Recently I enjoyed listening to David and Jonah Stillman on how the Gen Z workforce will contribute to the organizations they work for. The conversation of any generations habits starts with the monumental events of their youth. Significant events like 9/11, Challenger explosion, Pearl Harbor, assassination of Kennedy, are all examples of these events, and likely you remember exactly where you were for at least one of these. That event shapes your sense of security and your confidence in the world.

You’ve listened and read plenty on the Millennial population – shaped by 9/11 – and resulting in a transformative (sometimes confusing) addition to the world of work. You may recall Gen X was labeled as cynical and lazy, with a significant influence being the Challenger explosion.

This newest generation has settled in with Gen Z as their name. They are currently entering the workforce having grown up in the Great Recession with very pragmatic GenXer parents. They are realistic and more driven than their Millennial counterparts. In their study, 73% of Z’s are competitive with their peers versus 42% of Millennials.

This generation is the first to be digital natives. That means they had technology since birth. It also means they expect technology to provide answers instantly. Hence the arrival of FOMO – the fear of missing out. Since everything is expected instantly, it’s easy to see how missing something would create regret. It also creates an expectation of experiences being personal, customized, and that drives the marketing industry to tailor products and services very specifically.

The other important aspect of these digital natives is their imperception of the difference between digital and physical worlds – the phigital. Video platforms emerge to connect employees working across the world, wherever they are. The phrase “remote working” will no longer exist (I wonder what will replace it – if anything) as we consider face time to mean any process by which face to face interactions happen.

Speaking of face to face – 84% of Gen Z prefer it over email. That means creating places and reasons to interact are an advantage. Go phigital – in person or via video, it’s all the same if eye contact is possible.

Being digital natives means screen interaction and problem solving through video are the norm, opening the door for training and development focused on collaboration and creativity in teams and groups. This also means the culture they are looking for includes sophisticated technology.

What does all this mean for you today? Here are some questions to ask:

  • How are you employing technology to attract talent? 
  • What can you do to intentionally collaborate for problem solving?
  • How are you connecting offsite workers with their counterparts? 
  • Do your policies carve out remote workers, or unify your organization? 

These questions open the conversation for the organization that exists 5 years from now. No need for an immediate pivot. Take a longer view with specific steps that are implemented over the next few years so you are ready to integrate Gen Z when they arrive.

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