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NextGen Magazine


Workplace Strategist: Leaders Must Heed What Younger Workers Share on Social Media

S.J. Steinhardt
Published Date:
Jul 28, 2023

Younger workers are sharing their work stories online, and leaders had better pay attention, workplace culture strategist Jennifer Moss wrote in Fast Company.

Gen Zers and younger millennials use social media as a platform to discuss real and perceived injustice, she wrote. They start and follow trends, using hashtags such as #QuietQuitting, #RageApplying, #QuitTok, #QuietFiring, #BareMinimumMondays, and #ActYourWage to voice their concerns about work.

TikTok boasts one billion users, primarily women and members of Gen Z, with 60 percent of users between the ages of 16 and 24, Moss noted. Only 11 percent of TikTok users are over 50, and their engagement is relatively low. The average age of a Fortune 1000 CEO is 59, and 93.6 percent of them are men, causing Moss to observe that “only a fraction of leaders who make policies that impact the day-to-day experience of workers are listening in.”

Many TikTok creators document their daily experiences and post them on the platform. Hashtags such as #CorporateTikTok and #WorkTok garner billions of views. That provides “an opportunity for leaders to strategically use data to bridge connections across the divides,” Moss wrote.

Another hashtag, #QuitTok, features people live-streaming their resignations. “The trend offers real-life case studies of why people quit,” Moss explained. “By tracking themes, leaders … gain enormous insights by tracking the journey of a person feeling frustrated and quitting.” She advised leaders to respond to this trend by listening and learning, accepting, and increasing psychological safety.

The hashtag #RageApplying started in In December 2022, when a TikTok creator posted, “I got mad at work and I rage applied to 15 jobs.” She landed a job that came with a $25,000 raise. That caused the trend to spread.

While the "blasting résumés” approach to job applications is not a new phenomenon, the ability to amplify a message through social media is. “The persistent messaging that changing jobs has a financial upside has emboldened already disengaged workers to take the leap,” Moss wrote.

To stem talent loss, Moss suggested that managers conduct “stay interviews” that ask employees pointed questions to see if there is anything that can be done to retain them and make them more productive. She advised not conducting such interviews if no action can be taken, adding that  many of the outstanding and unstated issues may be easy to fix.

Leaders need to listen to viral social trends such as these to promote a positive work environment, she wrote, but she found that many ignore the needs of certain groups, risking their loss to an organization that cares more.

Moss cited data to support her assertion: 73 percent of all employees want to have flexibility when it comes to where they work, a recent World Economic Forum report found, but half of employers require their employees to be in the office full time, a Microsoft Work Trend study found. She noted that employers may not be applying this data; 77 percent of Gen Z workers would look for another job if their employer asked them to be on site full time, a Deloitte study of over 22,000 global employees found.

“By 2025, Gen Z is estimated to make up 27 percent of the workforce and one-third of the Earth’s population,” Moss wrote. “Companies that don’t accept this global shift in the way Gen Z wants to work will struggle to survive.”

“Teams that accept that with new generations come new ways to communicate and connect gain an advantage," Moss wrote in conclusion. "With workplace trends proliferating via social media, we have more data and listening power than we’ve ever had in history. I believe we can make our workplaces better, healthier, more harmonious while increasing profitability, productivity, and engagement. Often it’s the fear of embracing new things that keeps us stuck in the past. And no great leader wants that.”