How Generation Z might change the workplace
How Generation Z might change the workplace
Rock giants The Who struck a chord with their sixties anthem My Generation. It savagely cut to the differences between those post war Baby Boomers and the Silent wartime generation. Through modern times, the generational labels have continued. Taken to heart by the behaviouralists as a way to explain the way different generations think and live, and amplified by the marketing world to perpetuate consumerism.
We have become used to the terms Generation X, then Millennials and now Generation Z have entered our conscience and the workplace. The terms are often bandied around but the distinctions around the age definitions of some of the more recent generations may surprise. Millennials, for example, would have grown-up all too aware of the terror attacks of 9/11, whereas for Generation Z, it would be something to read about in the history books.
The Pew Research Center classifies the generations as:
Amongst the many changes that the generations have grown-up with, the advances of technology must be one of the most significant. Baby Boomers grew up as television expanded dramatically, changing their lifestyles and connection to the world in fundamental ways.
Generation X grew up as the computer revolution was taking hold, and Millennials came of age during the internet explosion.
In this progression, what is unique for Generation Z is that all of the above have been part of their lives from the start, notes Michael Dimock, Pew Research Center President. The iPhone launched in 2007, when the oldest of Gen Z were 10. By the time they were in their teens, the primary means they connected with the web was through mobile devices and WiFi. Social media, constant connectivity and on-demand entertainment and communication are innovations Millennials adapted to as they came of age. For those born after 1996, they are largely assumed.
These technological influences are reflected in some recent research by Global Web Index, when they looked at media consumption during the coronavirus pandemic of 2020. The results have been beautifully captured in infographic form by Visual Capitalist.
For Generation Z, online video content has been a major source of information during the pandemic. For Millennials, it has been a broader mix of online videos, online TV and broadcast television. Generation X increased their TV watching more than any other generation, but also watched TV online. Lastly, the Baby Boomers changed their media consumption habits the least of all the generations, with an increase in watching TV online most apparent.
So as the generations move through the workplace, what can we expect from how Generation Z might impact the workplace of today? In its research, Deloitte paints a nuanced picture of the work expectations of Generation Z. While salary is the most important factor in deciding on a job, Generation Z values salary less than every other generation: If given the choice of accepting a better-paying but boring job versus work that was more interesting but didn’t pay as well, Gen Z was fairly evenly split over the choice.
Deloitte concludes that to win the hearts of Generation Z, companies and employers will need to highlight their efforts to be good global citizens. And actions speak louder than words: Companies must demonstrate their commitment to a broader set of societal challenges such as sustainability, climate change, and hunger.
Although Generation Z will be more than capable of handling the technological requirements of working remotely in the “new normal”, EY research reported in Forbes showed that they will still value human interaction.
A Gen-Z employee will be more productive and enthusiastic if they are able to receive feedback and collaborate closely with managers and others on projects.
Like every other generation as they have entered the workplace, Generation Z will bring with them their own mindset and skill set. However, the desire to work with and collaborate using intuitive technology looks set to accelerate even further.
For a generation that has grown up with digital technology, there will be an expectation that their work devices are as at least as intuitive and powerful as the devices they use at home. They will be willing to embrace mobile technology and help to innovate in its use in the field. Good news for those looking to equip the emerging mobile workforce of today and tomorrow. It seems Generation Z will be willing partners.
Header Image source: Mr. Yanukit/shutterstock.com