Younger workers lack communication skills – Poll

Younger workers lack collaboration skills including communication, team working and critical thinking, creating barriers to collaborative working in business according to a recent poll by recruiter Robert Walters.

Despite being IT literate and proficient, the poll identifies that 37% of Gen Z workers do not enjoy working in a team setting; with almost half stating that they ‘work better alone.’

41% of managers identified that Gen Z lack “adequate” communication skills while 33% said that they struggled to foster team working and critical thinking (21%) from younger workers.

Gen Z is the name given to people born between 1997 and 2012 and currently make up just under 1/5th of the total population.

Remote and hybrid working has been a longstanding discussion in the legal services sector where firms have identified lost opportunities to nurture talent and encourage a culture of “learning by osmosis” by being in an office environment surrounded by more experienced colleagues.

Financial services have started to place expectations on staff to return to the office, while most law firms adopt a hybrid policy, but are increasingly expecting staff to be in a set number of days per week.

The issue is exacerbated by the challenge of a mix of contractual requirements with staff on office-based working contracts, and those who were recruited during and post-pandemic often on home-based working contracts.

Chris Poole,  Managing Director of Robert Walters comments:

“Gen Z’s have the potential to revolutionise our ways of working and business practices, but workplaces risk standing still or going backward unless they understand how to bring the best out of this cohort.

“Every one of us has weaknesses in our professional skillset, and so it is unfair to focus on what ‘isn’t working’ with younger workers – what about their strengths?

“Young workers possess a unique set of skills and characteristics shaped by their upbringing and experiences. Understanding these strengths – and adapting to this – can ultimately lead to a more productive and successful workforce.”

Further analysis of the results suggests that managers should be harnessing Gen Z’s ability to communicate through digital channels, with 40% saying junior workers were “comfortable” with various digital communication tools such as instant messaging, video conferencing, and collaboration platforms.

Chris adds:

“Gen Z’s ability to communicate effectively in virtual environments is valuable in today’s increasingly remote and digital work settings – in particular with the emergence of AI and the potential this generation brings in teaching older workers the benefits of this.

“However it is apparent that in-person communication and team-working needs to be built upon if we are to get the very best out of a multi-generational workforce and help Gen Z professionals to fully thrive in the workplace.”

Adding that firms should consider scaling back home working, provide additional training, encourage cross-generational collaboration and foster a culture of mentoring and implementing regular feedback and progress reviews.

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