Look out for Generation Z! That’s right, yet another generational group is fast arriving on your doorstep and it’s a good idea to get a jump start on understanding what they are about and how to make them the most productive that they can be for your company.
First, exactly who makes up Generation Z? For the most part, they are defined as the back end of the Millennial generation for which there is no shortage of research being done. Millennials are generally considered to be people born between 1978 and 2000, with the early group (Generation Y) having come of age in the 1990s and the latter group (Generation Z) coming of age in the 2000s. The difference between the two groups is actually quite striking. Gen Y came of age in the 1990s, which, in the USA, was a time of peace and prosperity. America was the only standing super power and the internet was just starting to take hold. Contrast this with Gen Z, who came of age in the 2000s with 9/11, two large recessions, the fear of international and domestic terrorism and also the rise of Apple and its culturally changing products.
According to the Society for Human Resource Management, individuals born after 1990 currently comprise nearly 7 percent of the workforce, or 11 million people. This number will grow to 20 million by 2015, 25 million by 2017 and 30 million by 2019. Clearly the numbers dictate that employers will need to address the way Gen Z approaches their work. Consider that while this group is very tech-savvy, research done by Bruce Tulgan, founder of New Haven, Connecticut-based consultancy Rainmaker Thinking, shows that Gen Z comes up short of many important characteristics, such as:
- Interpersonal communication skills
- Critical thinking
- Problem solving (due in part to increased over-parenting)
Tulgan states that they have not demonstrated an ability to look at a situation, put it into context, analyze it and make a decision. As a result, employers will need to rethink their recruitment and retention strategies when it comes to this fast rising group of people. It seems that this group will need much more structure in their day-to-day work life, with more initial direction and guidance from their managers before they are ready to work on their own.
Understanding the dynamic from which this new group of workers comes, and adjusting your employment and training/development practices to best work with them will give you an upper hand on the ever-increasing war for talent. Ignoring who they are or trying to make them fit into a system that sets them up to fail could be a very big mistake as they continue to populate the workplace.