By the end of this decade, yet another new generation will enter the global workforce.

Ladies and gentlemen, introducing Generation Z – the children of Gen X who are currently in elementary and high school. They number more than 23 million and among their top values are structure and predictability. At the same time, they are easily distracted and likely challenged when navigating face-to-face relationships, as they have spent their entire lives ensconced in the online world.

Similar to – But Not the Same as – Generation Y

Born from 1998 onward, members of Generation Z share some common traits with their Generation Y predecessors. These include smaller family sizes, close connections to their parents, and heavy use of social media and portable technology. But, as is the case with every generation, they have been uniquely influenced by their parents’ backgrounds. Common Gen Z characteristics include:

  • An appreciation for social connection, structure and predictability: Generation X parents had to be independent at a young age, because their family life tended to be unpredictable. In turn, they encourage independent thinking in their own offspring. Gen Z children have the highest home schooling rates in U.S. history, as well as high rates of households with one stay-at-home parent. Among Gen X, divorce rates are lower, in part because so many of them lived through their parents splitting up. All these factors come into play, resulting in Gen Z members preferring structure and order.
  • Multitasking as second nature: Members of Generation Z could have less developed social skills than previous generations, as such a large portion of their lives has been spent online as opposed to face to face with friends and colleagues. It’s not unusual to see a child working to absorb a textbook page on a tablet while simultaneously viewing an online video related to a different assignment and keeping up with multiple smartphone conversations. A growing body of evidence suggests that this level of multitasking is detrimental to learning and cognitive development. Transplanted to the workplace, it could result in poor performance and dysfunctional relationships unless carefully monitored and managed.

In the workplace, Generation Z employees will likely need:

  • Practical work assignment and career choices.
  • Coaching and mentoring to foster face-to-face social skills. (Unlike online relationships, for instance, you can’t simply defriend someone to avoid confrontation.)
  • Work spaces that minimize distractions and interruptions. Consider legible spaces that provide privacy and the ability to control access and choose whether or not to interact with others.

Are you ready for Gen Z? The workforce development experts at StaffMasters can help as you build your industry-leading team. Read our related posts or contact us today to learn more.


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