Lazy Gen Z stereotypes ‘not backed by research’

By Claire Churchard

- Last updated on GMT

Feedback is key: communication was the top response when young people were asked what they value from a manager
Feedback is key: communication was the top response when young people were asked what they value from a manager
The popular stereotype that young people are lazy and narcissistic is not backed up by research, according to Josephine Hansom, director at YouthSight, speaking at MA500 in Cardiff.

Millennials and Gen Z workers care about their future, progression and career. They also care about their prospects as they get older, she said today (24 May).

The research from YouthSight found that seven out of 10 described themselves as ambitious and will put in extra time to stay late to get the job done.

It also showed that management is crucial for attracting and retaining young employees, Hansom said.

Manager feedback is key

“Younger employees want to be able to speak to management, not be anonymous. They want to be noticed if possible. They want regular performance reviews, which ideally would as many as three to four times a year.

“Communication came out on top when young people were asked what they value from a manager. For example, soft skills around how the manager can help them improve. They want a manager that understands them and that they can relate to.”

The research also found that employer branding is important because young people are prepared to work for less money if it is the right company. They were also interested in working for small to medium-sized businesses, with only 5% looking to work for themselves.

Millennial managers

Two thirds of Millennials are already managing others, which will not surprise employers in the pub sector that offers young people the opportunity for fast-track career prospects. Hansom said the research suggests this age group does not always find it easy to manage. “They find it difficult to give negative feedback or delegate or navigate the world of management. They also worry about slipping into becoming a micro manager.”

Hansom added: “They are also concerned about their age, around how other people feel about their age. So it’s good [for their employers] to recognise that they are on a steep learning curve and help them overcome any challenges.”

One in four young employees has a “side hustle” to bring in extra money, develop skills and to give them the opportunity to work on things they are passionate about, such as brewing beer, photography, tutoring or podcasting. Side hustles are often more creative than their day job, Hansom said. She explained: “The growth in side hustles points to young people wanting to pursue their passions. So it may be that they are not connecting with their job.”

Asked if employers are going too far by pandering to the demands for feedback and attention from young workers, Hansom said: “It depends whether you want a happy and productive workforce. Ask yourself if you’re happy with your staff turnover, or churn, or if you want people to stay with you longer term.”

Top three things to think about for employing people under 35

  1. Recognise you only have loyalty of a third of your workers aged under 35 – try not to give them reasons to leave, and create a positive environment.
  2. Work-life balance is so important for young people. A third would rather have more holiday than be paid more, they want to do things that match their passions.
  3. Give them your attention. Young people want to know what they are doing right or wrong, and want to know what is going on in the organisation.

Related topics: MA Leaders Club

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