Now Arriving: Gen Z
By Elise Chowdhry, September 18, 2018
Just when many companies and managers are getting a handle on managing their Millennials, the largest generational cohort in the U.S. workforce since 2016, here comes the next generation – Generation Z. The oldest Gen Z are just graduating from college and entering the workforce in numbers in 2018, adding a fourth generation to the mix of American workplaces and undoubtedly (at least for a while) some confusion.
Keeping in mind that generational themes are just that – themes – a recent Wall Street Journal article has provided an early read on what Boomer, Gen X, and an increasing number of Millennial leaders should understand about this generation as guidance on how to manage these first arrivals and those who will follow them:
- Like the Millennials, Gen Z is a massive generation – roughly 67 million in number
- Gen Z is the most racially diverse generation in American history
- Like all generations before them, they have been impacted by the world around them in their youth and it has shaped their perspective. In the case of Gen Z, they grew up with: the financial crisis of 2018 and its economic aftermath, technology and social media since birth, terrorism and school shootings in a 24-hour news cycle, and global uncertainty.
- As a result, Gen Z is known to be pragmatic, cautious, hardworking, interested in advancing/making money/financial security and even more technologically savvy than their generational predecessor. They also report higher levels of anxiety and depression as teens and young adults than previous generations.
Other things to note:
- The Gen Z and Millennials Collide @ Work Study revealed Gen Z wants many of the same things Millennials want from their managers. Like Millennials, Gen Z wants managers to: listen to/value their ideas and opinions, mentor them, give them consistent quality feedback, provide development and advancement opportunities, and workplace flexibility. That said, while 39% of Millennials and Gen Z indicated they prefer in-person communication versus all other methods (i.e. email, phone), managers may find that the Gen Z technological natives have a broader interpretation of “in-person”, including “face-to-face” facilitators such as FaceTime, Google + Hangouts, Skype, and Snapchat.
- The generation’s pragmatism may provide some good news for managers frustrated by Millennial turnover. A 2017 Accenture Strategy Survey found that 62% of 2017 graduates expected to stay at their first job for at least three years and 2015/2016 graduates were two-and-a-half times more likely than Millennials to stay for five or more years - as long as they receive training and developmental experiences they expect.
There is no question that the Millennial generation has significantly influenced how companies around the globe operate and will increasingly do so as more of them move into leadership positions. The early read is that Gen Z will continue to drive certain themes, adding their own twist to organizational dynamics. Only time will tell!