Blog 6: Generation Z

Working with the next generation


Generation X is getting old, the millennials are getting older, so a next generation enters the labor market.

The members of Generation Z have been born between 1995 and 2012. The main characteristic to distinguish them, as identified by David Stillman and his son Jonah in their book GenZ@work (2016), is that they have been living with internet since birth.

Their motivations and ambitions seem.. well.. are … a step beyond (imagine Madness song) what Generation X leadership in organizations is used to. So let me trigger your imagination with some facts based on the GenZ@work survey.

What does Generation Z think about…?

A remarkable 91% of them say that a company’s technological sophistication affects their decision to want to work there. Apparently, they see themselves as successful multitaskers as they want to have multiple ‘projects’ running in parallel all the time.

Also, 75% of those Generation X-ers surveyed,professed that they would like to find a job in which they could serve in multiple roles at once. A generation that is easily bored, you could say.

Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) seems an important driver of their choices, making them rather adventurous and entrepreneurial. The Stillman’s suggest that the abundance of Youtube tutorials has helped them combine this with the selfconfidence to adopt a do-it-yourself attitude. So they may be well prepared to avoid boredom at all costs.

And now?

So what are you going to do to make the jobs in your company attractive to all this young talent?

I have a few suggestions:

  • Do away with the static job descriptions. Just identify the results you want to see, add your core values and allow Generation Z the space to make it happen in the way they think it can best be done.
  • Start seeing the value in the social capital that job applicants possess. Beyond education and former job experience, look at what networks they have or can access. That is the true value added for the future in which Generation Z rules.
  • Start supporting them with a talent development track from the very start, and don’t be sorry when they leave in a few years. You should invest in them and not feel you have “lost” when their talent moves away, you are now part of their social network so benefits will continue to accrue to you.

Maybe we shouldn’t call have called them Generation Z after all, it has such a strong association with sleepiness and being the last one in. The next generation is creative, adventurous and open to taking some risks to make the most of any and every opportunity they see. I think this is rather a Generation A (ok).