7 things to know about Generation Z patients, workers

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With Generation Z — commonly defined as those born between 1995 and 2012 — now flooding into the workforce, businesses, managers and their potential coworkers must be prepared for the changes these digital natives will usher into the workplace, the economy and society as a whole.

Over the next decade, Gen Z will bring an estimated 61 million new employees to the workplace, many of whom have never known a world without the internet, smartphones and near-instant access to any product or piece of information they want. This transition may be so jarring, in fact, that a new field has been created to help employers best serve their youngest employees: generational consultant.

Here are seven things to know about working with and for this new generation of workers, patients and consumers:

1. They're dissatisfied with current healthcare offerings: Across four aspects of healthcare delivery, Generation Z was more likely than any of the previous four generations to express dissatisfaction. The cohort expressed the most dissatisfaction of all surveyed by Accenture in the effectiveness, convenience, transparency and efficiency of care delivery.

2. They're mobile-first: Not only do members of Generation Z rely on tiny phone screens to do everything from watch movies to conduct business, but they also prefer using their phones to manage their healthcare. A recent survey found that more than 15 percent of Gen Z uses mobile apps to manage their health and fitness, while another 11 percent would do so if offered by a physician, topping both millennials and baby boomers.

3. They're not anti-brick-and-mortar: Though undoubtedly digital natives, Gen Z is not opposed to in-person experiences. In fact, a recent report found that the generation was more likely than any other to agree with the statement that an in-person experience "allows me to disconnect from social media and the digital world."

4. They need lots of guidance: While millennials were once heralded as the "participation trophy" generation, Gen Z actually requires even more hands-on treatment and near-constant feedback than their older siblings, Jean Twenge, PhD, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University, told Becker's.

"In many ways, [Gen Z] is good news for managers — they are a cautious, hard-working generation who want to build careers in a stable environment. However, they will need more guidance and reassurance than millennials to reach their goals," Dr. Twenge said. "Managers who learned to be cheerleaders for millennials will find they are more like therapists, life coaches or parents for [Gen Z]."

5. They're seeking healthcare professions: In the National Society of High School Scholars' 2018 Career Interest Survey, almost 40 percent of the Gen Z high schoolers surveyed said they expect to work in medicine or a health-related field. Additionally, respondents ranked Memphis, Tenn.-based St. Jude Children's Research Hospital as their No. 1 dream employer — ahead of Amazon, Google and Netflix — with local hospitals, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic all making the top 15.

6. Their communication skills need work: While they can send a text in the blink of an eye and juggle direct messages across multiple social media platforms, Gen Z lacks training in the art of the formal phone call and email. In fact, many high schools and employers are now offering the cohort training sessions in email and phone etiquette to better prepare them for their careers.

7. They're stressed about health insurance: A recent survey of millennial and Gen Z employees found that they were more likely than previous generations to be stressed about selecting health benefits. Additionally, 63 percent of Gen Z employees surveyed said medical billing is stressful.

To address these stresses, many members of Gen Z are looking for guidance from the sources with which they're most comfortable: social media. There has been a recent surge in the use of Gen Z-dominated social networking app TikTok to dispense and share medical advice, including information about various health conditions and tips for dealing with medical bills.

More articles on consumerism:
AMA: 10 things to know about patient access to digital health records
OhMD offers patient texting platform for free to prevent spread of coronavirus
Gates Foundation rushing development of tech-driven at-home coronavirus tests

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