Sharon Koehler

Artistic Stone Design

Who’s Next?For the last decade, if not longer, there has been a lot of hoopla over the Millennials. You know, those people born between 1981 and 1996, which makes them anywhere from 23 to 38 years old. We have attended seminars on multi-generational workplaces and how to make them work. Boomers don’t understand them. Bosses struggle to figure out what makes them tick. Surveys have been taken, books and blogs written and company policies and programs have been reviewed, all to deal with “The Millennials.”

Well, guess what? The Millennials are no longer the ones to be stressing about. Gen Z (iGen, Gen Tech, Gen Wii or Net Gen, depending on who you talk to) is now coming onto the scene. The oldest ones are 22, fresh out of college or trade school, and looking to make an impact in the work force. 

So what exactly do we know about Gen Z? They are mobile. Over 20 percent of Gen Z had a smartphone by the time they were 10. They grew up being mobile and connected. Their parents are tech savvy, and Gen Z is even more so. They grew up playing with their parent’s cell phones and tablets before they got their own. My young Gen Z grandson was at my house last week, and he fixed my brand new tablet. I tried for days to fix it and couldn’t. Neither could my roommate. He asked if he could play with it. I told him it was broken, and how it was broken and that I needed to take it somewhere to get it fixed. A few minutes later he brought it to me in the kitchen and said “Here, grandma, all fixed.” What can I say? I let him play with it. 

Gen Z can multitask exceptionally well. They have grown up in an ever changing, fast-paced tech environment, where things change in the blink of an eye. They can text, talk on the phone, watch a You Tube video and type a presentation all at the same time and not blink an eye. 

However, these multitasking skills do come with drawbacks. Gen Z has the shortest attention span of any generation, about 8 seconds. (A goldfish has a longer attention span.) To be fair, that doesn’t mean they work 8 seconds at a time. It means you have about 8 seconds to grab their attention. Once you grab their attention they do have the ability to focus on projects, outcomes or anything else you need. 

Gen Z does want to work hard, learn and do a good job. They are very interested in their own financial futures. The oldest ones were growing up during the 2008 financial crisis and watched a lot of people struggle, including members of their own families, and they witnessed a lot of long-term after effects. In a recent survey, over 30 percent of Gen Z said they wanted to start saving for their retirement in their 20s. That is great financial planning.

Who’s Next?Now, admittedly, I am a Boomer. I have always lived by the adage, “If your boss isn’t talking to you, everything is fine.” Not that I am not on good speaking terms with my boss, it just means everything is fine, keep doing what you’re doing. Gen Z doesn’t feel that way. They grew up in a world of reviews and constant, instant feedback. They want this from their supervisors as well. They always want to know how they are doing. Not just the good, but the bad and the ugly, as well. They want a constant line of communication between themselves and their managers and bosses. This may be difficult and / or exhausting for some managers – especially if they are not used to this kind of constant interaction. 

Another possible drawback to Gen Z is their social skills. True, Gen Z is very global. They have a lot of different friends and they have developed a very diverse, cultural environment for themselves, but a lot of that interaction is screen time. Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, etc. are their communication platforms. Plus, they grew up in a world of YouTube, emojis and abbreviations that go far beyond LOL, BRB and EOB.  The good news here, again, is that they want to learn and do a good job. They are easily teachable, and because the environment they have created for themselves is so diverse, once they get the hang of it and feel comfortable, they will probably bring some things to the table you never thought of. 

Gen Z is young, energetic and the most tech savvy generation of all time. What will you let them do for you?

Please send your thoughts on this article to Sharon Koehler at