Generational Shifts in Trust: Why Gen Z Prefers AI for Guidance & Growth 

by Matt Gullett | published on March, 2024

Gen Z's Digital World  

Generational preferences are shifting in ways that are notable to employers, mental health professionals, and market researchers alike. Recent studies, such as those reported by Forbes and Cureus, have flagged a remarkable trend: Generation Z, the cohort of true digital natives born between the mid-1990s and early 2010s, is increasingly placing trust in artificial intelligence (AI) for advice on matters ranging from career development to mental health over their living, breathing counterparts. 

As the first generation to be raised entirely in the era of smart devices, social media, and on-demand digital services, Gen Z's comfort with technology isn't just observable, it's quantifiable — and its integration into their everyday lives is markedly different from older generations. The implications of this shift are far-reaching. For organizations and industries looking to stay connected with this upcoming demographic, understanding Gen Z's reliance on AI via multiple devices is not only fascinating; it's critical for future planning and strategy.  

Gen Z's Trust in AI: A Closer Look at the Reports 

Forbes has highlighted a striking statistic: nearly half of Generation Z respondents feel they receive better career advice from AI, such as ChatGPT, than their managers. As Gen Z employees increasingly dominate the workforce, this is a wake-up call for organizations to reassess how they address career development and mentoring that is more in line with Gen Z's desire. 

Supporting this inclination towards AI, Cureus published findings suggesting Gen Z's comfort with AI extends to the vulnerable area of mental health. Here, too, Gen Zers seem to favor the discretion and round-the-clock access that AI-powered mental health assistants provide, reflecting a broader trend where Gen Z is more at ease with digital solutions than previous generations.  

Why Are Gen Zers Turning to AI? 

A constellation of reasons underpins Gen Z's preference for AI over human input. Foremost, as first-generation digital natives, Gen Z's formative years were immersed in digital worlds. They matured alongside Siri, Alexa, and other AI interfaces; as such, seeking advice from a non-human entity isn't just second nature—it's often the first port of call among Gen Z users. 

AI technologies offer a key advantage: they are always on hand across multiple devices. Unlike human advisors, whose availability is limited by office hours and appointments, AI solutions provide immediate responses, no matter the time of day. There's also a perceived neutrality with AI; without the baggage of emotions or personal bias, Generation Z may view AI as being more objective in its guidance.  They may also prefer the apparent discretion that AI offers. 

In matters of mental well-being, AI presents a discreet outlet for support. Younger generations are expressing their lives online, where privacy is a flexible concept. When seeking help for sensitive concerns, Gen Zers may find anonymity with AI more comforting than opening up to a person who could potentially pass judgment. 

Reconstructing Training and Professional Development Programs for Gen Z Users Will Be Essential 

For organizations to remain competitive and resonant with Gen Z talents, a revamp of human resource strategies developed by older generations might be in order. This involves harnessing AI where appropriate—integrating Generation Z technology into learning systems, for instance, could align with Gen Z's preference for digital solutions while still delivering the career advancement opportunities they crave. 

It will be crucial to redesign training and professional development programs for Gen Zers. This might involve managerial training that leverages AI tools to provide personalized, on-demand feedback and similar approaches to learning and growth that Generation Z finds so appealing in their personal use of technology across connected devices. 

On a strategic level, companies must acknowledge this generational shift and prepare accordingly. Adapting leadership methods to offer more of the mentorship and development feedback that Gen Z seeks, and doing so with the help of AI, could form a new model for corporate personal development—a hybrid of human expertise and technological efficiency that speaks directly to tomorrow's Gen Z leaders. 

By recognizing the underpinnings of their comfort with technological advancements and understanding the pragmatic approach they take to their personal growth, businesses can start to reconfigure their practices to better suit this emerging Gen Z workforce dynamic. 

Gen Z Tech: Bridging the Gap Between Human and AI Advisors 

The rise of AI doesn't mean the human element in guidance and mentorship is becoming obsolete. Rather, there's an opportunity for a synergistic relationship between technology and personal interaction. Companies looking to seize this opportunity must, therefore, consider how best to complement AI's efficiency with the irreplaceable value of human experience and empathy. 

An older professional advises a Gen-Z professional in an office setting.

Managers can hone their roles by becoming facilitators who leverage AI for data and insights but provide the contextual wisdom that AI can't mimic. They can guide team members in interpreting AI-generated advice within the nuances of the organization's specific goals and culture. Additionally, it's important for leaders to prioritize open lines of communication to foster a supportive environment where Gen Z employees feel comfortable seeking advice and taking charge of their career paths. 

For employees, especially those from Generation Z, navigating a technology-saturated professional world requires initiative. Encouraging self-advocacy, where employees actively seek development conversations and mentoring relationships, can cultivate a culture where AI and human advisors serve complementary roles, with each playing to its respective strengths. 

Market Research Insights: Understanding the Gen Z Shift 

The trends exhibited by Gen Z demand careful consideration and thorough research, as they have the potential to reshape workplace dynamics. The role of market research becomes pivotal in decoding the patterns and preferences of this generational cohort. It's about probing deeper to understand why and how Gen Z prefers AI to human advisors and leveraging these insights to steer strategic decisions. 

As organizations strive to keep pace with the evolving needs of their workforce, market research can illuminate what motivates Gen Z, their expectations from the workplace, and how they interact with technology. These insights are essential for designing AI solutions that resonate with users, crafting engaging user experiences, and anticipating future shifts in behavior. 

By employing time-tested research methodologies and aligning them with emergent tech trends, businesses can uncover actionable insights that drive innovation. Whether it's developing new tools for employee development or refining AI interfaces for mental health support, market research informs approaches that align with the values and preferences of younger generations. 

Conclusion: Embrace Generation Z Technology for a Future-Ready Organization 

The growing preference of Generation Z for AI-driven guidance in career and mental health matters marks a significant development in how upcoming generations engage with technology and what they expect from it in their daily lives. Organizations that acknowledge this trend and integrate these preferences into their operations and culture are poised to build a more responsive, engaged, and future-ready workforce. 

It is clear that the business world must adapt to Generation Z technology if it wishes to attract, nurture, and retain Gen Z talent. To achieve this, a blend of technology and personalized human interaction, underpinned by a robust understanding of generational differences, will be key. 

For those eager to not only keep up with these shifts but to lead the response to them, Bellomy stands ready to assist. By reaching out to Bellomy, organizations can tap into a wealth of knowledge on market research methodologies and insights technology, honing in on opportunities afforded by the generational transition towards AI. It's time to explore how we can help your organization navigate and thrive amidst these evolving preferences with our experienced staff and cutting-edge technology. 


Matt Gullett, Bellomy’s SVP of Insights Technology, is a driving force behind Bellomy AI Analytics for Text. An employee of more than 20 years, he loves thinking and writing about AI.


Learn more about integrating AI into market research

At Bellomy, we pride ourselves on blending time-honored research methodologies with cutting-edge technology. Our staff and technologists possess deep research experience and are ready to help organizations harness AI responsibly and effectively. If you want to navigate the future of market research together, get in touch!