In the rapidly shifting landscape of today’s workplace, where artificial intelligence systems are becoming increasingly entwined with our daily operations, it’s crucial for employers to avoid a significant misstep: treating Gen Z the same as they have treated employees of prior generations. My generation, which is inherently digital, perceives and interacts with technology in ways that are fundamentally different from our predecessors.
AI, particularly generative AI, stands at the frontier of technological evolution, presenting opportunities and challenges that resonate strongly with Gen Z. As digital natives, Gen Z will not only use these tools extensively in the coming years but will also bear the brunt of their impact—both positive and negative. Right now we can see that these tools have seamlessly woven themselves into the fabric of Gen Z’s daily lives just by looking at the ways we engage with everything from social media to our educational pursuits. It’s not just about enjoying an AI-optimized TikTok feed and relying on Khanmigo, Khan Academy’s AI guide, for classes, but also using tools like ChatGPT to fill out multiple job applications at once as a large portion of the generation enters the workforce.
Read More: The 100 Most Influential People in AI
The dynamics of our workforce are rapidly evolving, catalyzed by the strides in AI that are reshaping work life. The recent international U.K. summit on AI safety marked a crucial juncture in AI governance. The Bletchley Declaration, signed by 28 countries and the European Union, exemplifies a growing consciousness around the potential and perils of frontier AI—a loosely defined term encompassing both powerful generative models and the broader concept of generalized AI. This global agreement, along with President Biden’s executive order on trustworthy AI, underscores the urgency of preparing for an AI-centric future. These developments are not just political maneuvers or regulatory frameworks; they are acknowledgments of a transformative shift that Gen Z will inherit and further shape.
This generational shift underscores the necessity for employers and corporations to evolve. It’s not merely about compliance with new regulations or adopting AI for its own sake. Gen Z’s instinctive relationship with technology makes us an invaluable asset. There should be an urgency to capitalize on our potential in a rapidly evolving, AI-augmented economy. To do so, companies must step beyond traditional frameworks and cultivate environments where Gen Z’s digital fluency is transformed into a competitive advantage.
To adapt, companies must:
Integrate AI awareness when recruiting Gen Z
For Gen Z employees, who may leverage tools like ChatGPT for tasks such as preparing job applications and in interviews, it’s crucial to train existing HR and recruiting teams in recognizing the nuances of AI assistance. This awareness, for example, can help these teams devise interview strategies that accurately assess a candidate’s true capabilities (or instead a candidate’s AI-assisted capabilities).
Establish robust AI accuracy standards for Gen Z’s high AI usage
With Gen Z expected to extensively use generative AI tools in their work, companies need to develop robust processes for identifying and correcting AI inaccuracies. This involves setting up verification systems that cross-reference AI-generated content with trusted databases, maintaining factual integrity across all organizational outputs. Such measures are crucial as Gen Z integrates AI tools into various aspects of their work, ensuring the quality and authenticity of the content they produce.
Strategically redirect Gen Z’s labor
Utilize the efficiency gains from AI automation to enable Gen Z employees to contribute to strategic initiatives like R&D or market expansion. As AI assistants like Zoom’s new AI-generated meeting notes and productivity integrations take over routine tasks like note-taking and post-meeting agendas, management should redirect the time saved into more innovative activities, such as product development. This approach also aligns with Gen Z’s preference for more meaningful work.
Effectively addressing the challenges employers face in today’s digital landscape goes beyond merely deploying AI technologies. It demands a customized approach to integration that aligns with (and perhaps capitalizes on) the unique characteristics of the Gen Z demographic. By developing an inclusive AI adoption strategy, companies not only empower Gen Z professionals but also invigorate their workplace culture. This approach solidifies a company’s competitive edge in an economy that is becoming ever more reliant on AI.
Kiara Nirghin is a scientist and inventor. She was featured on TIME’s list of the Most Influential Teens in 2016.
- Inside the White House Program to Share America's Secrets
- Meet the 2024 Women of the Year
- East Palestine, One Year After Train Derailment
- The Closers: 18 People Working to End the Racial Wealth Gap
- Long COVID Doesn’t Always Look Like You Think It Does
- Column: The New Antisemitism
- The 13 Best New Books to Read in March
- Want Weekly Recs on What to Watch, Read, and More? Sign Up for Worth Your Time