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There’s a new generation in town, and it’s one that employers better get ready for. That generation is 23 million strong and will be flooding the workforce by the end of the decade. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Generation Z.

Generation Z:

  • Is a confidence-filled group that doesn’t want to miss a thing.
  • Has the shortest attention span of any generation.
  • Isn’t quite as open as its predecessors—the millennials—from whom they learned that not everything needs to be shared online.
  • Wants to change the world.

If employers treat those in Generation Z (born in the mid to late ‘90s to mostly to Generation X parents) like they treated Millennials (born in the early ‘80s to mid ‘90s, to mostly Baby Boomer parents), it will backfire on them. Generation Z is unique, and they best get ready for that.

My experience has shown me several differences in perspective that exist between Millennials and Generation Z.

  • According to research done by McKinsey, Generation Z is on a search for the truth. “Gen Zers value individual expression and avoid labels. They mobilize themselves for a variety of causes. They believe profoundly in the efficacy of dialogue to solve conflicts and improve the world. Finally, they make decisions and relate to institutions in a highly analytical and pragmatic way.”
  • According to author and generations expert David Stillman, you won’t find those in Generation Z frequenting Facebook or Twitter as much as their predecessors. Keenly aware of software monitoring, Gen Z are more likely to share their worlds on apps such as Snapchat or Instagram.
  • Being culturally connected is more important to Generation Z than to Millennials. Many more Gen Zers suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out) than Millennials do.
  • Those in Generation Z, often dubbed digital natives, have grown up with smart phones, tablets, 3-D, 4-D, and 360-degree photography, which means keeping the attention of a Gen Zer is harder than ever. Their average attention span is eight seconds. Compare that to the 12-second attention span of Millennials.
  • Millennials are driven to succeed by helicopter parents who watched their every move. Generation Z receives encouragement from parents who urge independent thinking, want them to achieve on their own, and are fed up with not receiving equal pay for equal success at work.
  • According to an article in Forbes, “millennials may be entitled, but Gen Zers are hyperaware of entitlement and working hard to forge their own path. In fact, according to a report from Adweek, Gen Zers are eager to educate themselves: 33% watch lessons online, 20% read textbooks on tablets and 32% work with classmates via the Internet.”
  • Social entrepreneurship is important to Generation Z. Why? They’re driven to volunteer and often choose a career in which they can make a difference. There are those who hope the
  • Generation Z children were raised in classrooms focused on diversity and collaboration. According to Forbes, “A recent MTV report indicates that 91% of surveyed Gen Zers use technology to gain perspective on people different from themselves, and they believe tech can help them manifest their big ideas to improve the world.” Millennials are often described as the “me-generation.”
  • Gen Zers tend to be more private than Millennials. Perhaps that difference is a result of seeing the downfall of previous generations in the recent Great Recession.
  • Because Generation Z feels pressure to gain corporate experience early, they are competing with Millennials who are more likely to wait to gain that same type of experience. The good news for Millennials, who are more likely to chase jobs in the corporate world, is that 72 percent of those in Generation Z wish to take what they learn and apply it to their own business. Only 64 percent of Millennials have the same goal.

As McKinsey points out, the orientation of Gen Zers should be of significant importance to companies and prospective employers. “Companies should be attuned to three implications for this generation: consumption as access rather than possession, consumption as an expression of individual identity, and consumption as a matter of ethical concern.”

Smart employers will start getting ready right now.

Today’s LeadBIG contributor, Matt Stewart, is co-founder of College Works Painting, which provides real-world business experience through internships for thousands of college students each year.


Image credit before quote added: Pixabay