Dawn Janssen and I researched how 18-24-year-olds are adjusting to workplace technology conventions. Our respondents are handling things a lot differently than we (and the literature) expected. Thanks to ASU News for writing about the findings, which are out in IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication now!
The abstract is here:
Background: People born between 1995 and 2012, referred to as Generation Z, grew up alongside significant technological advancements in communication. This cohort’s oldest members are now entering the workforce.
Literature review: Although the merits of generational research have been questioned, Generation Z’s personal communication preferences and habits demonstrate unprecedented technological experiences and expectations in the workplace.
Research questions: 1. What are Generation Z’s current habits in using smart technology, social media, and voice communication for personal communication? 2. How does the current workplace communication environment appear through the lens of Generation Z? 3. Do the personal communication habits of Generation Z conflict with current workplaces?
Methodology: The study reports on a 207-participant exploratory survey and 6 interviews with Generation Z members in January–March 2020. The survey included multiple choice and open-ended questions regarding respondents’ personal and workplace communication habits and expectations. The interviews allowed further investigation of survey responses.
Results: Working Generation Z respondents hold unexpected attitudes and behaviors, including awareness of the negatives of technology use, differences in personal preferences and professional behaviors, self-regulation of technology use, and concern for boundaries between personal and work life.
Conclusion: Generation Z’s ability to adapt to current workplace norms may slow changes in workplace communication. Their awareness of disruptive communication habits could make positive changes to workplace communication in the future. Employers should resist negative generational stereotypes and develop new communication policies to reflect current and future-looking technology use. This study was completed prior to COVID-19 and does not include pandemic-related workplace technology changes.