Who are they? This ‘GenerationZ’, this ‘iGeneration’? ‘GenerationZ’ makes them sound like the devout followers of Zorro, and it’s true that they’re leaving their mark already, even if it isn’t by slashing the letter ‘Z’ into everything.
GenerationZ has so far received far less attention that its predecessors, Generation Y. Generation Y is the Millennial generation, and there’s been a huge amount of research, work and data to help the Millennials integrate into the workforce. But some Millennials are now in their 30s and moving up the corporate structures. The generation following, fresh and sometimes unobserved, is very different.
Any fixed date is arbitrary when it comes to humans, but it’s astonishing how the generalisations about generations has proven largely correct. The Millennials are so-called for coming of age around the turn of the century. That gives them a timeline of birth between about 1980 and 1995.
GenerationZ therefore starts around 1995 and is still ongoing until a new cohort is named – although some would expect the end dates of GenerationZ births to be around 2015.
The Pew Research Center gives 1981 to 1996 as the Millennial dates, and 1997 onwards for GenZ. That’s a recent evaluation that has been accepted broadly by many although organisations like Ernst & Young take the Millennium itself as the starting date for GenerationZ.
For simplicity, we’re taking 1995 as the beginning of the GenerationZ cohort, a cohort that is already having an impact, not least because of the numbers. In the US GenZ represents 20% of the entire workforce – 61m people. Globally, GenZ outnumbers Gen Y, a fact that will soon be reflected in the workforce.
Just as organisations had to make changes to attract and retain the Millennials, so they will again with GenerationZ. It will prove disastrous for companies to attempt to use the same tactics to gain and keep Generation Z as they used for the Millennials. The latest generations requires the latest thinking and understanding.
It will be worth it. The early data shows a generation highly passionate and motivated across the board – in attitudes to work, organisations, learning, risk and reward. In fact, if you were looking for a parallel you wouldn’t look at the Millennials. You’d be looking back to the Baby Boomers or even the Silent Generation before that.
Now that is an intriguing thought and an equally intriguing juxtaposition. GenZ is already hitting the jobs market like a breath of fresh air. No, more than that, like a whirlwind. Or, remembering the name of Zorro’s horse, like a Tornado. Be ready for the storm.