Generation Z are people born in the late 90’s at or after the year 2000. This is the generation that follows Millennials, or for more perspective, the third generation removed from the Baby Boomers. While the workplace is still learning how to best support and leverage Millennials (Gen Y, 1980-1995/2000), this is the fifth generation to begin quickly taking a foothold in the modern workplace.
They represent over 80 million people, so generalizations are difficult, but this post merely suggests potential tendencies from a number of sources. They are known for personalization and individuality. Therefore, consider this generation to have greater diversity and unique paths. This newest generation takes on many other names. These include the Me Generation, Media Generation, Homeland Generation, Pluralist Generation and the iGeneration.
Generation Z is the third generation removed from the Baby Boomers (TV Generation, 1947-1963). Their values and decision-making are proving to be dramatically different and yet in some cases similar to post depression era Boomers. They grew up with different life experiences thus driving a unique set of values and decision making.
There are several unique facets to this generation I have found intriguing from a variety of sources in my studies. These provide a balanced understanding of the nuances that make this generation unique so we can have greater understanding and to embrace their unique strengths and provide support to our fresh peers now entering the workplace.
UNIQUE FACETS OF GEN Z:
- SAVE FOR A BETTER WORLD: This generation does not recall 9-11. They have however experienced political and economic turmoil on a global scale. They may in fact take on many characteristics of the Traditionalist Generation (Silent Generation-1925-1946), because they too grew up during a war and depression. This indicates they are not likely to take risks, rather make wise pragmatic decisions. And, at the end of this generation people grew up in a stronger global economy. They tend to be quite independent overall. Unlike prior generations, they are more educated, savvy, safer, mature and want to change the world. They manage their money, and seek to make the world a better place.
- DIVERSITY EMBRACERS: This is the most diverse generation in history. They include 47% ethnic minorities. Hence, they can also be referred to as the “Pluralist Generation” – they believe in diverse races and religious backgrounds and feel strongly that people can coexist in our society.
- SCREENAGERS=LESS INTERPERSONAL ATTENTION: People of Generation Z are considered the first true digital natives, referred to as “screenagers” or the “iGeneration”, where computer, Internet and wireless technologies are expected and part of their mobile lives. They are used to instant action and swift satisfaction from such access. Since all of their communication takes place on the Internet, they may tend to demonstrate lower verbal communication skills compared to prior generations. Their greatest challenges appear to be listening and other interpersonal skills. Specifically, their ability to focus, listen and understand a message is less than their Millennial predecessors. The Gen Z attention consumes information in 8 second bytes. This is one third less than the 12 seconds to reach Millennials. This simply means, when focused on workplace performance and marketing, the WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) and value need to be obvious.
- GENDER-FREE IDENTITY: Pull out the Kinsey Scale for this one. Research from JWT Intelligence shows only 48% of Gen Z identify as exclusively heterosexual as compared to 65% of Millennials, and only 44% of them say they always buy clothes designed for their own gender, compared with 54% of Millennials.
- REACH ME PRIVATELY: LESS MATERIALISTIC: A Gen Z-er typically views email, first embraced by Generation X (Slacker Generation, 1965-1980), to now be an obsolete way to communicate. In fact, they are three times more likely to open a chat message received through a push notification. This generation while they rely in the Internet to communicate, they also value their privacy, meaning the best way to reach them is via private forums that broadcast media like Twitter and Facebook. They have learned like Generation X, that things live forever on the Internet. They spend less money and care less about material items than they do worthwhile experiences they can share on newer social media platforms like Secret, Instagram, Whisper and Snapchat. While they care about brands, a brand does not drive their decision making. They are on their own individual path.
- GLOBAL CAREER MULTIPLICITY: This generation breaks from traditional forms of identity. They have multiple online personas and many will have three careers by the time they reach 30. They are accustomed to engaging with friends all over the world, so they are more prepared for a global business environment than the prior generations. They are highly connected, resourceful and collaborative. They have a DIY mindset and take charge of their careers early.
- INFORMATION MEDIA ACCESS: Gen Z’s media consumption habits are unique as well. Watch out Boomers (TV Generation)! They watch between two and four hours of YouTube and less than an hour of traditional television per day. They are also two times more likely to use YouTube than Millennials, and a lot less likely to use Facebook. In fact, Facebook usage is lower for this generation than the others.
This generation, like all generations, has great strengths and possibilities. Their potential to build their unique identity is being shaped by their early life experiences. In our modern world, there has been greater access to greater volume and variety of experiences through technology than in any generation prior.
This generation is proving to be smarter and showing abilities bridge many social gaps across the globe. In fact, social generational lines are aligning more across cultures globally with each passing generation. Even social generation tendencies in Southern Asian and Confucian Asian cultures are beginning to shift with the western cultures.
This generation does not know a world without the internet. They are hard wired for technology. Support includes development of interpersonal communication skills, understanding the need for contingency planning and patience.
So what is next? Stay tuned for Generation Alpha! Yes, the next generation to enter the workplace will start being born soon. We begin generations with the Greek alphabet.
Visit CBS News at http://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/meet-generation-z/4/
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RESOURCES: Forbes.com, Wikipedia, Kinsey Institute, Huffington Post, CBS News
Phillip is an award winning consultant, speaker, and performance coach. He partners with many of the leading global organizations to make a lasting difference in the lives of individuals and the organizations they serve. He provides organizational development, employee engagement, strategic planning and cultural transformation support. He is a field pioneer on the cutting edge and helped create the credential for the workplace learning and performance profession, the CPLP (Certified Professional in Learning and Performance).