Entering the working world, for many, can feel like being thrown into the deep end of an Olympic swimming pool, and being asked to race against Michael Phelps.
Being thrust into your first interview, salary negotiation or team conflict, with no idea about how to approach them, can be overwhelming; especially because most of us aren’t really told what to expect. Relying on a few ad hoc scraps of advice can also result in unnecessary career mistakes.
The isolation of the pandemic made learning the lessons of the working world even harder for new recruits. Beginning your career working from home, for many, meant reduced or non-existent mentorship as companies scrambled to adapt to a digital onboarding process. This lack of guidance pushed newer generations to search for advice on how to cope with this.
Many younger workers, particularly Gen Z, therefore took to social media platforms like TikTok, Youtube, and Instagram to search for this guidance. These platforms have amassed a burgeoning collection of influencer experts, who provide advice on everything from how to revive your dead orchid to how to teach your cat tricks.
This has provided an arena where a rising number of creators – workplace professionals, motivational speakers, and recruitment experts – can give advice on the best corporate lessons for people to learn. With that, the scaffolds of the old ways of working are being removed one pithy, humorous video at a time.
Now, there is plenty of content to find on job search tips, what not to do in an interview, how to approach talking about pay, and even red flags at the workplace. This information has become a crucial guide in a revolutionized work culture – where everyone can have their say.
Since TikTok recently overtook Google to become the most popular site on the planet, this advice is influencing the workplace far and wide.
A growing group of creators are adding to an ever-expanding digital conversation about the future of work. As the flexible working approach continues to take hold in much of the corporate world, new content about remote working tips and etiquette are becoming more popular – giving younger generations all they need to prepare for the changing world of work.
This period of corporate enlightenment has highlighted a huge lesson for businesses and individuals: the importance of collaborating and connecting in the right way to avoid becoming just another internet meme about how not to do it.
How to navigate the workplace as a creative
The likes of YouTube, Instagram, and latterly TikTok have also had a huge influence on the careers of young people in the creative industry. Social media platforms have acted as a place for advice like how to structure your hours as a freelancer, how to best market your animation/music/etc., how to deal with difficult customers, and what technology to use.
One creative, Renee Zhan – a London-based, Chinese-American director and animator – has been taking advantage of one way to create a better working environment, no matter the location. She used file sharing tech as a hub of collaboration between herself and other creatives when making her animated film, ‘Soft Animals’.
Using this platform helped Zhan and her creatives collaborate and make the best use of their time whilst they worked during the pandemic.
Social media is filled with advice on how to use technology like this to change the way you work. But how can businesses react to this advice to make the workplace better for their employees?
Changing work culture isn’t just a TikTok trend
Training, onboarding, and workplace norms have all evolved (or been torn up), as companies have changed both their operations the location of where work gets done. Therefore, companies cannot expect to act the same way as they did before.
The masses of the social media world have not only provided younger generations with in-depth instructions on how to play the game but also, a set of values to play by – values like equity, inclusion, and transparency.
Since Gen Z workers will make up 27% of the workforce by 2025, these are expectations that companies need to embrace just to survive, let alone flourish.
So, how can businesses respond to this rise in a clear narrative of values and expectations from Gen Z?
Businesses can use this to create their own manual for how the workplace should be and what common failings to avoid. The days of the “it is what it is” attitude are over and the bare minimum is no longer passable.
With hybrid working set as a new standard for working, companies need to look at how they can collaborate better and connect deeper with their workforce.
From making friends over video conferencing to expressing empathy over email, businesses should focus on creating their own guide to making flexible working more human.
These are a few actions that businesses can take in order to create this new toolkit for workplace green flags:
- Onboarding virtually is hard work, but that’s ok. Build thorough plans for onboarding, including live sessions and online videos and learning.
- Support your managers to work on their remote leadership skills, knowing that their office style might not work remotely.
- Understand how to build empathy and rapport in online meetings and messaging tools. Consider how your comments can be interpreted.
- Create an environment that allows for collaboration with other teams you might not work with. Put in coffee chats and cross-team meetings to encourage togetherness.
- Help workers battle social isolation.
By following this toolkit, companies can help their workers feel not only more connected but also more motivated and productive too.
The importance of mentorship at work
One of the problems highlighted by recent social media content since the start of the pandemic has been the loss of mentorship in the workplace with the rise of remote working arrangements.
The financial sector was one of the industries hit hardest by the loss of mentorship as a result of pandemic volatility. Some companies have done little to bolster this loss, with a study by SkyNova finding that 39% of fully remote Gen Z employees ranked finding a mentor as one of their primary struggles.
TikTok creators have acted as pseudo-workplace mentors, but employees shouldn’t be forced to rely on the generalized advice of creators to compensate for the lack of mentoring in their company.
Companies need to take the same spirit of authenticity and truth provided on social media and transfer that to the day-to-day conversations managers have with their teams.
Exposing the flaws of the previously rigid structure of the workplace has marked the first step in creating a better future for people climbing the career ladder – and for those just getting on to it.
Companies can learn from the bite-size, continuous learning that social media content delivers. The business impact goes way beyond videos of viral dances or photos of coffee.
Instead, continuous support and connection in the workplace can ensure that no one feels like they have no one to turn to.
Although social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram may have started the revolution in work culture, it is time that businesses now take the baton to create a human-based approach that matches the needs of a new working world.