Academic journal article Competition Forum

How Generation Z's Reliance on Digital Communication Can Affect Future Workplace Relationships

Academic journal article Competition Forum

How Generation Z's Reliance on Digital Communication Can Affect Future Workplace Relationships

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Interpersonal communication has been an essential part of building relationships that can be traced back to the beginning of human interaction. Individuals build relationships with one another through sending and receiving messages that have some effect on the receiver. If the message is received correctly, a bond is likely to evolve. In 1948, Harold Laswell, an American communication theorist, developed a model to describe how communication works (Hill, 2007). He stated that in order to understand how the communication process works, we need to ask several questions: "Who?", "Says what?", "In which channel?", "To whom?" and "With what effect?" (Hill, 2007). Later models of communication build on this one and are slightly more complex, describing communication being a transactional process, in which two individuals assign meaning to the interaction, sending and receiving messages, through multiple channels (Harris & Nelson, 2008). Furthermore, other researchers have concluded that what an individual achieves is directly connected to the messages he or she receives from an organization (Harris & Nelson, 2008). Heath and Bryant (2000) reiterated that a sender transmits messages to a receiver to stimulate a response from them. Even though the communication process is automatic, and doesn't require much thought, these concepts are applicable to our past and present culture and relationships, whether they are business-related or personal.

Interpersonal communication is affected by an individual's ability to express themselves whether they choose to speak or write. The Occupational Information Network, also known as ONET, is often used by individuals to discover suitable career paths. Employers use the same database to help them identify key knowledge, skills and abilities required for jobs. (National Center for O*NET Development, 2015) Data collectors affiliated with ONET define social skills as "developed capacities used to work with people to reach goals." (National Center for O*NET Development, 2015) The group titled "Social skills" is further broken down into five different parts: coordination, instruction, persuasion, service orientation, and social perceptiveness (National Center for O*NET Development, 2015). From observing the ranking system based on level of importance, Employers rank each of these as "very important" in almost all levels of positions. These include "level one" positions, jobs requiring very little preparation, leading up to "level five" positions, such as top leadership positions which require an extensive amount of knowledge, training, and experience (National Center for O*NET Development, 2015). This means that almost all positions in the United States, even the most entry level, require effective communication as a base skill.

Much research has been done to identify numerous benefits resulting from businesses and educational institutions using social media and other forms of mobile communication. While positive benefits should not be discounted and we will most likely continue to see an increase in using such forms of communication in the future, an over-reliance on mobile communication and social media can pose potential problems in employment and educational settings. Problems with interpersonal communication can hinder the ability of both future and current employers to meet each other's needs. The reliance of the next generation, referred to as Generation Z, on smartphone devices and social media outlets can diminish their ability to communicate in an organizational setting, which can affect the overall operations of businesses. In the background section I will define the characteristics of Generation Z and recent information reported on their usage of digital communication channels. In the following sections, I will discuss the possible problems and challenges that can arise from reliance on digital communication channels, particularly in the workplace. Finally, in the recommendations section I propose guidelines that HR professionals can put into practice to diminish these problems and build effective relationships with the next generation of employees. …

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