Five Reasons Why Gen Z & Millennial’s are Different
How to connect with the youngest generation entering the workforce. 1/21/2020 | Steve Woodburn, Promo Ponderings

For what seems like a long time, Millennials have dominated the workplace and forever changed the way work is done. However, there’s a new generation in town that’s about to dominate the business world. If you get as confused on defining various generations as I often do, here’s a quick primer. 

  • Those called “The Greatest Generation” were born between 1910 and 1924 and a great many of them fought in WWII (1941 – 1945). 

  • They begat the now infamous “Baby Boomers”, born roughly between 1945 and 1964.

  • Next came “Gen X”, born between 1965 and 1979.

  • “Millennials” started arriving in 1980 and wrapped up in 1994.

  • “Gen Z” is the generation just hitting the workforce and were born between the years 1995 and 2015.

Our world is much different than it was in 1945. Back then, hi-tech was a very large black and white television in your living room that picked up three channels, and radio was still the dominant medium. Gen Z is the first generation to be immersed in a digital world almost from the day they were born and beginning in 2020 approximately 24% of the workforce will be from Generation Z. 

Why should you care? If you own a business, manage people, or are in sales, you’ll need to understand what makes this group far different than the Millennials before them and what that means as they become co-workers and buyers.

  1. Hard to believe, but unlike most Millennials, Gen Z would rather have face-to-face conversations than text. This despite their being connected to the digital world since they were very young and spending on average, three hours a day on mobile devices. 

  2. Stability is important for them as they remember seeing their parents terrified on 9/11 and then facing economic uncertainties as the Great Recession hit in 2008. As a result, those in Gen Z seek financial security and job stability and will stay in a job longer than Millennials, but will look for promotions and raises to stay engaged. 

  3. Social justice is important to Gen Z and they want to make a difference. From race relations, to politics, to environmental policies, these young people are as vocal as Boomers were in the 60’s and 70’s. As an employer, this means when interviewing Gen Z’s, they’ll want to know why your company exists and how their role will contribute to your overall vision. They’re excellent team players if they see the bigger picture of their work and contributions to the company.

  4. They abhor student debt so are much more mindful in choosing an affordable college that will leave them with little or no student loans. While the numbers aren’t in yet, it’s looking like many in Gen Z are deciding whether a college education is even worth the time and expense. The digital world is their sandbox, a place they can learn the skills they need with just-in-time learning and oftentimes for free or at very little cost. Given that, why spend four years and tens of thousands of dollars when you can be gaining real-world experience right out of high school?

  5. Because of their having always lived in a connected world, Gen Z is able to multitask much more effortlessly than previous generations. They easily switch between tasks and can quickly check updates on a variety of apps to ensure they stay in touch. If your work environment requires multitasking, Gen Z could be a perfect fit. They also don’t delineate as much between work and home and may end up starting a task at work and finishing it up on the subway ride home or while they’re watching TV in the evenings. 

You’ll find connecting with Gen Z will be a balancing act. While they crave face-to-face interactions, you will also need to engage them on social media to gain their trust and build rapport. 

At the end of the day, we’re all human and have similar needs and values no matter which generation we hail from. Respect, integrity, trust, and loyalty are just a few of the traits we look for in others whether we’re a business owner, a leader, or a co-worker. And as John Maxwell, author and speaker on business and leadership says, “True success comes only when every generation continues to develop the next generation.” And that’s a worthy goal we can all strive towards.

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