Gen Z's outspokenness is one of their ‘greatest strengths' in the workplace, says psychologist—here's why

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Gen Z isn't shy about speaking up and advocating for issues they care about in the workplace, whether it's salary transparency or mental health. 

This boldness might unsettle HR leaders and bosses — some have called Gen Z the "most difficult" generation to work with — but it can also be a valuable asset for the youngest members of the workforce. 

That's at least according to Dr. Benjamin Granger, chief workplace psychologist and head of EX (employee experience) advisory services at Qualtrics.

"Gen Z's greatest strength is that they're more likely than other generations to challenge the status quo," Granger says. "Those conversations and those experiences are where innovation and creativity happen." 

Twenty-somethings challenging workplace norms set by their elders is a longstanding trend, but Granger says there's a new confidence and consideration in the way Gen Zers approach these conversations. 

One of Gen Z's defining characteristics is their strong sense of social and environmental responsibility.

They're vocal about creating equitable, sustainable workplaces, Granger points out, and are willing to challenge employers to be more accountable for their impact on employees and society at large where others might not. 

When younger employees encourage their organizations to shift away from corporate neutrality to a more open expression of values, it can lead to more efficient processes, happier employees and better products, Granger adds. 

Research has found that having a proactive attitude and speaking up is generally linked with positive career outcomes, including a higher chance of promotion and stronger relationships with co-workers. 

"But such feedback isn't always going to be positively perceived by executives, who might be frustrated with employees breaking long-held norms," says Granger. 

Younger professionals can avoid — or minimize — any negative repercussions by doing their homework before raising an issue.

Granger's advice? Consider whether your manager or colleague can realistically take action on your suggestion, accounting for time or resource constraints, and if your opinion can help the team or organization be more successful, not exclusively benefit you as the employee. 

For these conversations to be truly effective, he adds, leaders need to create an environment where feedback is encouraged and solicited.

"Giving and receiving feedback can unlock different parts of you that you didn't even know existed and benefit your professional growth," says Granger. "Gen Zers, by embracing and initiating these conversations as much as they are, are catalyzing this growth in themselves." 

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