It seems like just yesterday organizations were all abuzz about millennials: How do we recruit them, retain them and motivate them?
Well, those millennials are moving on to different life stages and have been in the workplace for quite a while now. Half of them are parents already. It’s time to start talking about the next generation coming into the workplace: Generation Z.
Gen Z is roughly defined as those born between 1995 and 2012. In the workplace, they are in their late teens and early 20s. They are a cohort of 72 million strong. Compare that to the 80 million baby boomers, the 60 million from Generation X and the 82 million millennials (sometimes known as Generation Y). Gen Z has also been called the iGeneration, digital natives or centennials.
Helping employers everywhere to get a handle on this new generational group is the book “Gen Z @ Work: How the Next Generation is Transforming the Workplace.” Written by father-and-son duo David Stillman, representing Gen X, and Gen Zer Jonah Stillman, this easy-to-read book offers insights into what has shaped this new generation and how to understand Gen Z’s upbringing and influences.
Gen Z is being raised mostly by Gen Xers, the original latchkey kids who developed independence early on. Gen Z is not the same as the millennials. Gen Z is more pragmatic and realistic, traits they picked up from their Gen X parents as well as a reaction to the societal events of the Gen Z childhood.
As the book lays out, Gen Z has grown up in a rather intense and scary world. The Great Recession had a big impact on them, as does the state of the environment and school shootings. But instead of feeling defeated, they are ready to fix things and put their stamp on it. In fact, the authors state, “Gen Z sees their place of employment as one of their main vehicles and partners to make the world a better and prosperous place.” Hence the need and the importance for employers to start learning about this new group.
For all organizations, it is in everyone’s best interest to learn about all the different generations, to learn what were the important events to boomers, Xers and millennials growing up. Millennials may be the group onboarding the Gen Z workers and may be their first boss. They would do well to learn about how Gen Z is different than their generation. It is in everyone’s best interest to get along and harness one another’s skills and strengths. Be curious and start the conversation with the new generation coming into the workplace.