Gen Z Negatives Are Positives

May 25, 2022

Why Gen Z stereotypes are strengths that will push the industry forward

About the author:

Clarence Wittwer is the owner and chief operating officer of Wittwer Environmental. He can be reached at [email protected].

So, you read the April installment and, here you are again! Last month we talked about the many ways that Gen Z makes the perfect candidate to target for recruitment to replace our retiring workforce. Primarily, this generation was born into tech, which means the Internet of Things (IoT) that is still so new and fancy to the older Gen X workers (yours truly) and Boomers, is a part of the everyday life of Gen Z. It is in their Smart Home, their car, their eyeglasses, their ear buds, their robotic vacuums and so much more. While they tap their eye wear to ask Alexa the weather, we shake our fists at those darned kids to get off of our lawns.

Just as an aside...half of you laughed, the other half went to your window to make sure that the kids were in fact, not on your lawn. It’s ok, I was looking out from behind the curtains too.

So, we have probably gone too far into the weeds on the technological advantage of Gen Z when it comes to our workforce, but what of the human aspect? Sure, there are a ton of negative stereotypes out there about Gen Z, one of the most prolific is that they have a short attention span. Fortunately for us, this has actually been proven in numerous studies including a 2019 study by that showed Gen Z had an average attention span of eight seconds, which is four seconds less than their Millennial counterparts. In the article titled “5 Negative Stereotypes About Gen Z That Will Actually Help Them in The Workplace” ( October, 2019) Sharon Uche asserts that this could be an advantage because it encourages them to communicate effectively and concisely.

Imagine staff meetings in local government as well as city council meetings where everyone just cuts through the fluff and gets to the point! That is a meeting ending at 7 p.m. instead of midnight.

Another negative that Gen Z will use to thrive in our industry is multi-tasking. That‘s right, thanks to multiple social media platforms, email and other modern miracles of tech, this generation thrives in chaos. They will lead the way in any hectic office.

We also touched briefly last month on how Gen Z can be considered addicted to tech yet they still thrive in-person interaction. A great example of this is that Gen Z actually considers video meetings such as Zoom and others to be “in person.” It is that near perfect blend of the human and tech that will let this generation blaze a path forward.

Another negative Gen Z stereotype that will definitely be a strength is that “Gen Z expects too much from brands and companies they interact with.” Basically, Gen Z tends to be much more ethical and cognizant of a brand’s impact on the environment. They will boycott and change their habits based on what they perceive to be negative actions by a company or brand. There is no better group to be acting as public servants. This is the generation that we need to be in places of citizen/resident contact in our local government offices. They feel. They care. They act.

In the interest of space, I will touch on a few recruiting elements here.

First, Houston Water has an amazing program that identifies candidates in local technical high schools and gives them their basic water and wastewater courses. And  it pays them for several hours of internship weekly before offering them trainee jobs after graduation. This is actually an old program in Houston. Many of the first graduates of this program are still employed by the city. Nearly all of their first graduating class are now managers in high levels of responsibility and many have just celebrated their 25th anniversary with Houston!

Second, the Water Environment Association of Texas (WEAT) Spring Board program has some similar aspects to Houston’s program, but also has a Veterans recruiting aspect. WEAT also was awarded the first full apprenticeship program from the U.S. Department of Labor, which is admirably organizational agnostic. It has components and participants ranging from city governments, engineering firms and even contract operations companies.

We will stop right here for now but next month I promise to dive a deeper into core concepts of these programs, and how they can be leveraged for your organization.

About the Author

Clarence Wittwer

Clarence Wittwer is the owner and chief operating officer of Wittwer Environmental. He can be reached at [email protected].

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