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Do you know your Y from your Z?

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Generation Y — millennials — have been a primary topic of business conversation over the past few years. However, an increasing amount of research is now being undertaken on the new ‘Generation Z’.

‘Generation Z ‘ refers to those born between 1995 – 2005. More and more businesses are starting to examine typical Generation Z behaviours, as this group edges closer towards entering the workforce.

Generation Z Values & Beliefs

According to research, Generation Z

  • want to be independent, with a preference for working alone
  • are reluctant to share personal information, even with their boss
  • aren’t keen to be pigeon-holed into a single role or position
  • value connectivity, and believe in an ‘always on’ environment

Understanding Generation Z

Unlike millennials, who were raised at a time of comparative privilege, Generation Z were born into a world where financial crises and life-changing acts of terrorism were ‘standard’ events. Generation Z come with an inherent understanding of the ways of the world; sensible, practical, and highly cautious.

Generation Z are also undoubtedly ‘digital natives’; they show an alternative view of technology having grown up with social networking, rather than being thrust into a revolutionary digital world. Generation Z are more likely to display an understanding of the pros — and the cons — of an online environment.

In addition to considering Generation Z’s past, it is also vital to consider their future. It is this generation that will be amongst the first to experience the wider effects of climate change — long periods of drought, for example — as well as other predicted events, such as increased pollution-related deaths.

Generation Z in the Workplace

The values, beliefs, insight, behaviours, and expectations of Generation Z pose a risk to the future of existing workplace practices, processes, and protocols. Most notably, having been born into a world of vulnerability and uncertainty, Generation Z will be seeking a sense of security from their employers.

‘Security’ can refer to a wide range of factors: job security, financial security, or ethical/environment guarantees. However, as a naturally cautious group with a high level of distrust, it is expected that businesses will need to be able to demonstrate a commitment to employee security.

The way that businesses utilise technology also looks set to change as Generation Z begins to dominate the workforce. While Generation Z will exhibit a ‘built in’ understanding of technology, providing them with the skills to digitally transform the workplace and boost technological innovation, they may not place as much importance on technology in a day-to-day sense, preferring face-to-face communications.

Y to Z

Despite the notable differences between Generation Y and Generation Z, moving from a Y-dominated workplace to a Z-dominated workplace may not actually be the significant change that some businesses expect. There are a number of similarities between the two generations, with both prioritising workplace opportunity and career advancement. Opportunities for advancement are cited as being one of the most important factors for Generation Z, while millennials show a preference for growth and development.