The problem with your young association members is that they’re always changing. Each generation is a little bit different; they value experiences differently. How you attracted young members a decade ago probably isn’t working for you today; Gen X is not Gen Y is not Gen Z. And even if your association gets these generations in the door, keeping them there is just as challenging.
If your association is going to be around to worry about the next generation of membership, you need to know what the next generation of member values now.
The next generation wants to feel like a meaningful member of your association; they want real involvement. This is going to take more than email newsletters sent to them once a month. Generations X, Y and Z want to feel like they’re making a difference, that they are a member of your association for a reason.
Your association needs to ask itself, “What’s in it for them?” Are your new members building skills through volunteer opportunities? Are they being mentored by seasoned professionals in the group who have insights to share? Your association needs a way to get young members actively involved as soon as they join, maybe even before they join.
If you aren’t sure how your young members want to be involved, ask them. Gen Y loves getting and giving feedback; you might be surprised at what they’re looking for and how they can help your association grow.
When it comes to joining a professional association, Gen Y has a lot of choices. We all do. And let’s face it, your association needs young members. So when it comes to recruiting and retaining members, don’t let Gen Y feel forgotten; make them feel important. Think membership marketing.
The 2013 Pulse Report showed a serious lack of touchpoints when it comes to membership renewal. Make it a point to reach out regularly to your members to be sure they’re with you and getting what they need. If they aren’t, you’ll want to know about it well before it’s time for them to renew membership.
Don’t wait until membership is a problem to dig into providing real value for the next generation. It’s going to be easier to change your processes now than when you are struggling with member recruitment and retention. Start your process for understanding what your new members value and how you can offer them value for their membership now.
Now is the time to make the changes your association needs in order to ensure you can sustain your future and become a next generation association.
If you aren’t sure where to get started or how to put your plan into action, XYZ University’s Next Generation Association iPortal can help you find your niche and prove member value. This online curriculum helps you work through common association challenges at your own pace and gives you the nudge you need to make necessary changes now. Try it today!
In many ways, it’s symbolic that Generation Z is named after the last letter in the alphabet because their arrival marks the end of clearly defined roles, traditions, and experiences. After all, Gen Z is coming of age on the heels of what has been referred to as the most disruptive decade of the last century. America has become an increasingly changing and complex place.
Members of this generation have undoubtedly been shaped by crisis and disruption. This generation will largely be responsible for confronting the aftermath of the Great Recession, high youth unemployment, the effects of climate change, terrorism, energy sustainability, and more. These dark events have undoubtedly made this generation more cautious and pragmatic, but they have also provided this generation with the inspiration to change the world – and their grit will likely allow them to do it.
Coming of age during disruption means that most Zs will be comfortable being the disruptors. While Millennials tend to be collaborative and innovative, this generation tends to be sincere, reflective, thick-skinned, and self-directed, and will likely approach work in much the same way.
In the era following World War II, Boomers (1946-1964) were born and eventually became the wealthiest, most prosperous generation in history. Raised to aspire for the American Dream, this very large generation moved into positions of power and influence, and served as the workforce majority for 34 years.
With the American Dream alive and well, Boomers had no reason to teach their children, mostly Millennials, about competition. Instead, they taught them to focus on academic achievement and to be team players because if everyone works hard, everyone can win.
Enter Generation X (1965-1981). In contrast Boomers, Xers came of age during a time when change and economic and political uncertainty began to take root. They have lived through four recessions, struggled with debt and economic decline most of their lives, and watched the best educated and accomplished generation of all time (Millennials) graduate during the Great Recession and become the most debt-ridden generation in history.
Gen Xers can be defined by their independence and anti-status quo approach to life, and they have taught their Gen Z children to be competitive, believing only the best can win. They have encouraged their children to be realists, finding something they are good at and aggressively pursuing it.
Xers have raised their Zs with an intense focus on competitiveness -- in academics, sports, and other activities. This approach to parenting has many implications, but one stands out in terms of business: Gen Z is likely to lead.
Millennials in the workplace created and aggressively advocated for collaborative work environments. In fact, their aversion to leadership has been so strong, some Millennials sought out companies that boasted boss-free or team-managed workplaces.
In contrast, Zs have been raised with an individualistic, realistic, and competitive nature. They have been taught the skills to successfully defy the norm. This means we’re going to see the pendulum shift away from collaborative workplaces towards a widespread demand for, and pursuit of, leadership development.
While Millennials have been criticized for their “delayed adulthood”, Gen Z is showing signs of “early adulthood”. Educators and parents often describe this generation as being more serious and contemplative about the world. Zs are thinking about their career paths and exposing themselves to career training at an earlier age than Millennials. It’s probable that some of this early onset of adulthood is caused by parents, who are pressuring their children to be competitive and successful and to avoid the debt that plagued both the Gen Xers and Millennials.
The numbers from our global research found 46% of Gen Z said they know what career to pursue and 51% have taken a class at school focused on their career interests. Forty percent joined an extracurricular program (team, club) based on their career interests.
Zs have been shaped by the aftermath of the Great Recession. They watched Millennials become debt-ridden and are concerned about falling into the same trap. XYZ University’s survey results show 66% of Zs said financial stability is more important than doing work they enjoy, which is the exact opposite of Millennial survey results. Also, 71% of survey-takers have a paying job.
When presented a list of leadership traits, Zs ranked positive and trustworthy the highest. While Millennials and Gen Zs both value trust in a leader, Millennials usually cite collaboration and vision as most important. In other words, Millennials focus on the outcomes leaders inspire, whereas Zs are more likely to consider leaders’ attitudes and personalities. To Z, what leaders encourage others to do isn’t as valuable as how they make them feel.
Both Millennials and Gen Zs place a very high value on feeling challenged and appreciated in the workplace. However, according to our survey results Millennials rank appreciation slightly higher than challenge, whereas Zs rank feeling challenged slightly higher than appreciation.
Time will tell how Zs go down in history, but we know this generation’s influence on history will be unlike any other.
Does your organization have what it takes to engage the next generation? Take this quiz to find out.
Sarah Sladek is CEO of XYZ University. Our generational intelligence can assist you with engaging and retaining young talent and members.
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