The labor market will change significantly in the coming years. The majority of the so-called Baby Boomers will retire and Generation Z will increasingly determine working life. Read here what this means for you as a company and who this Gen Z actually is.
Definition: What is Generation Z?
Generation Z or Gen Z is commonly used to refer to all those people who were born after 1995. Other sources refer to the years 1996 or 2000 as the start of Generation Z – the exact start and end year is therefore not clearly defined. Gen Z is the successor to Generation Y, also known as Millennials, and the first group of digital natives.
Generation Z: Traits and Values
Generations are always a product of the circumstances prevailing in their time. Gen Z was born into a digital age that can no longer do without an internet connection and various devices. They move around the web like no other group of people and fully integrate their smartphones into their lives.
With most of the communication taking place over the Internet, the way people interact and where they look for information is changing in this age group. Real life is increasingly merging with digital life.
When it comes to relationships and bonds, Generation Z prefers to remain non-binding. Only your own family and close friends have top priority. Other relationships are mainly maintained digitally and are often short-lived.
The most important values of this group of people are:
- Diversity and Multiculturalism
Gen Z is leaving Gen Y’s optimism behind and looking to the future with more realism. Traditional ideals or notions of the perfect life do not resonate with these individuals. Members of this generation are quickly unsettled and seek validation from those around them. They always have the urge to realize themselves.
Gen Z can be reached via various channels. The most effective are the internet and social media platforms. The digital natives use these channels both for entertainment and for obtaining information. They even prefer to process job offers and applications via digital media.
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Generational Gap: Baby Boomers, Generations X, Y & Z
As already shown in the dating of Generation Z, a clear demarcation of the different generations is almost impossible. This concerns the exact vintages and their characteristics. It is not always clear who belongs to which generation. A possible grouping into different vintages is the following:
- Baby Boomers: 50’s and 60’se
- Generation X: late ’60s and early ’80s
- Generation Y: 80s and 90s
- Generation Z: late 90s and 2000s
The consequence of all this is, among other things, that Generation Z is occasionally not seen as a separate generation, but as a subgroup of Millennials. It is just as unclear which of the cohorts in the 2010s still belong to Gen Z.
In addition to the difficulty of delimiting the generations, there is the problem that they do not represent homogeneous groups. Despite everything, two members of the same age group can have very different values and opinions. It is therefore rather difficult to ascribe general characteristics to the different age groups.
Nevertheless, certain mean values and basic patterns emerge from studies and surveys, in which differences between the cohorts can be identified. The most interesting are the differences between Generation Y and Z, as these have the greatest impact on the current job market. These two generations are similar in many aspects, especially since they are both very much involved in the digital world. However, there are some differences, which are also evident in the world of work.
Generation Y (Millennials)
• Flexible working hours and location
• Work-life blending
• Achievement driven
• Identification with the company
• Loyalty to the employer
• Well-connected team players
• Secure job
• Work-life separation
• Search for meaning in work
• Job and personality have to go together
• Low loyalty to employer
• Demands on a modern workplace
Generation Z & the World of Work: You Have to Adapt to It
Work is not a priority for Gen Z. A steep career and a good salary are not nearly as important to these people as freedom and fun in life. At work, they are looking for clear structures and regulated working hours. Overtime is a no-go for Gen Z, because their free time is always the top priority.
The groups of today’s 20-year-olds and younger are gradually trying to enter the working world, which makes it necessary to rethink HR departments in terms of recruiting and employee management. 20-year-old (future) professionals find themselves in different ways than 30- to 40-year-old millennials and are attracted to the company by other incentives.
In general, it will be important to make special efforts with Gen Z in the future. Because of the lower birth rate among these cohorts, companies will increasingly have to struggle with the shortage of skilled workers in the future. To continue finding the right talent, it helps if you…
- … use other recruiting channels.
- … actively look for applicants.
- … engage in employer branding.
- … democratize the corporate structure.
- … make it possible to separate work and leisure time.
- … offer opportunities for compensation.
- … enable a stable and lucrative working environment.
- … create a pleasant working atmosphere.
Due to the lack of information on Generation Z, it cannot be guaranteed whether the talents you have found attach importance to these things. What is certain, however, is that HR departments will have to manage different generations with different job requirements in the future. One-size-fits-all solutions for all employees may no longer work in the future.
What Comes after Gen Z?
As soon as Gen Z starts to grow up, many are already wondering what will come after them. A majority of the individuals of this generation are just in their infancy or have not even seen the light of day. It is therefore difficult to define the corresponding formative character of this age group.
However, there is still an answer to the question of what comes after Gen Z and how this age group should be called: Generation Alpha should be called the representatives of the youngest generation born in 2010 or later. At this point in time, we can only speculate as to what characteristics and values these people have – the formative years of life for this age group are still to come.
Conclusion: Preparation is Everything
Gen Z will soon turn the world of work upside down. This generation meets the last baby boomers and will work with Generation X and Millennials in the future. The values and characteristics of these generations sometimes differ drastically, which may cause a generational conflict in labor world, which must be prevented as far as possible.
You should not forget to prepare yourself for the values and attitudes of the new generation and to adapt your work routine accordingly. After all, it’s the people of Generation Z that you need to counteract the shortage of skilled workers.
To sum up:
- Offer development opportunities, because self-realization is very important to Gen Z.
- Create structures, because these help the younger generation to organize themselves.
- Convey security, because members of Generation Z attach great importance to a secure job.
- Communicate meaning, because this generation is always looking for meaning in their work.
- Give constant feedback, because Gen Z is quickly unsettled and looks for confirmation.