Gen-Z, Startups, and the Art of Collaboration in Modern Work Culture

Let’s establish a fact. A fact that we can all see playing out before our very eyes; the current generation of the workforce will rather, literally, go build their ‘sh*t’, crash and burn, catch a break than go into preexisting organizations, and there is evidence for that. This article highlights 10 Nigerian Gen Z startups, and there’s more. 

It is often said that it is better to be a small part of something big than to be a big part of something small. So, collaboration is vital. A quality that has been paraded that Gen-Zs lack. Only that if we take a closer look, they actually collaborate but it’s only with a kind of people. After all, some of them have gone on to build multi-million brands. They have results. 

It is clear that there is a divide between the priorities of existing and the new workforce. It is not far-fetched at all. We all just care about different things in different ways. For instance, when Gen-Zs consider whether or not to join a company, they are interested in how fat the check is but they are more interested in the company culture. They care about their mental state and they are very open about it. If you want to work with them, that should be your first consideration. That is their appeal. Anything anti, puuf! They’re gone! Some older folks didn’t really mind if their company culture was shitty. They went through it nonetheless, not these new folks. 

One of the reasons why it appears that Gen-Zs lack the ability to collaborate with traditional institutions is mistrust. Gen-Zs have grown up in a time of unprecedented access to information, thanks to the internet and social media. Sholape from Western Nigeria can get quality information about the educational system in Finland with a Google search. Nnamdi from downtown South can now receive foreign currencies on his mobile wallet while the traditional banking system is actively out to make sure that doesn’t happen. The same applies to other institutions. It is only natural to want an ailing situation to improve. What happens if you can’t? 

Gen-Zs have in fact proven that they do not lack the ability to collaborate. They just want to know that they can trust you. If they have not seen your track record of being trustworthy, they would rather take a walk and either collaborate with people within their generational gap or seek out companies that are flexible enough to cater to them. 

Tallo conducted a survey in 2021 and it is no surprise that the biggest adopters of the Gen-Z workforce are Tech companies. This is quite visible in Nigeria as technological startups are fast on the rise and they look like an escape from the traditional institutions. Innovation runs on talent, and for tech companies to maintain their A game, they need talents. Currently, that’s Gen-Z. They practically grew up with the internet as part of their daily life. They are proficient with it and their execution rate is beyond par. 

There is an obvious question here; if tech companies have proven to work well with Gen Z and their demands, why haven’t other institutions been able to do so? 

There are certain factors that contribute to how tech companies retain these talents. Clearly, a fat check isn’t enough. The king of all factors is the company culture. Company culture is everything from the purpose of a company to how everyone within the company works together to achieve it. Tech companies have succeeded in attracting this new breed of talent because of their flexibility in meeting their demands as long as they fit the required roles. Some of their demands include; work-life balance, autonomy, reasonable pay above minimum wage, and an inclusive psychologically safe environment. 

Work-life balance

Different generations, different priorities. While Gen-Zs remain very ambitious, a large percentage of them are just not interested in climbing your corporate ladder and investing all of their lives in working. They want to be able to do the things that pay their bills and the things that give them a sense of being. Companies that overlap these two areas are their safe haven. 

Autonomy

Contrary to the opinion that Gen-Zs lack structure, Forbes Council member, Kiran Mann, wrote here that they just prefer autonomy and independence to let their creative juice flow. They do not do well in companies with inflexible structures and they are not afraid to leave for better options. In a survey of 6,900 individuals aged 13 to 25, 82% expressed a preference for working under a supervisor who offers them guidance. So, while they crave autonomy, they also want to be guided. Think of a long, loose rein. It is a rein, but it’s long and free, that’s how tech companies have been able to retain them. 

Reasonable pay 

Gen-Zs are not just obsessed with money, they are only looking out for themselves. They’ve grown up to watch their parents struggle with money amidst turbulent economies. Now, they are graduating from college and are being tossed into their own world. Times have changed but despite the recent global layoffs in tech companies, they are well known for their massive revenue and that’s why Gen-Z are comfortable there. They want to be financially secure and not repeat the mistakes of their parents. 

Psychologically safe environment

Gen-Zs value psychological safety in the workplace as it fosters a culture of trust, authenticity, and the ability to freely relay their intentions. They want to be comfortable in challenging up or down the ladder in the workplace without the fear of being ridiculed, shunned, or canceled. This is a contrast with the older generations as they are known to be more orderly and hierachy focused. Tech companies are creating these environments for the emerging workforce and it’s been producing results. Prioritizing these environments in other traditional institutions is a good way to collaborate with Gen-Z and the energy they bring into their work. 

Alvin Toffler is credited with saying: “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” The Tech companies are obviously doing something right and for what it’s worth, other industries should take a cue from them.

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