I should start out this post by laying down a few caveats. The delineation between generations X, Y, and Z is totally arbitrary. Whoever picked the dates that delineate these groups is a mystery to me. The generalizations made about people within these demographic groups do not represent every individual born within those time frames. The views I am expressing in this post are strictly based on personal experience and are open to contradiction by future personal interactions.
But I’m having a tough time recruiting gen Z employees. I’m a gen X 90’s kid, so the age gap is pretty considerable. It would make sense that a 20-something who was brought up several paradigm shifts earlier than the newest entrants to the workforce would have trouble connecting with today’s 20-somethings. However, even between millennials at our ad agency and the gen Z hires there is a notable gap.
I think this has to do with the specific company culture at my Austin advertising and marketing agency. We tend to interact with one another, including the clients, in a blunt way. I think it saves time if everyone is on the same page about getting and giving fair, honest feedback. However, it doesn’t necessarily come out as nice. If you were raised to value niceness or being liked over straightforwardness, it is hard to adapt to the work environment here. And I am not able to rework my company culture to accommodate people who are more focused on protecting their coworkers feelings than creating the best work. Politeness is an important skill out there in the big world, but it has no use in my office.
Our environment here is less summer camp and more boot camp. It’s less drum circle than rap battle. I don’t pay employees in free wheatgrass shots and yoga classes. I reward good work with money. For recent graduates who fear confrontation and are more interested in their workplace offering a lifestyle proposition rather than a good job, there isn’t anything I can do.
I’ll end on a positive note: it’s not a total lost cause. There are some people who were born in the 90s who share my perspective, and are interested in our line of work and our working style. But damn if they aren’t hard to come by.