We’re Gen Zs and we’ve heard you. You think we're narcissistic, entitled, self-absorbed, and overly confident. While every generation may have been labeled as such by other generations, we say we’re entrepreneurial, technologically native, and still crave face-to-face interactions. And just like the generations before us, we are approaching life with our own, unique values. We can’t be summed up in a few adjectives and put in a box.
While we’re not all exactly the same, what we have in common is that we are the first digital native generation. Growing up with technology at our fingertips has shaped our lives. We weren’t shocked when all of a sudden we could order a meal by talking to a tiny device on our countertops or hail a ride from our cell phones.
From three ServiceNow Gen Zs working new full-time gigs in Silicon Valley, here are our individual perspectives on technology, specifically how it’s affecting us in the workplace:
Bryanna Fuller – “Some communication is better without technology.”
We have grown up with technology as our platform of communication, but we have a deeper understanding of the importance and value of human interaction.
Communicating through text, email, and social media has been like second nature to me since I was growing up at the same time as technology. Now, I believe our generation is at a certain tipping point where we crave more human connection.
We have felt the full impact, both positive and negative, of technology. It has helped us to be curious and independent, while also very dependent—to the point where it is extremely difficult to get through the day without it. Looking to the future, we know that we are going to continue to adapt to technology as technology adapts to us.
One of the ways that we are adapting is by making in-person communication more of a priority when it comes to work. In the “Gen Zs and the Future of Work” research conducted by ServiceNow, the company found that 83% of Gen Z employees prefer to communicate with their managers in person and 57% of Gen Z employees want to receive feedback several times a week or more.
Our dependency on technology has led to a change in our—now more heightened—need for in-person communication.
There is a certain level of depersonalization when it comes to communicating through technology. Our generation fully understands this because, for the majority of our lives, we have been dealing with issues that arise from misinterpretations of tone and meaning in messages.
For example, replying with “k” on text could mean that the person is mad at you. And, the period on the end could leave you second-guessing if your friend is livid or frustrated with you. Needless to say, you’re likely analyzing and trying to interpret what’s on the other end of that text.
These mixed-messages aren’t something that we want to bring with us into the workforce. When it comes to our careers, we want to make sure that we have a clear understanding of how we are doing, what is needed, and how we can do better.
We are not just trying to get a pat on the back or a gold star from our managers. Research from ServiceNow identified that the top reason why Gen Z employees like receiving feedback is to help identify the areas of improvement. We want more in-person feedback from our managers because we value in-person communication, not because we are “self-absorbed” or “entitled.”
Our generation is eager to succeed, and we know that in order to do that, some communication is better without technology.
Adam Golab – “We are more than ready to see how tech can help drive the future of work.”
You know that moment when you leave your house and you feel like you forgot something? You look down, check your shoes, make sure you’re fully clothed, start patting down your pockets, then it hits you. You forgot your phone!
That feeling of fear comes from the thought of being disconnected from reality. Sure, it might sound like an addiction, but really there’s a single fundamental explanation behind this: mobile adds so much value to our lives that we can't imagine a life without it.
Growing up a part of the “Always On” generation, all of this innovative technology isn’t anything out of the ordinary. But, on a similar note, all of this tech wasn’t made just for us.
Think about it: how many times a day do you use your phone? When you wake up? When you’re deciding on an outfit? Before your commute back home? Before bed?
We’re privileged enough to have the world of information at our fingertips in a matter of seconds.
And, it doesn’t stop with just mobile.
By solving for most of the complexities in our lives at home, tech has allowed us to spend more time doing what we want to do the most. But why limit this to just our lives at home?
With a quick Internet search, you’ll find that we spend an average of just over a third of our lives at work. So again, why does tech have to be limited to just our lives at home?
Times are changing, and technology has a huge opportunity to completely redesign the world of work.
In the future, imagine a day in the office with no tedious complexities, with all the time in the day to work on the work that matters the most! As Gen Zs, we see the promise in tech. In the next five years, we want to be using 5G, IoT, integrated devices, and more wearable technology.
We are more than ready to see how tech can help drive the future of work, making the enterprise just as easy as our lives at home.
Thomas Vickers – “I have become accustomed to consistent, real-time input from others.”
Studies have shown that Gen Zs struggle to find a balance between work and life. I can attest that finding this balance has been the most challenging aspect of my young career. And I think it is exacerbated by social media.
I view social media as having two parts. First, the establishment of a digital footprint (i.e. what I share with the world) and second, a rating system (what others think and feel about it).
My “footprint” establishes who I am to the outside world—my “brand.” And, my brand is woven through what is on my LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook.
Within each platform, there is a feedback system (likes, comments, views). It creates a dynamic where I see very quickly how things are received. From a comment on a thread to a joke in a group message, there are always reactions. This feedback loop has been a constant in my life since I first made a Gmail chat in middle school.
The challenge that I have faced since entering the workforce is that, for the first time in my life, this feedback loop has been greatly diminished. It isn’t that I feel I need a gold star or a thumbs down after everything I do, but more so that I have become accustomed to consistent, real-time input from others and as a result have to make adjustments to my expectations.
Adam mentions that Gen Z is dubbed the “Always On” generation. From high school onwards, I have rarely been unreachable. Snow day freedom was no match for emailed assignments. Today, that means I check my work email most nights and want to be able to log on and work anytime, anywhere to make sure I’m not missing anything.
I will always see the email my manager sends at 10 pm or the approval that went through at 5 am. What I have found hard to understand and get comfortable with is that with reduced feedback from what I’m used to—I cannot always tell what my manager is expecting or feeling. Do I need to respond immediately to that email that came in at 10 pm?
As a result, I react by dropping everything to do a task right away. This creates an endless cycle of making work never leave my mind. I think many others, especially in my generation, experience this as well.
What helps me find balance—and something I have learned through experience—is asking for the feedback I am accustomed to, especially when it comes to deadlines, my performance, and how I can improve.
At ServiceNow: I’m part of the finance rotational program working as a Sales Finance Analyst.
At work: I’m a curious, innovative thinker who just needs coffee, Goldfish crackers, a great playlist, and an epic to-do list.
Outside of work: You can find me trail running with my dogs.
At ServiceNow: I’m part of the finance rotational program working as a GL Staff Accountant.
At work: I thrive in a logical and organized work environment (and my secret weapon is…coffee. It’s never too early or too late for a good cup of Joe).
Outside of work: I’m probably enjoying a good biography or the occasional fiction book.
At ServiceNow: I’m a Product Manager working under NowX incubating a future product.
At work: I thrive in a fast-paced collaborative environment where I’m able to push innovation boundaries.
Outside of work: You can find me on campus at SJSU wrapping up with my degree in Computer Science.