The last of the Millennials are entering the workforce, and the next generation is stepping up. It’s time to start thinking about Generation Z and whether your business is ready for the next wave of workers.
So who are Gen Z and how do they differ from the Millennials? Firstly, some dates.
Opinions differ on the exact start and end points, but according to Croner-i there are now five generations working side-by-side, ranging from the Traditionalists (those born before 1946) through to the Baby Boomers (1946-1964), Gen X (1965-1976), Gen Y, known as the Millennials (1977-1997) and Gen Z (those born after 1997).
Gen Z share many traits with Millennials, according to sales recruitment and training agency Pareto Law: “They have a set of common priorities that seem alien to other generations: they’re more motivated by social conscience, they’re more au fait with technology and they’re generally seen as a generation who expect more from life. Where they arguably differ is that they are driven by default; a far higher percentage of Gen Z have major ambitions to be successful.”
In an article for Entrepreneur, James Clark, a content marketing specialist for DATIS HR Cloud, says that the new wave of workers will be bigger and more complex than their predecessors. Their defining characteristics include:
- They are tech savvy: Generation Z are the true digital natives, having never known a world without smartphones or the internet.
- They appreciate privacy: When social media first took off, Millennials and older generations would use them with little thought about the repercussions of living their life in the public eye. Gen Z has learned from those mistakes, preferring platforms like Snapchat, which don’t leave a permanent record.
- They are independent: Whereas Millennials are known to favour collaboration, those in the younger generation tend to be more independent. In the workplace, this means they will prefer to learn, work and research by themselves.
But while it’s easy to pigeonhole people into generational boxes, none of us are really very different.
As HR director Andrew Powles told Croner-i: “In my experience, all generations have more in common than in difference, for example, a suspicion of change, need for a good manager, desire for feedback — these cut across the generations.”
So as you think about how to attract and retain the new generation of employees to help drive the business forward, make sure you have every generation on board.
Any changes in the workplace — from investing in the latest technology, to implementing agile working policies — need to be for the benefit of everyone, and not just Generation Z.