A large portion of the generation now entering the workforce sees failure as part of the innovation process.

by Gregory Trueblood Read more from the CFOs in a Time of Transformation issue

“Fail fast” has become a business mantra in the age of agility, and Generation Z appears to be on board. As its oldest members turn 24 this year, the generation is already starting to make a splash in the workforce by distinguishing itself from preceding generations.

In a 2018 EY global survey of 1,400 Gen Z members, 80 percent of respondents said that “embracing failure on a project will help them to be more innovative.” Seventeen percent believe that it will make them more comfortable taking on new risks in the future. The contrast with earlier research on millennials is notable. One Babson University study from 2015 found that 41 percent of millennials cited “fear of failure” as the No. 1 roadblock to starting their own business.

The contrast with earlier research on millennials is notable.

So what does Gen Z’s failure-friendly approach to work mean for its supervisors? To get the most out of members of this cohort, give them the space to be unsuccessful safely. “Organizations should create an environment that allows them to bring their ideas forward, fail fast and then learn from that failure,” EY’s Natasha Stough said in a press release.

With 97 percent of Gen Z members open to ongoing feedback, they are bound to learn—and innovate—a lot in their first few years on the job.

This article appeared in the Spring 2019 issue of Insigniam Quarterly, with the headline “For Gen Z, Failure Is an Option.” To begin receiving IQ, go here.


Gregory Trueblood is a consultant with Insigniam.

comments