Now that you’ve worked out all the tips and tricks for getting the most out of the Millennial generation – who are classified as those born between 1981 and 1996 – while engaging and retaining them, we have some bad news: A whole brand new generation is just now entering into the workforce and they’re bringing with them a whole bunch of their own baggage.
Generation Z – or the iGeneration as they are also known – represent the group of folks born from 1997 onwards (so anyone pretty much ages 22 and younger), according to Pew Research, which has worked hard to not only gather data on this cohort but also coin these catchy names. While millennials had the tag of being high maintenance and demanding, Generation Z is rather depressingly known as entitled and lazy.
So, let’s unpack this a little. The entitled label comes from the fact that for Generation Z, technology has always been a way of life. While baby boomers came of age as television became mainstream, Generation X is tied to the use of computers, and Millennials are associated with the internet boom, all of these technologies have existed for the entire life span of Generation Z and are thus a way of life. They have grown up with smartphones and the internet in their pockets. Therefore, they have certain expectations when it comes to the use of technology, accessibility and even social media presence and is viewed as the most connected generation to date.
However, this constant drive to be connected to everyone and everything often results in Generation Z being viewed as having a short attention span and even being apathetic.
While baby boomers marched for peace and millennials were deeply entrenched in the youth movement that led to the 2008 election of Barack Obama, Generation Z has yet to find its niche. They aren’t terribly politically active, nor do they have grand notions of wanting to change their communities or the broader world for the better. Rather, reports would suggest that they’re more likely to be able to pick a preferred Kardashian before they could ever pick a presidential hopeful.
Gen Z was born after the September 11 attacks, so they have not known a world without terrorism or keeping their shoes on at the airport. They also grew up watching older generations struggle through the Great Recession and the financial insecurities that resulted. As a result of this, they are entrepreneurial and sell their ideas through the internet—think Etsy shops and Facebook groups.
Now, it should be noted that Generation Z is of course furiously denying these assertions. In fact, in a study performed by the UK-based YouthSight, 70 percent of those in the age group who were surveyed stated that they were, in fact, ambitious and ready to make their mark on the workforce. Further, 55 percent said that they – gasp! – would even be inclined to work late if it meant getting the job done (versus 44 percent of millennials!)
So what’s the perception going in? In a survey of managers performed by mobile communications firm APPrise Mobile, respondents indicated that they were most concerned about how the newest entrants to the job market were going to mesh with the existing workforce. Specifically, 26 percent of managers surveyed anticipated running into “major communications” challenges with Generation Z, while 29 percent suggested that as a generation, they would be more difficult to train than those from other generations. In fact, the apprehension towards the next generation had forced managers to really put on their rose-tinted glasses, with many managers suggesting that the oft-criticized millennial generation will prove to be harder workers than Gen Z.
Now, if you’re reading this as a member of Generation Z – or a business owner who is contemplating adding members of iGen to their ranks – take heed. Forty-three percent of those same managers surveyed acknowledged that Generation Z is way more plugged in and tech-savvy than any of their predecessors and that they see this very much as an asset to their business. Further, if the earlier survey is to be believed, you’ll have a legion of folks willing to work late!