Time for the generational changing of the guard.
“Generation Z only knows a world that is hyper-connected, where by the tap of a smartphone, a pair of shoes can be delivered to their doorstep via Uber or a drone in less than an hour. To Generation Z, a phone will be broken if they cannot see the other person on the other end. It’s a brave new world that Generation Z is growing up in.” Ryan Jenkins
The first batch of kids born in Y2K is starting college in large numbers. Their slightly older siblings are nearing graduation or have graduated, and the first few members of Generation Z (or the iGeneration) have entered the workforce. By all indications, they’ll prove themselves just as practical and capable as millennials.
This cohort, born from about 1996 to 2016, have recognized what many older workers can’t or won’t: The old paradigm of employee loyalty doesn’t work in an “at-will” environment, where companies sacrifice staff whenever the bottom line demands it.
What’s left is a cognitive dissonance among upper executives, who seem to think workers should be loyal no matter how they’re treated.
That might have worked when the World Wide Web and global village were young. Nowadays, affordable technology lets us “reach out and touch someone” anywhere in seconds—paying them or getting paid in an instant—so the playing field is level once again.
Generation Z takes high-speed communication technology for granted, and many in that group start tech-based enterprises in their mid-teens. They’ll have no problem going solo when they feel it’s beneficial for them or they feel they’re being mistreated.
A few things you can expect of the iGeneration:
1. The display a penchant for stability. Having seen what happened with their parents, they want to ensure they won’t suffer from corporate indifference. They prefer their jobs to be stable touchstones they can rely on—still, they want it to be on their terms.
2. They’re stubbornly independent. Despite wanting stability, members of the iGeneration, like their millennial predecessors, are practical. They look after personal interests first, and they’ll want a greater say in all aspects of their jobs. They aren’t afraid of hard work, but they will expect to be appreciated for it and will want to know they won’t be tossed aside when the road gets rocky.
3. They understand technology intuitively. Generation Z cut their teeth on cellphones (often literally) and are the first generation that grew from toddlerhood with electronics in their hands. They’re superbly connected. This focus on their smartphones might look like aimless anomie to older workers, but they thoroughly understand social media and computers in ways Baby Boomers never will. They quickly adopt new apps, tricks and tech as they arrive. They’re well aware of the advantageous position that affords them. They prefer a knowledge-sharing work culture, and they’ll instinctively see that de-siloing information and technology is vital to productivity and long-term success.
4. They crave mobility. That’s doesn’t mean job hopping, but rather the ability to use an array of mobile technology—laptops, tablets, smartphones—for work and play. They may be the “New Kids on the Cube Farm,” but staying in one cubicle all day won’t do. They can get as much done at Starbucks as most others can in the office. It also frees them up to travel, for both work and fun.
5. They want a decent work/life balance. As with millennials, time outside work is important to Generation Z. Ironically, though, their greater connectivity may blur the line between work and home life even more than millennials have seen.
Though their transition into the business world might prove turbulent, Generation Z will fit much better with the millennials than previous generations have. Now that millennials have become ensconced in corporate culture, our shift toward all-tech, always-on workers should be much easier.
Gen Z members are practical, independent, self-actualized, tech-savvy and smart—exactly what we need as we venture deeper into the Information Age.