Gen Z employees lack the ability to get along with co-workers who have different opinions, Channel 4’s chief has said.
Alex Mahon, the TV channel’s chief exec, believes Gen Z workers are coming into the workplace with a poor ability to debate issues or respectfully disagree on certain subjects.
And the root cause? Social media, apparently.
“What we are seeing with young people who come into the workplace, Gen Z, particularly post-pandemic and with this concentration of short-form content, is that they haven’t got the skills to debate things,” she said during a Royal Television Society conference.
“They haven’t got the skills to discuss things, they haven’t got the skills to disagree.”
Mahon added that the shift towards short-form content is a “really dangerous step-change” for young people.
Most mosern social media video feeds (with TikTok being the stand out case) are populated using an algorithm, which suggests videos based on clips users have already seen. Mahon feels this creates something of an echo chamber for Gen Z users, and takes control of what they see, and what they think about it, without offering up alternative viewpoints.
She said: “When the algorithm is in charge, people say they feel emotionally out of control – the immediate dopamine hit fades rapidly and they are left feeling empty.”
What benefits Gen Z can bring to the workplace
Younger generations being bashed by their elders has been going on for centuries, and no doubt in years to come, Gen Z bosses will be discussing the concerns they have about what fresh-faced cohort is entering the workforce.
It also shouldn’t come as a surprise that the head of a major TV network’s big concern about Gen Z is that they’re flocking to social media instead of… television.
And again, social media is arguably not the problem when it comes to enforcing a singular viewpoint - certain TV news channels and print media have been doing that for decades before Twitter/X and TikTok came along.
As Gen Z continues to enter the workforce and assume positions of influence, organisations worldwide are experiencing a shift in common working styles. By 2025, Gen Z is projected to make up 27% of the workforce.
The generation born between the late 1990s and early 2010s is bringing fresh perspectives to the workplace. Is this reshaping the future of work?
Gen Z leaders often possess a strong sense of purpose. Many seek out meaningful work which aligns with their values and can make a positive impact on the world; 32% want to know how their employer invests in responsible and sustainable business, compared to 14% of Gen X and 21% of Millennials. This purpose-driven leadership can inspire and motivate the team around them, fostering a sense of collective purpose and shared goals.
Digital Natives and Tech Fluency
Having grown up in the digital age, members of Gen Z possess an innate familiarity with technology – 83% of this age group report that they actively stay up-to-date with the latest technology and trends. With their tech fluency, they are able to adapt quickly to emerging tools and platforms, enabling efficient collaboration and helping to bring innovation into organisations. They are able to harness the power of digital solutions to solve complex problems, helping organisations to stay ahead of the curve.
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Authenticity and Inclusivity
Many members of Gen Z seek to create a workplace which emphasises collaboration and inclusivity, recognising that diverse perspectives lead to better outcomes.
Research shows that 31% of Gen Z will choose to work for employers who proactively prioritise diversity and inclusion in their workforce, compared to 11% of Gen X and 13% of Millennials. These leaders often encourage open dialogue, actively seek input from team members, and leverage the strengths of each individual to foster an environment where everyone feels valued and heard, enabling effective collaboration.
Gen Z often prioritises authenticity and transparency in their interactions with team members. They value open and honest communication, which fosters trust and creates a supportive work culture. They lead by example, displaying genuine emotions and vulnerability, which often leads to similar behaviours within their teams. This authenticity can build strong relationships, enhances teamwork, and boosts overall employee engagement.
Continuous Learning and Development
Members of Gen Z regularly seek out learning opportunities, both formal and informal, to expand their skill sets and stay ahead of industry trends; 76% see upskilling as key to their career advancement. This thirst for knowledge and continuous personal growth can transfer to team members, and a culture of learning is actively encouraged. This common investment in their growth and that of their team members suggests we can look forward to a high-performing and innovative workforce for years to come.
The ever-changing nature of the modern workplace demands adaptability and agility. Gen Z workers commonly embrace change as an opportunity for growth and innovation.
Organisations can benefit by offering Gen Z a seat at the table, to understand new viewpoints and harness fresh skills, especially in a time characterised by volatility, complexity and rapid change. These skills can be built upon within RADABusiness’ leadership courses, designed to help individuals to reconnect with their teams, showcasing the importance of having a diverse set of skills, values and approaches in order to communicate better across generations and ensure a well-rounded workplace.
Jessica Moores, Head of Open Courses at RADA Business says: “over the past six months, we’ve seen some common themes in the areas of support that Gen Z have been raising, including how to increase their confidence and boost their impact, as well as specific scenarios such as handling challenging conversations. It’s clear that Gen Z are already focussing on their professional development and taking steps to enhance their skills.”