Gen Zers are more similar toboomers in their attitude toward physical contact, flirtation andfraternization—an attitude that could help them keep their distancefrom potential germ-spreaders.

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Growing up in an era of political correctness and #MeToo mayalso be giving Generation Z a protective edge against thespread of coronavirus. According to a recentsurvey,  Gen Z are definitely nottouchy-feely when it comes to colleagues, a characteristic theyshare with their oldest peers.

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The survey, from Reflektive, finds that Gen Zers are moresimilar to boomers in their attitude toward physical contact,flirtation and fraternization—an attitude that could help them keeptheir distance from potential germ-spreaders, not to mentionsexual harassment suits. Millennials and GenXers, on the other hand, are more open to physical contact—with 7percent of Gen Xers actually admitting to slapping colleagues onthe butt at work.

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Related: Men and women have very different definitions ofsexual harassment

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In addition, 15 percent of millennials go for hugs, while 10percent of GenXers will go for a kiss on the cheek. And bothmillennials and Gen Xers will resort to that awkward shouldermassage—something neither boomers (4 percent) nor Gen Zers (3percent) engage in. What Gen Zers will tolerate are handshakes,high fives and fist bumps.

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Then there's the matter of propriety in other behavior, with 75percent of Gen Zers and 80 percent of boomers saying that sittingon a colleague's lap during work hours reflects poorly on aperson's professional reputation (duh!).

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Gen Zers also seem to be better at setting boundaries betweenwork and their personal lives, the study finds; even in this age ofmad social media, where anyone who is anyone seems to be connectedto everyone, Gen Zers are significantly less likely to follow theirmanagers on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube,Pinterest, or TikTok than millennials or GenXers. In fact, 44percent don't follow their managers on any social media platforms,while only 30 percent of millennials and 39 percent of GenXers havealso refrained from doing so.

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Then there's the whole #MeToo movement. While millennials andGen Xers still engage in flirting at work, with 13 percentadmitting they'd do so to get a promotion and 8 percent sayingthey'd flirt on a bet, that's definitely not the case with theoldest and youngest; 81 percent of boomers and 71 percent of GenZers say they never do.

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"There's a temptation to just lump Gen Z and millennialstogether, but it's clear that while they share some priorities,they don't share others," says Reflektive CEO Greg Brown.

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Brown adds, "Our research suggests that while millennials andGen X enjoy a more casual work environment, Gen Z may beinfluential in returning a greater sense of professionalism towork. This is a perfect example of diversity in the workplace andwhy performance management can be a tricky business and whyemployers are well-served to invest in performance managementsolutions that support the way people really work can help thembest manage the diverse needs of no matter the differentgenerations."

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Marlene Satter

Marlene Y. Satter has worked in and written about the financial industry for decades.