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Although millennials have captured the minds, interest, and imagination of the corporate world for over a decade now, they remain a mystery to many CEOs and executives. Some leaders are even totally ignoring them when it comes to building their talent management or marketing strategy, a painful mistake that is costing them profit and in some cases even driving them out of business.
However, that misstep pales in comparison to the tsunami in formation that will sweep away unsuspecting and unprepared companies.
It’s Generation Z, the next generation of worker and consumer that’s already making noise.
Let’s look at three of Gen Z’s characteristics and their impact on how we work and market.
Gen Z is the generation born between the mid-1990s and 2012. This is the biggest generation of all time, with around two billion people worldwide, 60 million of whom are in the US.
By 2020, they will represent 40% of US consumers and 7% of the workforce. We cannot afford to misunderstand them.
This generation is also the most diverse generation in American history, with 1 in 7 births being multiracial as of 2015. For perspective, only 1% of US births were multi-racial in 1970. They embrace diversity in terms of race, gender, religion, culture.
Those profound demographics point to a brighter future where racism and discrimination will diminish rapidly, but they also require a complete overhaul of how we market and engage employees and customers.
Because of their diversity, data-driven psychographic information is more insightful than data-driven demographics to effectively reach Gen Z. For example a marketing strategy centered around race data will produce clichés and alienate Gen Zers since they will no longer identify with stereotypes.
True Digital Natives
Gen Z is the first generation of true digital natives. They always knew internet. Their brains are wired around technology, Wi-Fi is like oxygen, and multi-tasking is a way of life.
Do not expect them to come to work without their beloved tech devices or without checking their social media. Gone are the days where IT departments decided on the solutions and the users were forced to adopt. IT departments must now ensure that user behaviors drive applications while balancing the challenges of delivering stability and security.
Gen Z cannot stay still. How do you engage and market to someone with a span of attention of seconds? You must grab their attention with short and edgy messages.
They can do almost anything from the touch of button, anytime, anywhere, and they expect to keep this flexibility at work.
Remote work is currently a hot issue. Indeed, it implies a change of mindsetmoving from a time-driven culture to a performance-based culture. It necessitates new processes that must be implemented with thoughtful training, proper infrastructure, and effective goal setting and performance management to set up remote workers for success.
For this reason, many companies are reluctant to implement flexible work policies. But in the future, those that don’t ride this wave will be left behind. Flexible work arrangements and remote work will become a key benefit to attract and retain top talent.
Movers and Shakers
Contrary to the millennials who grew up during a prosperous time with the belief that everything is possible, Gen Z is more pragmatic and cautious.
They’ve seen their parents struggle through the great recession, witnessed periods of unemployment due to never-ending corporate reorganizations, and watched in horror as global (and home-grown) terrorism has become a constant threat.
They grew up with a sense of being resourceful and driven to face hardships. They’ve also witnessed the rise of the startup movement that nurtures their desire for running their own business, being in control of their own destiny, and fighting for change.
Because they are media and tech savvy, they can create movements much faster than any previous generation. The march organized by the Parkland students is one example of how quickly they can mobilize and influence masses in a matter of days.
Gen Z is challenging how we work, market and live. Companies must be ready to break the status quo and embrace innovation to capture future top talent and win over these highly influential consumers.
Former tech executive Cindy Montgenie is the CEO of New Skies Nation. As a high-performance strategist, keynote speaker, and executive coach, Cindy helps business leaders to win in the disruptive digital era, without losing their sanity by using a game changer mindset.