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Generation Z

Gen Z Will Change Your World. Again.

This year, our team watched history unfold in the news, as well as the workplace. In 2016, 3.6 million Baby Boomers retired, and a new generation, Gen Z (1996-2012), started entering the workforce.

Trump. Brexit. Prince and Bowie. Pokemon. Guns. Protests. Vine.

The word ‘unexpected’ sums up 2016 concisely, as does ‘disruptive’.

This year, our team watched history unfold in the news, as well as the workplace. In 2016, 3.6 million Baby Boomers retired, and a new generation, Gen Z (1996-2012), started entering the workforce.

Are you ready for Z? Ranging from elementary school to college, 90% of Zs have a digital footprint. It would be easy to assume they are just an exaggerated version of the generation that came before, spending more time on social media and demonstrating more collaboration.

But Gen Z are growing up in a drastically different world than Millennials and 2016 alone has likely influenced their worldviews in ways we don’t yet realize.

Presently, here’s what we do know about Gen Z — the oldest who will turn 21 in 2017– and how to engage them.

Get to the point

Some in older generations refer to “kids these days” as having ADD, but it’s simply their brains adapting to their digital environments. Due to their increasing use of digital media, Zs can process or filter out content within a 4-second window. But that doesn’t mean they can’t, or won’t, pay attention to worthwhile content. They’ve been known to watch hours of live video-game streams and 20-minute YouTube tutorials.

Don’t waste time

A few decades ago, quality was the most prized attribute a business could offer, then it became quick and simple. For Zs, it’s all about the here and now. Time is their most valuable resource. Zs don’t expect to wait for anything.

Get mobile

Zs are the first generation to be raised with mobile devices and smartphones dominate their daily communication and searches. In fact, Zs are twice as likely to shop on a mobile device than Millennials. If they can’t click or swipe to instantly access the information they need, Zs quickly move on.

Practice inclusion

Gen Z is the most diverse generation in US history; 47% are ethnic minorities. They have been referred to as the first “pluralist” generation, actively seeking understanding and tolerance among different races and religions. Inclusion is not only important to them, it is expected.

Respect

Zs take their futures pretty seriously. Raised in the aftermath of the recession, 60 percent already have savings accounts and their top priorities tend to be finding a stable job, finishing college, and saving money. Research indicates they rate these goals above traveling, exercise, and even spending time with friends or family.

Are you ready for Z? They’re still growing up, but they’re already influencing change. Just as 2016 rocked our world, we can expect Zs arrival in the workforce to do the same.

Sarah Sladek

Concerned about declining engagement in our nation’s membership associations, non-profits, and workplaces, Sarah Sladek founded XYZ University, the nation’s first and only generations-focused training and engagement strategy company, in 2002.

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