In 2015, Millennial were the largest generation in the workforce, forming up to 50% of current employees, while the Generation Z is only entering their employment. Nevertheless, sociologists and HR experts predict their quick expansion to the workplace and by 2020 we will have an explosive mixture – together with Baby Boomers, X-ers, and Millennials, Generation Z will significantly reshape and reform the very concept of hired workers. While the issues of Gen Y has been commonly discussed, Gen Z remains perhaps the most stereotyped and misunderstood generation in the workforce. We know them as digital natives, infants with dissent opinions and manners of an entrepreneur. According to the , the studies, Teen Generation will be more self-centered and less driven professionals, who value practical experience and personal interactions in the work they do.
communications models and behavior of the generations greatly depend on the conditions these children were raised in. Representatives of Gen Y were able to travel since their school years, they have obtained brilliant education and a possibility to work in transcontinental, multinational companies, embracing managerial positions. Generation Y is people who want everything at a time. They do not accept daily, routine work and they do not separate their occupation from their self-realization and personal aspirations. Generation Y wants to leave their own mark rather than be another cogwheel in the clock. Same way they consider relationships in the company – Millennials want to interact with interesting people from diverse backgrounds who can teach them something new or share their ideas. Pragmatic idealists – this is how we can describe 25-to-30-something professionals.
And it is absolutely opposite when the thing comes to Gen Z.
Young people are labeled as slacks and egocentrics, a generation of ignorant consumers. Children of technology who are not able to work in a team and make difficult decisions. They were born in the age of Internet technologies and often referred as digital natives. Social networks? Sure. Paper books? Unlikely. Sports activities? Probably not. Independent, stubborn, pragmatic and over-connected – these are the main features of a typical Gen Z-er. Money and promotion won’t motivate them – the main fuel for their productivity is the interest.
Just like in college, if the task doesn’t trigger their attention, iTeens would rather buy an essay somewhere online than spend their own time. The endless information flow has taught them to brush away anything they may consider useless or has no practical value. Nevertheless, Gen Z-ers are are more focused than Millennials and are able to investigate topics they worry about on much deeper levels, yet being able to quickly switch between multiple tasks.
So where do the generations clash?
Unlike Millennials, Gen Z is a generation of realists. They have seen how dreams of their elder brothers and sisters break and do not want to handle challenging tasks. Gen Z-ers do not like disappointments and do not know how to concede. Young people are not interested in traditional careers as well – many of them started freelancing while in school and clearly understand that regular office hours are not the only form to work for both financial and professional success.
People of Gen Z not the ones to wait for something. They have been raised in relatively safe and comfortable world, where any their desire is fulfilled within a year. “Ambitious” isn’t the word to describe them and exactly this unwillingness to fight and reach the goal could become a stumbling-stone of the generations in a workplace.
Ways to teamwork
Millennials and Gen Z are so different that it is very difficult to bring them under a common characteristic. Yet there is a thing that definitely unites both of generations – that’s digital technologies. And so the love to the progress (enthusiastic and optimistic for Millennials and pragmatic and utilizing for iTeens) should be the base to build their interactions.
First things first – it’s time to fully accept new forms of cooperation. Remote workers, freelance and flexible hours are not a trend, it is the reality of modern teams. Tasks and performance can be traced in special software while discussions should be done in personal messengers. A point to keep in mind – Gen Z prefers personal communication.
The second tip – define the responsibility area. Both iTeens and Gen Y understand what a deadline is, but their tendency to procrastinate, as well as attention problems, may lead to failures. Make sure to define the deadlines and reasonable penalties for their violations. The control should be clear and impartial – honesty and fairness are the main values of young specialists.
And thirdly, “like” them. Oddly enough, the young generation is not emulating nor rivalrous. They are not “better than others”, they are “unique” – for each and any of their achievements they were praised by teachers and parents; they gather “likes” and “re-posts” in social networks and simply ignore any criticism. Compliments aren’t award or motivation to Gen Z, but their comfortable state, which affects their productivity.
Probably now is time to be the pacesetter. Don’t roll your eyes, these generations have been raised with an image of the caring, nurturing leader who is able to gain the respect with his (or her) experience and professionalism. Aggressive and cheeky style won’t make a deal anymore, it will rather distance young people away from you. “Listen to me, understand me, talk to me and appreciate me” – these words are the motto of the young generation and you should accept them if you want to win their hearts and create a strong team.
Justine Thomas has 3 years of experience in HR and is a passionate blogger, interested in career development and psychology.