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Feature Story

October 2016

Despite Tech Revolution, Younger Workers Want In-Person Collaboration

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Despite popular belief, 41 percent of generation Z says corporate offices are their workplace preference, according to a global study released by Future Workplace, an HR executive network and research firm dedicated to the future of learning and working, and Randstad US, one of the largest HR services and staffing companies in the United States. As a follow-up to a previous study conducted in 2014, the Gen Z & Millennials Collide @ Work report focuses on the impact of gen Z entering the workplace for the first time, and how millennials are engaging with them.

Consistent with 2014, gen Z and millennials continue to prefer communicating with co-workers and managers in person in lieu of e-mail and phone. This year, gen Z and millennials both said "communication" was the most important quality of a leader, compared to "honesty" in 2014.

"One of the most pervasive themes from this year's global study is gen Z's propensity and desire for collaboration," said Jim Link, chief human resources officer at Randstad North America. "Whether it is in a corporate office, at home or in a coffee shop, gen Z workers prefer collaborative work environments. In fact, our study found that global gen Z workers named 'co-workers who like to collaborate' as the type of worker who would help them do their best work, second only to co-workers who work as hard as they do. Furthermore, more than half (54 percent) of gen Z's said the people they work with is the top workplace attribute that enables them to do their best work.

"Companies seeking to be an employer of choice must leverage the collaborative revolution taking place and provide the technology, tools and processes that facilitate and encourage it."

Some additional findings from the survey include:

Younger generations want more social media integration at work, but admit it is also their biggest distraction. Globally, the technologies that gen Z and millennials want their employers to incorporate into the workplace include: social media (41 percent), wearables (27 percent) and virtual reality (26 percent). While they want to embrace social media, 46 percent of both generations also agree it is their biggest distraction from getting work done, with text messaging (39 percent) and e-mail (31 percent) following closely.

They want to work in the technology sector. Both gen Z and millennials are most interested in working in technology (45 percent) and education (17 percent). Both groups are least interested in insurance (3 percent), energy and utilities (3 percent) and telecommunications (4 percent). Almost half (49 percent) of gen Z and millennials said they intend to work in their current industry for their entire career, compared to 31 percent who said they won't.

Globally, work flexibility is now more desirable than healthcare coverage. In 2016, work flexibility has become a more desired employee benefit than healthcare for millennials and gen Z, yet only one-third of companies (34 percent) offer it. In 2014, healthcare coverage was the most desired employee benefit by both generations, yet only 50 percent of companies offered it.

While most have only worked in one country, they want to work in many. Seventy-one percent of global gen Z and millennials have only worked in one country thus far in their careers, yet 56 percent aspire to work in more than one country in the future. Those wanting to work in more than one country are more likely to say their companies are performing well financially or have better employee satisfaction scores.

The annual performance review is vanishing. The annual performance review is coming to an end as more gen Z and millennials are receiving feedback either daily (19 percent), weekly (24 percent) or "regularly" (23 percent) instead of annually (3 percent). In the United States specifically, 28 percent of gen Z and 17 percent of millennials receive feedback regularly.

Millennial managers struggle to navigate the corporate environment. In addition to stress and money, millennials named "corporate politics" as one of the biggest obstacles that could get in the way of performance. Additionally, only 27 percent say they are extremely well prepared to work in a team environment or rate their personal skills as "very good."