The first members of Gen Z will be graduating from college in a few years, and market researchers and trend forecasters are clamoring to tap into their paychecks. Will the latest crop of youngsters reshape how we do business in the near future?
Gen Z hasn’t yet flooded the workforce. Isn’t it a little early to start worrying about how they will spend money?
My advice to my clients is it's better to be early than late. Each generation tends to be innovative when they’re younger and then grow more similar as they get older.
That’s a mistake folks made when talking about millennials.
Employers thought the world would change, but there are always more similarities between generations at the same age than there are differences. Once people apply a generational moniker though, it’s common to treat millennials or Generation Z like a unique specimen.
When managers call millennials lazy and entitled, they’re most likely referring to the life stage of teens and young adults. Time magazine ran a cover story about millennials called the “Me Me Me Generation.” But 20 years before that, Fortune had a cover story about why baby boomers hate busters (what they called Gen X at the time). Every 20 years, the generation with power and comfort hates the younger generation.
Gen Z has been shaped largely by the recession. They witnessed their parents lose over half their savings as a result of being laid off or fired due to the recession. Millennials love the gig economy, but my research shows that Gen Z doesn’t want any part of that. Gen Z wants a reliable paycheck. They’re thinking about college very early on in high school, and they’re not viewing it as an “experience” but as an investment in their future. Gen Z is much more pragmatic and a lot more prepared, and that worldview isn’t something they’re likely to outgrow as they start their careers.
They have also been shaped by personalization of media. Gen Z can stream any song or watch any of their favorite episodes at any time. It’s an expectation that travels with them outside of media. They expect to be more networked all the time. They also expect to be able to customize things exactly to their personal preferences. That’s intrinsic to Gen Z and will extend into the workplace.
When we asked Gen Z what makes their generation different, they shared that they were both more accepting and rebellious. For millennials, rebellion was totally absent in their youth culture, they had a very shiny outlook.
Gen Z is annoyed by the system they’re inheriting. This generation fully embraces freedom of speech, they will likely be more technology literate than any other generation, social media will be at the center of their communication channels, and they will require more structure and predictability in the workplace.
As the first wave of Gen Z is soon to graduate from college, now is the perfect time to start thinking about how to integrate them into your organization.
Sher Lynn, the Generational Guru and best-selling author of Ties to Tattoos, Turning Generational Differences into a Competitive Advantage, is a speaker, coach and trainer in the area of Human Resources and Talent Management. Sher specializes in helping employers maximize their human capital by collaborating across the generational gap. Her expertise in human capital management and organization includes: workforce planning, company culture, training, assessments, HRIS implementation, regulatory compliance, strategic alignment, payroll, compensation and benefit programs. Learn more at generationalguru.com.