Move over, everyone! A new generation is about to graduate and join our workforce. While there are still some differences in what researchers are claiming as the year range of Generation Z, the older ones are in their late teens/early 20s. They are the first generation to totally grow up with smartphones. Most probably don’t ever remember a world without social media, flat screen TVs and information retrieval at their fingertips.
So what does the research say? Not much. As Generation Z still consists of some toddlers, it is difficult to pinpoint a lot of characteristics. What we know is that they usually want everything instantaneously. They are used to checking their email, posting a live video on Periscope, texting GIFs and emojis and playing Pokemon Go all right from their phones. And, guess what? They probably do all of those things in the matter of two minutes or less.
There is certainly something to be said about how to market to this generation as with any other but what’s this millennial’s take on Gen Z entering the workforce? Well, here’s what I can say. As a millennial, I know what it’s like to be constantly stereotyped on a daily basis, to have inaccurate assumptions made about my work ethic and to have my technical skills and abilities be brushed off as a result of my generation rather than attributed to my commitment to learning and growing.
When everyone asks me if I’m afraid of Gen Z joining me in the workplace or if I predict challenges with working with them, my answer is no to both. While I think there is value in understanding some of the different characteristics of each generation, I do not see value in making assumptions about the actual people who fall into those generations. Information should be used to help people work better together, not to create more silos and stereotypes.
As a leader, I’m prepared to adapt my style to Gen Z and find creative ways to make sure that they receive information as instantaneously as possible so that they can be productive. As a coworker, I’m excited to learn about their perspectives on how to incorporate new technology into the workplace. As a learning professional, I can’t wait to hear their ideas about building in newer social media platforms into our training programs. As an HR team member, I am dying to know what benefits are important to them and how they like to be recognized for exceptional accomplishments.
So, to everyone who has been asking, this is my millennial view on Gen Z and the future of work. I’ve already made room for Gen Z and plan to welcome them with open arms and an open mind. The idea of having five generations in the workplace excites me. What an amazing opportunity to add another new layer of diverse ideas and people to our work!
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