Currently, some experts and service providers through blogs, at conferences, as well as in well-known journals want to explain to us what expectations Generation Z or Gen Z has for the workplace and what employers have to do to be attractive to applicants from this generation. According to them, there are many serious differences to the previous generations. Therefore, profound changes within companies have to be made. What this should look like in reality however is not usually described, because the generations X and Y and maybe a few baby boomers also want to work in companies and have fun. Moreover, how can we adjust eggs to the new Gen Z requirements?
I can already tell you that it's not that complicated. Because for eggs, it has always been part of our philosophy to adapt to different characteristics and personalities. I want to exemplify this with the article "The surprising expectations of Generation Z". This is a blog from Management Circle AG, a leading provider of professional training, seminars and conferences. Christoph Erle lists the three central expectations from the younger generation: work-life separation, changing methods of communication and cooperation and independent work without any leadership responsibility.
|The X, Y and Z generations|
Sociology divides groups of people, who have experienced a certain long-term significant event together, into so-called cohorts. If the division into cohorts is based on the year of birth, it is also spoken of in generations. However, since the formative events have taken place globally at different times, there are e.g. also shifts between USA and Germany. Hurrelmann and Albrecht define the following generations for Germany :
The expectation that Generation Z wants a strict separation of their work and private life, to finish work by 5 pm and have work free weekends are explained in the article as saying that the younger generation does not want to give their employers any unpaid overtime.
It does not surprise me that any generation rejects unpaid overtime, although unfortunately, the opposite this is still the norm at many companies . On the other hand, at eggs, our staff have always, no matter when, booked their working hours online and any overtime that is done is monitored and compensated by time in lieu.
In my opinion, the expectation of "No work after 5 pm and on the weekend" can not be generalised. Our staff at eggs come from different generations and they are able to start their working day when they wish. The reason for this might be personal or because of rush hour traffic and their commute to work or maybe for personal preferences. At eggs they have full flexibility and everyone can choose how they want to distribute their weekly working hours, as long as this is compatible with their project team (e.g. Daily Scrum) and the legal framework. Writing and responding to emails on weekends or on vacation has never expected from our eggs’ staff at any time.
Digital Media is changing communication and collaboration
The next expectation that is explained in the blog post, is that Generation Z demands changing the methods of communication and collaboration. This is because that the author's eyes they have grown up in a digital world and that WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook have been their constant companions from childhood on.
Again, I see no disruptive change. At eggs, we have been using newsgroups and forums for over 20 years. Later, of course, various chat programs, wikis, ticket systems and collaboration tools had been added and afterwards these have been superseded by better and more powerful tools. At eggs, we tend to choose the most appropriate tool for a task and if there's a better one, then it is the one we will use.
The generation Z wants to work independently but without leadership responsibility
According to Erle, the third and last surprising expectation is that Generation Z wants to work independently, but does not want to take on leadership responsibility. Self-responsibility and independence have always been eggs’ values. We are deeply convinced that IT projects only work on the basis of trust instead of Command and Control. Therefore, we rely very heavily on delegation. Topics are set out with all of the people involved in the decision making process, but only the desired result is given not the method or the process needed. I am fully convinced that all of our colleagues want to achieve the best result possible and are aware of their responsibilities to our projects and customers. Of course, we also know that people make mistakes, so we ensure the desired quality through our proven development processes.
That there are staff members who do not want to take on leadership responsibility is not purely a Generation Z phenomenon. We have enough experienced employees who simply want to develop themselves. If they so desire, we offer a corresponding expert career path.
In summary, it can be said that generation Z may have different expectations, but a profound change is certainly not necessary at eggs. We have always worked with different characters and personalities. We value this diversity and give everyone the opportunity to get involved and develop. In this way, we continuously improve our processes at eggs and always remain true to our philosophy.
 Hurrelmann, Klaus; Albrecht, Erik (2014): Die heimlichen Revolutionäre. (The Secret Revolutionaries) Weinheim: Beltz