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Gen Z: redefining the workplace?

Chehui Peh and Aza Wee | Special to
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Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Employers just aren't ready for Generation Z's workplace demands, according to around 47 percent of existing employees, a new study found.

Existing staff believe that Gen Z, now aged 14 to 19, will push for greater work-life balance, increased workplace flexibility and more rapid advancement opportunities, than older generations, a report this week by Randstad Workmonitor shows.

Born four years after the invention of the internet, Gen Z is considered a hyper tech-savvy generation, making up about 28.6 percent of the population worldwide, or around 2 billion people, according to a demographics survey by global automaker Ford.

With this generation of employees poised to enter the workforce in the next five years, employers face an "incredibly diverse workforce," with ages ranging from the late teens to people nearing retirement, says Jaya Dass, Associate Director of Randstad.

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"[There will be] different employment expectations [for] every generation. Understanding these [demands and] motivations will be key for employers to effectively manage these workers and successfully integrate them into their multi-generational workforce," she said.

Multi-generational workplace

It's a situation that becomes trickier as older workers are staying in the workplace longer, the Randstad Workmonitor study noted.

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"Mentor programs to encourage communication and collaboration can help with retention," says Christine Wright, Managing Director in Asia of recruitment agency Hays, adding the need to transfer skills from the existing workforce is crucial to avoid a skills vacuum.

The training is a two-way street.

One of Gen Z's big advantages is the ability to comprehend the complexities of social media and businesses migrating toward digital technology.

For example, within Singapore, "the current workforce already trying to upgrade the [technology] skills of the older generation, so that it will be more aligned," said Krystal Lim, a recruiter at Huxley.

But Gen Z's technological edge could become a double-edged sword.

"Younger people rely too much on technology and communication [leading to] less opportunity to build strong relationships," Lim said.

Even Gen Z-ers concede it's a concern. Filipino Moses Isaiah Palces, 19, admits that the overreliance of technology can be a problem, as there may be the tendency to "forget how work was done the traditional way [without the internet]."