Introducing Generation Z

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By 2020, Gen Z members will make up the majority of employees, leaders, and consumer.

Introducing Generation ZAt first, I thought the Z stood for “Zombies” as I have had some recent interactions with some young people who act and think like zombies. But alas, the generational moniker is a recent invention- label being placed on the kids born subsequent to the 9-11 attack. It seems that the Center for Generational Kinetics (the clashing of generations?) has monetized the apparent differences between the growing number of “generation gaps” that are collaborating in the workplace and impacting the future in such important ways as cultural attitudes, consumption patterns, and employment strategies. Now that the Baby Boomers are phasing out to greener pastures (physical and metaphorically), young entrepreneurs such as those founders of the center, see the importance of understanding what attitudes and proclivities can be important to businesses. In its second annual report on Generation Z[1], as well as an interesting presentation made at the Houston Tedx conference, I thought it would be an interesting subject given that both my adult children have indeed developed different outlooks on life and work than we baby boomers lived. Both my kids are career professionals and the interesting mixture of courageous and innovative ways they have chosen to live their lives (they are considered Millennials) has surprised and astounded me. But they are not the only ones of the younger generations that have sort of turned the tables on the older generations and have proven to be vital in creating and impacting how our modern society functions (tech) and attitudes (liberal and diverse). But, given that MetaOps is business oriented, we present some insight into what research has been done on the new Generation Zers within the context of the workplace.

  • Gen Z is smarter with money than Millennials. According to surveys, 12% are already saving for retirement, and about 21% have savings accounts
  • Z is shaping up to be a “Throwback generation” and are determined not to end up like Millennials. 77% of Gen Z earn their own spending money through freelance and part-time work.
  • Gen Z is primed to become more influential than Millennials. In comparison, Gen Z is more fiscally conservative, and their behavior is making them much more compatible with the business and economic environment.

The Harvard Business Review presented some recent research on Generation Z aimed at hiring, leading and what motivates them. Indeed, the study estimates that by 2020, Gen Z members will make up the majority of employees, leaders, and consumer.

Generation Z is the youngest of the post baby boomers alphabet generations, but their lives started at a different point where technology and interconnectedness, as well as much greater diversity, exists in their world. Generation Z is self-motivated and entrepreneurial in spirit. According to the research, they have been confronted with an overcast of uncertainties, more even than the millennials, the generation that preceded them. As a result, Generation Z members seek a job that is meaningful: salary isn’t the bottom line. Furthermore, they have seen their parents’ and older siblings’ loyalty go unrewarded by employers, so for them, loyalty has to be a two-way street. They are digital natives who have grown up in the online world. They are progressive and have had access to more resources than any other generation. They tend to be great networkers, which significantly improves their chances of succeeding at whatever they put their mind to. Moreover, as with most younger folks, they are more passionate about their beliefs particularly when it comes to corporations and what they stand for.

According to the CGK report, leaders need to ensure that in defining what they stand for, they don’t just spew empty platitudes. This makes the visibility of the employer’s brand, in its broadest sense, increasingly important in the HR strategy to understand, attract, and motivate Gen Zeers, by project value, culture, and delivery of promises – all of which need to be consistent and managed effectively.

To Gen Zeers, leaders are viewed as highly influential in defining what their company stands for and communicating it in an authentic way. HR leaders need to take into account employees’ expectations around meaningful work, and flexible working alternatives. Transparency is an important factor in a company’s recruitment strategy, particularly with this new generation of Generation Z members.

However, as a seasoned baby boomer, I must say that given that the short time these youngsters have been around, perhaps it is a bit too early to assign specific characteristics. Indeed, one  popular American Democratic business strategy is to: divide, target and sell.



Additional Reading

Developing Leadership in the Digital Age

Evolution In Leadership: A Discussion with Shawne Duperon

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