‘Digital Natives’: Coming to a Workplace Near You

August 23, 2022 | Blog
Generation z digital natives

5 reasons your expectations for mobility should change with Gen Z entering the workforce

Generation Z (born post-1997 according to Pew Research) surpassed Millennials in the US population for the first time in 2020. For years now, businesses have sought to understand and connect with them as consumers, but now they must get to know them as employees. The oldest of Gen Z are just entering the workforce, but by 2025, they will account for more than 25%.

Of the many differences between Gen Z and preceding generations, perhaps the most significant is their relationship with technology. Gen Z are digital natives – the vast majority don’t remember a world before smartphones. Their introduction to mobile devices was so early that some were even swiping away on iPads as toddlers.

Today’s workforce is already undergoing a digital transformation, but is it ready for a generation that grew up with supercomputers in their pockets? Here are 5 reasons why your expectations should change with Gen Z entering the workforce:

1. Their personal devices are part of their sense of self

Most of us, regardless of generation, wouldn’t leave the house without our phones. They’re too integral to our everyday lives. However, Gen Z’s lifelong relationship with their devices makes their attachment to them unique. Author Bruce Tulgan notes that because mobile devices shaped the way Gen Z thinks, learns, and communicates, they became “central to their sense of self and self-esteem”.

If Gen Z feels their personal devices are more an extension of their body than a tool, what does this mean for the future of workplace technology? It’s possible that their attitudes could create a push for BYOD workplaces becoming the standard. At the very least, it will become increasingly important for employers to provide the same level of functionality on corporate-issue devices as their workers’ personal devices.

2. Their familiarity with instant gratification will accelerate digital transformation

Gen Z grew up with the internet at their fingertips, and as such, they’ve become accustomed to getting any information they need instantly. That isn’t a negative thing, either – it’s what helps them get tasks done so quickly. However, because Gen Z grew up with a penchant for instant gratification, they will expect the same capability in the workplace.

The modern workplace is transforming the way work is done with advanced digital solutions that make workflows mobile-friendly, if not mobile-first. This added agility will be crucial to empower a generation of workers with an average attention span of only 8 seconds and an expectation that the tools they need will be immediately available to them. Employers will have to ensure that mobility is not just implemented, but done so seamlessly. Any issues with buffering, poor connection, or unintuitive interfaces will seem exacerbated to Gen Z employees.

3. Their adaptability will drive innovation

As digital natives, Gen Z has a level of digital literacy that the workforce has never seen before. They’ve been “speaking the language” of technology since their childhood, and can therefore adapt to new innovations incredibly quickly. Whereas older generations have generally valued stability and have been slower to adopt new technologies, Gen Z is more comfortable with change and shifting their focus to the next best thing.

This desire for innovation will not only affect how Gen Z works, but where they work. A Dell study found that 80% of Gen Z aspire to work with cutting-edge technology, while 91% say technology would influence job choice among similar employment offers. In order to attract the most talented Gen Z employees, companies will have to uphold the standard for workplace technology, if not exceed it.

4. They are less concerned about digital privacy than their predecessors

You would think that Gen Z’s understanding of technology would make them more skeptical about the extent to which their use of it is monitored and tracked. Surprisingly, this isn’t the case. In fact, Gen Z’s desire for internet privacy is significantly lower than preceding generations. For example, whereas other generations are more wary of targeted digital advertising, Gen Z actually prefers it. This isn’t to say that they are entirely unconcerned with their privacy, but rather they are willing to sacrifice more of it for the sake of convenience and utility.

This attitude could signal a change in the way companies can manage mobile devices in the workplace. If Gen Z workers can see certain controls like an MDM or UEM solution as beneficial to them in their work, they are more likely to embrace mobility management than previous generations. This freedom to manage mobile usage at work in a way that benefits both employers and employees could open the door to a safer, more productive workforce than we’ve ever seen.

5. They prioritize work-life balance and personal well-being

Many employees, regardless of their generation, care about work-life balance, but Gen Z workers tend to be more vocal and direct about protecting that balance. In fact, younger workers are willing to quit to preserve their well-being/mental health (24%) and maintain work-life balance (24%).

It’s no wonder work-life balance is top of mind for this group – Gen Z entered the workforce during a perfect storm: the pandemic pushed workers to reevaluate their priorities, and remote work tested work-life boundaries. People started to work from home, so work bled into life and vice versa. Even communications trends reflect the shift towards remote work. We all observed Zoom being adopted exponentially, but Microsoft reported that over the last couple of years, the average Teams user has experienced a 252% increase in their weekly meeting time and has sent 32% more chats each week. So how can companies manage the uptick in remote communication and blurred lines between working hours and off hours?

Contextual Mobility Management, CMM, helps protect the separation of work and life by automatically enforcing boundaries. First, a company can limit mobile device access to work apps and functions outside of standard work hours. Second, it protects employees on the job. Managing incoming texts, emails, etc, while doing other tasks, like driving company vehicles or operating equipment, is a burden on employees – not to mention dangerous.

TRUCE Account Executive David Coleman explains why: “Employees have to manage, on a transaction by transaction basis, incoming distractions. The device is interacting with them while they’re driving. It’s a stressor…. Employees know what your mobile device policy is, but we have a societal addiction and dependency on mobile devices…. We’re requiring that employees have access to technology that’s putting them at risk. It’s no wonder a driver using TRUCE is like, ‘This is great. I can now just focus on my job. I don’t need to worry about whether that’s an important message or an email.’ It’s appropriately enabled or suppressed based on your policy.”

Interested in learning more about CMM? Download our eBook, Context is Everything.

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