The Gen Z Expert
Didn’t we just do this with the Millennials?! It may feel like that but Gen Z is coming, whether you’re ready or not. Millennials blindsided the professional world, costing them billions of dollars. They were the most highly scrutinized generation of all time and businesses had to be reactive to adapt their businesses to their new digital pioneers. We can expect Gen Z to do the same but on a greater scale. So, might as well be ready!
I started studying Generation Z in 2014. As a part of the founding team of startup, WayUp, it was my job to engage with ‘early career professionals’. That translated to deeply analyzing the last of the Millennial generation and the beginning of the Gen Z population. After helping to acquire over 5 million college students for WayUp, I continued studying Gen Z and wrote my graduate thesis for the Columbia Coaching Program on Gen Z in the workplace. Now, I help companies refine their strategies and prepare for welcoming Gen Z’ers into their workplaces.
5 Things You'll Need To Know About Generation Z
- Generation Z, sometimes called iGen, are those born between 1995 and 2012. Its oldest members are 22 to 23. There are a lot of them, roughly around 72 million of them. They are also the most ethnically and racially diverse generation we have seen.
- They’re true digital natives. We’ve heard that term before. It means they quite literally cannot remember a time without without cell phones and constant internet access. They are the only generation to have grown up with technology rather than adapting to it.
They’re careful. Because they’ve been so digitally connected their whole life, they’re careful with technology and communication. Gen Zers are not only smarter users of social media than millennials, they also understand the implications of the possibility for online content to come back to haunt them. They think about every post and every friend request and they are less likely to cross the line of sharing too much information. This is why they prefer mediums with a ‘shelf life’ like Snapchat or Instagram Stories.
On the whole, they’re pessimistic, worried, and skeptical so they seek out impact and meaning. Coming of age after 9/11, they’ve only known a world with the US always at war. Additionally, breakdown of political discourse has made them wary of institutions and the ability of politicians to accomplish anything meaningful. Because of their skepticism, they care deeply about an institution's positive impact on the world.
They have agency to take matters into their own hands. Because Gen Z grew up understanding one tweet could reach the entire world, they have harnessed the power of social media as a clear method for communicating and getting things done. Consider how we saw the topic of gun control pushed to the forefront by the students of Stoneman Douglas in Parkland, Florida.
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In case you need further convincing that you should be focused on Gen Z... 83% of today's managers are Millennials. Yes, they are already established in the workplace. What's next? These Millennial managers are about to begin managing their first Gen Z employees. Getting this dynamic right will be a top challenge for all employers.