rocking those hard skills, and all they need is to have the training to uplevel their communication?

If you’re interested, that’s what we do here at The Corporate Refinery. Message me, let’s talk further. Support the next generation coming into the workforce, you’ve got your superstars right there in front of you!