The View from Latin America: Gen Z’s Thoughts on Workplace Issues

For the past three years or so, couches have been working centers. WhatsApp became the ultimate communication platform and people began to ask themselves, how long should I stay in a company whose culture I don’t like? These are legacy pandemic scenarios. So is workplace violence. 
It turns out that there are aspects that, in theory, arose with the pandemic and new labor regulations, such as NOM-037 on health and safety conditions for teleworking in Mexico, made them visible. Stress, burnout, and even issues perceived as workplace violence afflict 10% of the working population in Mexico, according to the Mercer Marsh Psychosocial Wellbeing Report. But generations talk about this phenomenon differently and how it affects their daily performance differs. Today, I’d like to focus on Gen Z. 
How Gen Z Feels About Workplace Issues 
Gen Z, the youngest generation in the workplace, is experiencing a growing concern about workplace violence in their work environments, reflected in acts such as psychological harassment and verbal aggression, according to the analysis “Violence in the Workplace: Generational Differences” prepared by Midot, a firm focused on integrity assessment and workplace safety solutions. 
This type of violence is defined as incidents in which a person suffers abuse, threats, or attacks in circumstances related to their work, and it’s a phenomenon that impacts two million workers annually, according to estimates by the World Health Organization. 
The analysis compiled data from 25,528 candidates in 14 Latin American countries and revealed important differences. Gen Z, which includes those born after 2000, perceive more workplace violence, but also show a greater inclination to forgive offenses if they understand the underlying reasons. 
This generation is commonly referred to as having unique values and sensibilities. Perhaps that results in a different perspective on workplace issues. What is a fact is that the more digital an employee is, the more accustomed they are to finding what they need on their own, and the more apt they are to question why a leader of another generation is not attentive to the issues that cause them violence. 
One conclusion reached by this analysis focuses precisely on the fact that the independence that characterizes Gen Z makes them more likely to question traditional structures. Also, to seek collaboration and flexibility as their key performance schemes, contrary to feeling harassed or violated by facts such as, that in the work environment, equity is not respected, digital disconnection, their time away from work. 
Older generations may be less attuned to these issues and therefore less likely to perceive them as “workplace violence.” According to the analysis, 70% of Gen Z believes it is crucial to support identity-related causes, which has led to a higher level of concern for human rights, issues of race, ethnicity, LGBTQIA+ rights, and feminism, compared with generations such as Gen X and baby boomers. 
Gen Z Believes in Forgiveness 
Another interesting aspect is the perception about different acts of violence. This data is valuable because an act such as “cheating” seems to be more of an issue justified by a baby boomer boss than by a Gen Z worker. 
The research found that Gen Z is more likely to believe that people would take the right opportunity to bribe, steal, or cheat — referring to their belief that leaders of other ages are more dishonest. However, what is interesting and contrasting, is that, although Gen Z workers may perceive more violence, what they think should be done to solve this problem is different. 
Instead of believing in punishment, they believe in the act of forgiveness. The study found that 45% of Gen Z would be willing to forgive these offenses for the “good” of their careers, compared with only 10% of Gen X. 
There is a contradiction of sorts. While it may appear that Gen Z places a greater emphasis on morals than previous generations, the reality is not so clear. Gen Z workers admit five times more that they spend at least two hours a day surfing the internet for non-work related matters (e.g., spending time on sites that don’t benefit work tasks), which can be perceived as “harmful” to the company. 
What is a fact is that Gen Z prioritizes harmony and collaboration in the workplace and believes that forgiveness is necessary to maintain positive relationships with coworkers. They also have a more nuanced understanding of power dynamics in the workplace and recognize that holding grudges could ultimately hurt their own career paths. 
How to Work Effectively with Gen Z 
First and foremost, recognize Gen Z workers’ collaborative, flexible, and pragmatic approaches to work, along with their preferences for direct communication, authenticity, relevance, and self-care. 
Also, recognizing the impact of workplace violence on the health and wellbeing of workers allows you to take steps to prevent and respond to it. So, identifying how this issue is experienced helps to create safer and more productive workplaces for all workers, not just Gen Z. Applying a survey, observing, mapping, and documenting also helps to make changes and is a shared responsibility. 
Lastly, address workplace violence with a multifaceted approach, including education and training on prevention and response strategies, policies, and procedures that support worker safety.