Why Gen-Z Is Turning To Social Media To Expose Toxic Workplace Cultures
In previous generations, the corporate culture was whatever the branding and communications department put out there about a company. Gen-Z is the first generation to turn to social media to share their work experiences–the good, the bad, and the toxic. It’s giving employees a voice while also changing the way companies build a reputation for themselves. By 2025 27% of the workforce will be Gen-Z, and just like when Millennials entered the workforce, there are a lot of misconceptions about what Gen-Z really wants.
The Gen-Zers who are entering the workforce right now were in grade school during the Great Recession. They watched their parents get laid off, work several part-time jobs and live paycheck to paycheck. They watched Millennials struggle with student debt for an education that no longer guaranteed success or stability. Don’t forget the pandemic and our current economic uncertainty. They’ve been watching all of this, and they’re determined not to repeat the same mistakes.
They’re digital natives and have spent their entire lives with technology and social media, which means they’re used to living life online and having lots of information right at their fingertips. Gen-Zers spend an average of 18 minutes reading reviews before they make a purchase. They don’t simply take a company’s words at face value; they want proof from unbiased sources. This is how they’re approaching their careers.
Gen-Zers want what we all want: a high salary, supportive managers, great benefits and perks but these things aren’t worth working long hours, earning a wage that barely pays the rent, and being micromanaged or disrespected by a manager. Companies need to make repairing a toxic workplace a priority and create processes to prevent history from repeating itself. Not just for Gen-Zers but for everyone.
To repair a toxic workplace, start with transparency.
Transparency isn’t about telling everyone what you think the moment you think it. Transparency is a two-way process of communication in which employees and management openly and honestly discuss company operations, performance and feedback and the overall values of the business.
Here’s a 3-step process to create more transparency at your organization:
Step 1. Building Trust
Stephen Covey says, “Trust is confidence born of two dimensions: character and competence.” Character is your intent. How do you see and treat other people? Competence is your capabilities and the results you provide. You build trust by doing what you say you’re going to do in an ethical and thoughtful way. Gen-Z wants authenticity and honesty at work, which means leaders have to make trust-building an objective and work towards building it every single day.
Step 2. Lead With Integrity
While competence is the reason why you’re a leader, your character and how you see yourself, and how you treat the people around you are also needed for transparency. Leading with integrity is knowing your values and making decisions according to those values. One way to lead with integrity (and build trust) is by transparently sharing why a decision is being made. Gen-Zers are entrepreneurial and want to feel a sense of ownership which is why they want to understand the decision-making process.
Step 3. Improve Communication
Many Gen-Zers started their professional careers remotely, which means creating effective communication is key. While it may seem like Gen-Zers would prefer to communicate only via text or Slack, that’s not the case. This generation understands they need in-person communication and opportunities in order to succeed. The first step is finding out from your Gen-Z employee how they want to communicate as well as what kinds of opportunities they need to improve their communication skills, like mentoring.
When employees feel seen, heard and understood, as well as a part of a bigger mission, they are less likely to turn to social media to share their negative work experiences. It starts with transparency.