Gen Z is on the Horizon
I have been speaking on Generations in the Workplace for 10 years and finally, I have a new Generation to introduce to the workplace! Gen Z is on the horizon! This untested generation’s oldest members are now turning 21 and getting ready to enter your workforce.
Gen Z will soon take on their own mantle as opposed to the “They want a trophy for just showing up!” one of the Millennials. Sadly, we will replace it with what we see as their own overriding characteristic—but we’re not yet quite sure what it will be. I am hoping it will be more positive!
Gen Z, with members born between 1997–2012, is 70 million in size, and they are the most diverse generation in U.S. history. The following are some facts we have learned so far about this generation.
The top 10 things you need to know about Gen Z:
- They are the true “digital natives” born into the era of Wi-Fi, Google, and social media. They know how to take a selfie and talk to Gramma via FaceTime, and they played their first game, Peek-a-Boo Zoo, on Mom’s cell phone.
- They are very resourceful—they love YouTube and TicTok using it as a resource to find out how to do anything. They can figure things out for themselves without adult supervision. They’re the first generation that literally doesn’t need you (or any adult) for knowledge – they can get it online.
- Independent learners make up this generation. In addition to using YouTube, they love online educational resources such as TED Talks, Master Class, LinkedIn Learning, blogs, podcasts, etc.—they are all about the pursuit of knowledge.
- Because they are finding their own answers, they are doers and activists—they jump in and do—which means that they may be asking for your forgiveness rather than your permission.
- Gen Z has never known a world without social media. They’ve grown up with Snapchat and Instagram friends (Facebook’s for their parents!), and a world where it’s easier to make connections digitally than in the real world. But those connections lack substance. Kids are looking for environments where they can form meaningful relationships connected by a common culture.
- They are realists and know that they live in a world that has never felt safe. Although most of this generation does not remember 9/11, they are aware of school shootings and terrorist acts. And it’s scary. They look for cultures where they feel safe and supported more than ever. They hear the news constantly with the 24-hour news cycles and social media postings. Many are growing up in homes that were significantly affected by the Great Recession, fires, and floods.
- Gen Z’s attention span is down to eight seconds. They live in a world of continuous updates, and they process information faster than other generations thanks to apps like Snapchat and TikTok.
- Although this generation can be less focused than their Millennial counterparts, they are champion multi-taskers. In school, they will create a document on their school computer, do research on their phone or tablet, take notes on a notepad, and then finish in front of the TV with a laptop, while face-timing a friend. Do you know anyone like this?
- They’re altruistic and not afraid of work. About 60 percent say that they would like to have a job that makes the world a better place. Volunteer work adds meaning to their lives and is sought by 26 percent of them. Plus 76 percent are worried about protecting the environment. This generation is not afraid to work hard for a meaningful cause. They want substance. Employers, give them something significant to be a part of and you’ve got them. Make the connection to something greater than just the job or work itself and they are sold.
- They are justice-minded, have a heart for a mission, and get out there to make it happen. They volunteer, they invest their time, and they sign up! Maybe they will vote? Time will tell. Gen Zs are independent and they like their own space. They enjoy working alone on a project, and they do not appear to be as collaborative as the Millennials. And here’s some good or, maybe, bad news for parents. While Millennials could be comfortable in their parents’ house, Gen Z strives for financial independence. They want to have a place of their own to call home.
As more and more of this generation enter the workplace, more characteristics and preferences will be discovered. It is going to be an adventure learning about them!