Adaptation is key as Generation Z enters workforce

Time to stop saying there is complexity in the workforce with four generations working together. We soon will have five!

In my last blog, I discussed some basic information about Generational Theory and Generation Z. In part two, we are going to dig into some of the real differences between generations, specifically between Generation Z and millennials.

What age group makes up each generation? There is some variability depending on the source, however, I will side with academics and less with media on defining the groups. This is the breakdown by birth years:

  • Silent: 1925-1945
  • Baby boomers: 1946-1964
  • Generation X: 1965-1980
  • Millennials or Gen Y: 1981-1995
  • Generation Z: 1996-2015

Again, based on Strauss and Howe generational theory, each generation belongs to one archetype. Silent and Generation Z are both Artist, Gen X is Nomad, millennials are Hero, and baby boomers are Prophet.

Within each of these archetypes, each generation experiences a turning, or several key points in life that are not necessarily the same as other generations as they revolve around generational events specific to that period.

For instance, everyone experienced that great recession, however, based on where we were in our lives, that had a different impact on us each individually. Members of Generation Z saw their parents lose their jobs and houses, growing up in the aftermath of that event as children. Millennials had a difficult time finding employment. Silent generation lost significant portions of their retirement and stayed in the workforce.

Looking at archetypes of each generation helps us understand where each group is and is going.

  • Prophets entered childhood during a high time of rejuvenated community life and as indulged children.
  • Nomads entered childhood during an awakening, a time of social ideals and grew up as under-protected children (remember latch-key kids?).
  • Heroes entered during a period of unraveling and grew up as increasingly protected children (Thomas Jefferson and John F. Kennedy – both from earlier Hero generations) and emerge as overly confident in midlife.
  • Artists entered after an unraveling and during a crisis and will enter young adulthood as process-oriented midlife leaders (Martin Luther King Jr. and Theodore Roosevelt).

Education and workplace differences

Most of Generation Z (81%) believe they must obtain a college education to achieve their career goals. However, they will not go into debt like millennials have to obtain their degrees.

Generation Z will mostly like enter the workforce quickly and look for other avenues outside of school loans, such as ROTC and employer benefits to pay for education. They also are more mindful of financial issues, future careers and concerned about acquiring debt right away.

Millennials want flexibility and versatility instead.

Difference in screen time preferences

Generation Z is the generation who was always born with access to the internet and smart devices as children. Despite growing up with technology, they prefer face-to-face meetings as opposed to virtual meetings that millennials prefer.

Also, millennials are online using PCs and tablets at a higher rate than Generation Z (7.43 hours per day vs Gen Z at 7.25 hours).

Apps like Snapchat have changed the way people process information, leading Generation Z to process information faster.

They will change the way publications are written, getting just the snippets of information they want when they want it.

Differences in recruiting and advertising

Research company Forrester Research Inc. has some interesting information on how much Generation Z trusts social and mobile content compared to other generations. Now that organizations have figured out how to engage individuals with social media, it’s worth mentioning that Generation Z has a slightly different thought on this!

According to Forrester Research, only 22% of Gen Z trust posts by companies on social media, and 13% trust text messages from companies. Generation Z has a higher amount of trust — 53% — in consumer-written online reviews and professionally written online reviews — 59%. If you haven’t been watching written reviews, you might want to start reading! How about those pesky online ads? Generation Z will make as much effort as possible to avoid them.

What about the millennials? Well, 69% get news once a day and 88% of them get their news from Facebook regularly, according to research by the American Press Institute and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. They also really like incorporating video into advertising and expect employers and businesses to have a social media presence.

We all have been busy adapting our own lives and organizations to technology and social media, but it is time to look up and see where we need to go.

Adaption includes adjusting to new technologies, but also new generations entering our workforce and the characteristics each of those generations bring.

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