At the Workplace

Why do Gen Zs seem to “ghost” older colleagues?

Why are Gen Zs unresponsive when older, more senior colleagues send messages to them on messaging platforms? Aren’t Gen Zs digital natives? Why are they “ghosting” us? The older colleagues see it as somewhat rude and unprofessional. Please help us understand them!

Boomer

At The Well

Li Ping says

Dear Boomer,

Researchers are not uniform in categorising generations, so I use the definition of Gen Zs as those born between 1997 and 2012 used by The Generations Project (read more at www.methodist.org.sg/methodist-message/clashing-generations-intergenerational-challenges-in-the-church/). I do not presume to be an expert on Gen Zs, so my response comes from an informal check with some Gen Zs and those who work with them.

Their lack of responsiveness is unlikely to be due to real “ghosting” as that refers to a more permanent, complete and abrupt ending of all communication. Rather, there could be several other reasons. The most common I hear is that they may not know how to respond, whether it is being unclear about what is being asked, or not knowing the right response, and being too shy to seek clarification. Another reason is, being the digital natives that they are, they may have been distracted by other tasks (or messages) and forgotten to respond. Yet another reason includes receiving messages on a platform they may not use as much, or at a time of day when they are not ready to respond. It could also be that they are not assuming that it is critical to reply to every message.

If you do not receive a reply, you can try to “bump” the message by asking again, and it will force them to remember to reply. It may also help to clarify your and your senior colleagues’ expectations of responsiveness from your Gen Z colleagues (e.g. respond within the hour, ask if you do not understand, etc

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