In a recent survey conducted by global recruitment firm Robert Walters, it has been revealed that a significant portion of young workers express a preference for working alone rather than in a team environment.

The findings shed light on the evolving dynamics in the modern workplace as Generation Z professionals enter the workforce, bringing both strengths and challenges to the table.

Working Alone Preferred by Half of Young Workers

The survey, which included responses from young professionals and managers, highlighted a growing trend among younger workers. A staggering 50 percent of Gen Z professionals claimed that they “work better alone,” suggesting a preference for solo work over collaborative efforts.

Furthermore, 37 percent of young workers expressed a dislike for working in team environments, underscoring the changing dynamics of workplace interactions among the newest generation of employees.

Decline in Collaborative Working

Managers surveyed in the study also voiced concerns about the decline in collaborative working since the entry of Generation Z into the workplace. Approximately two-thirds (62%) of managers reported a decline in collaborative working, citing Gen Z’s perceived lack of communication skills (41%) as a primary barrier to effective teamwork.

Communication Skills and Critical Thinking Lacking

The study further revealed that 41 percent of managers felt that Generation Z professionals lacked adequate communication skills, while 33 percent believed they faced challenges in team working. Additionally, 21 percent of managers identified a lack of critical thinking skills among younger workers as a key barrier to successful collaboration.

Implications for Companies

These findings present a significant challenge for companies striving to integrate five generations into a hybrid working environment. Chris Poole, Managing Director of Robert Walters, commented on the situation, noting that Gen Z workers possess unique skills and characteristics shaped by their upbringing and experiences. Poole emphasised the importance of understanding and harnessing these strengths to create a more productive and successful workforce.

Hidden Talent in Technology Proficiency

Despite the noted challenges, the survey also highlighted some positive aspects of Generation Z’s abilities. Gen Z professionals demonstrated a high level of proficiency in using digital communication tools, with 40 percent of managers expressing their satisfaction with the younger workforce’s ease in navigating various digital platforms, such as instant messaging, video conferencing, and collaboration tools.

Balancing Digital and In-Person Communication

Chris Poole stressed the need for a balanced approach, suggesting that while Gen Z’s virtual communication skills were valuable, in-person communication and team collaboration should not be neglected. He noted that the multi-generational workforce could benefit from Gen Z’s expertise in virtual communication, especially in the context of emerging technologies.

Addressing Inter-Generational Conflict

The study also highlighted inter-generational conflicts as a contributor to employee turnover, with a quarter of workers attributing their decision to leave their jobs to clashes with colleagues over ways of working.

Recommendations for Companies

Chris Poole offered several recommendations for companies seeking to address these challenges and improve the soft skills needed by Generation Z employees:

  1. Scale Back Remote Work: Companies should consider reducing remote work to encourage more face-to-face collaboration and communication among employees.
  2. Provide Training: Soft skills development, such as problem-solving and leadership, should be incorporated into training and development programs from onboarding through a Gen Z employee’s career trajectory.
  3. Mentorship Programs: Establish mentorship programs pairing Gen Z employees with experienced professionals within the company to provide guidance and share expertise.
  4. Cross-Generational Collaboration: Encourage collaboration between Gen Z employees and individuals from other generations to foster the exchange of ideas and perspectives.
  5. Feedback and Performance Reviews: Offer constructive feedback during performance reviews, focusing on both tangible results and soft skills improvement.
  6. Hire the Right Leaders: Select leaders who can understand the needs and strengths of multiple generations in the workforce and nurture a collaborative environment.

As companies adapt to the changing dynamics of the modern workplace, understanding and harnessing the potential of Generation Z professionals may prove essential for success in a rapidly evolving business landscape.






Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.