San Diego Union Tribune

Move Over Millennials: Generation Z is Hitting Town

The millennial workforce has become the center of attention in the media and the workplace for what seems like the last 20 years. But a big change is right around the corner. We have a new generation about to enter the workforce that will shake things up even before the dust settles with the millennials. They will be known as Generation Z.

Members of this new Z generation, born from 1995 to 2012, are fiercely independent, extremely competitive, and motivated by a fear of missing out on things. They are by far the most diverse generation ever, and researchers are very eager to understand them.

This Z generation communicates almost entirely through screens and not always with actual words (GIFs, videos and emoji also do the trick). Gen-Z’ers are less idealistic, and financial stability is very important to them.

Wow, why the huge waves of change from millennials who are all about flexibility, their own self-worth, and the need to be coddled and hugely appreciated or they bail with no notice, and no new job to go to? Lots of great talents, but very difficult to manage.

Think about it. Generation Z grew up experiencing the 9/11 attracts, the Arab uprising, Iraq war, daily terrorist attacks, and most importantly the Great Recession. They saw Mom or Dad, or in many cases both, suddenly lose jobs to no fault of their own. They were threatened with losing their home, or actually losing it. And if not losing it, the house might be underwater. Many of their parents’ or friends parents’ life savings were wiped out. All very sobering, and not easily forgotten. In fact, living through these events and concern about the future enter your DNA for life.

To compare, the millennials generation grew up during the “good times.” The economy was humming along, and had been for years. There were plenty of jobs so if you didn’t like this one, quit and find another one very quickly. Or you were recruited away by a search firm like Manpower and offered a lot more money. Technology was a brand new toy and millennials went to it like moth to light and absorbed all its best and worst qualities. As young people, it came to them easily and was a skill they soon developed that was very much in demand. They mastered it while their parents were struggling to learn email and cell phones. And most important may be the free spending and keeping up with the Joneses. Buying houses with nothing down and easy money from second and third mortgages allowed their parents to buy hot tubs, fancy cars and European vacations. And worry about it mañana.

So what does this mean for the way we operate our businesses and as we welcome the new group as co-workers? As the first members of Generation Z are just now graduating from college, they too are searching for the job of their dreams.

In the workforce, probably in the same department at your company, there will be grandparents, baby boomers, millennials and now Generation Z.

In the next column, I’ll talk about how this will or without planning won’t work out. Stay tuned.