Cover art by Erka Inciong

A shift in workplace dynamics is underway as more and more members of Generation Z enter the workforce. These youngsters, born roughly between the late 1990s and the early 2010s, have values and attitudes that can be vastly different from and surprisingly similar to those of the cohorts that came before them — the millennials, Gen Xers, and baby boomers.

In the third leg of Spark Series 2019, held last March 14, the Gen-Z students of San Beda University in Manila gathered at Pamanang Bedista Heritage Center where three industry experts dished out important insights into their generation’s characteristics and nuggets of advice on navigating the world of work and dealing with older folks.

Starting off the talks was Bianca Eleisse Eyales, associate consultant at Acumen Strategy Consultants, who presented fascinating findings of her firm’s study of Gen Zers. According to that 2018 study, the world of Gen Zers is ultra connected, operates at hyper-speed, and is big and expansive.

Members of Generation Z use the Internet for hours to access information and socialize, and they want everything instant and fast, including feedback. They get bored easily when they’re offline and think they express themselves better online than in person. They also have a thirst for learning.

The study also discovered their emerging mindset. Gen Zers have a mature, hyper-empowered mindset, enjoying life responsibly and preferring experience to material possessions. They’re champions of change, who believe they have the power to shape the future. They filter what they see and believe. They pursue purpose and meaning, and value authenticity.

“One thing that Gen Zers themselves should do as they enter the workforce is to be self-aware of how your generation is different in your approaches and your mindset,” Ms. Eyales said.

But they must also be mindful of the fraught gap between generations in the workplace. “There’s always a tension inside the office especially when you deal with people from different generations, different backgrounds, and with different beliefs,” Ken Lerona, head of marketing and corporate communications at Entrego, a logistics solutions provider, said.

“We have to open our minds… To me, it’s our closed minds that keep us from understanding each other and making our lives more harmonious,” he said. Some of the questions he suggested that people should ask to understand those around them include deceptively simple ones like “What makes you happy or sad?” and “What are your dreams and fears?”

Learning to understand and respect one another is a key to bridging the gap, according to Mr. Lerona. “No generation is better than the other. We’re not better than the generation ahead of us. Neither is the generation ahead of us better than us. Let us learn to make the most from our generations’ strengths and weaknesses,” he told the audience.

Meanwhile, Miguel de Vera, head of strategic initiatives at Energy Development Corp., the largest producer of geothermal energy in the country, gave the audience the lowdown on the destructive effects of climate change — which every inhabitant of this planet must concern himself or herself with — and how renewable energy sources will help make the future sustainable for their generation.

“We can all help energize our future by being part of a workforce the upholds sustainability at all times, by adopting a low-carbon lifestyle and by using your voice to make a stand against practices that harm our planet and our future,” he said.

The third leg of Spark Series 2019 at San Beda University was presented by BusinessWorld SparkUp and Energy Development Corporation, together with Acumen Strategy Consultants and J. Legaspi Computer Graphics (JLCG), in partnership with San Beda University, with media partners Philippine Star and ONE News, and organization partner Management and Entrepreneurship Society.