The next generation is entering the workforce! The oldest group of individuals born between 1996 and 2010, or Gen Z-ers are now about 20 years old. With this new addition and the fact that people are living longer, healthier lives and/or being financially unable to retire; there will be 5 generations in the workforce.
In years prior, there have typically been 3-4 generations at a time with minor differences. The millennials have shaken this trend by introducing highly contrasting behaviors compared to those of Traditionalists, Boomers, and the X-generation. The unconventional ways of the the millennials have often been met by criticism from the elder generations. However, the fact of the matter is millennials now make up nearly half of the workforce as more of the traditionalists and boomers retire. Millennials are no longer all twenty some odd year old individuals fresh out of college; many are in their mid to late 30’s, holding various leadership and management positions. Now that a new generation is entering the workforce, criticism could easily shift from millennial behaviors to those of the earlier generations.
Although little is known so far of this newest generation “Z” entering the workforce, rest assured that the classic HR topics will pose new implications such as learning methods, communication preferences, talent development etc. Z-ers will be even more Tech Savvy than the Millennials, and will most likely respond better to a coaching approach rather than an authoritative supervisory approach. If they are anything like the millennials, they will value personalization.
Another issue that employers should consider is ensuring that their employees are trained in interacting with customers of the various generations. Many millennials are immune as Z-ers will likely be to the classic sales tactics of their predecessor generations. The younger generations seem to be moved more by helping others and experiences over materialistic objects. This means that businesses should have a “cause” and communicate it clearly to customers.
There is one thing that can be for certain; “One size fits all” solutions are a thing of the past in the workplace. Behind open minded and a having a willingness to adapt will foster seamless integration and new opportunities as more gen Z-ers enter into the workforce.