There’s a new generation in town and it’s one that employers better get ready for, because it’s 23 million strong and will be flooding the workforce by the end of the decade.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet Generation Z. It’s a confidence-filled group that doesn’t want to miss a thing, has the shortest attention span of any generation, and isn’t quite as open as its predecessors — the millennials — from whom it learned that not everything needs to be shared online.
If you try to treat those in Generation Z (those born in the mid to late 1990s, mostly to Generation X parents) like you treated Millennials (those born in the early ‘80s to mid ‘90s, mostly to Baby Boomer parents), it will backfire on you. This generation is unique. And now they are starting to enter the workforce.
Here are some of the differences between the two generations.
• According to best-selling 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, they are more likely to share their worlds on apps such as Snapchat or Instagram. Often dubbed “Digital Natives,” Millennials are much more likely to share their lives in the open on platforms such as Facebook.
• Those in Generation Z have grown up with smart phones, tablets, 3-D, 4-D, and 360-degree photography, just to name a few of their norms. According to Stillman, keeping the attention of a Gen Zer is harder than ever. Their average attention span is 8 seconds, compared to the 12-second attention span of Millennials.
• Millennials are driven to succeed by helicopter parents who watch their every move, while Generation Z finds encouragement from parents who support 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 Forbes, social entrepreneurship is important to Generation Z, a group that is driven to volunteer and choose a career in which they can make a difference. On the other hand, there are those who hope the Millennials will become more civic-minded as they grow older, but it’s something that hasn’t been witnessed as of yet.
• Generation Z children were raised in classrooms that focused on diversity and collaboration. Despite this fact, they tend to be more private than Millennials, perhaps as a result of seeing many of the downfalls of the previous generation.
• Because those who are part of Generation Z feel 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, versus 64 percent of Millennials who have the same goal.
Matt Stewart is co-founder of College Works Painting (www.collegeworks.com), which provides internships to undergraduate students, teaching them how to manage their own painting business. The organization, which operates in 35 states, hires more than 2,000 college students and paints more 10,000 homes annually.