Every generation has its unique cultural code that’s reflected in many different facets of its life experience, including behaviour in the professional environment. While baby boomers were hard working and fiercely loyal to the employers, members of the Generation X tended to be more adventurous and individualist. In recent years, much has been said about the Millenials (in many cases children of baby boomers), who brought a higher level of environmental awareness and an anti-establishment ethos into the labour market. We are now at the verge of another generational shift, as Generation X is assuming the parental role to a demographic group defined as Generation Z. Considering that individuals from this group are nearing adulthood, it’s fair to ask the question: how can we expect generation Z to perform in the office.
Many people belonging to this demographic cluster are already working, so it’s not too early to start estimating the impact they could eventually make:
Native users of technology
People born in the mid-90’s or later are surrounded by information technology all their lives and have very little resistance towards adoption of new, more advanced devices or apps. They are especially intuitive with social networking technologies, which became omnipresent just a decade ago. This trait can be very valuable for the employers, who benefit from this native ability to handle complex equipment and negotiate with remote clients with little need for training. In fact, presence of Generation Z employees in the workforce is likely to accelerate the digitalization process that’s already well underway and provide additional impetus for bolder innovation in many business fields.
Educated and business savvy
Access to unlimited amounts of information from an early age seems to act as a catalyst for developing a passion for knowledge. However, those youngsters aren’t too interested in academic debates, as they tend to think in practical terms and value entrepreneur spirit. As a result, some of them are ready to contribute to a company even without a university diploma, forcing the employers to rethink their requirements for certain positions. It’s important to remember that individuals from Generation Z are just scratching the surface of their potentials, and to give them time to mature into leading roles.
Aversion to risky behaviour
According to research, current teenagers are far less likely to engage in risky activities such as underage drinking or driving without a license than people of the same age 30 years ago. Since they are well informed about the risks and well supplied with alternative forms of entertainment, they are largely skipping the rebellious phase and becoming socially responsible straight out of school. On the surface, this seems great for their employers, but if risk averse behaviour patterns carry over into the business realm that could actually be damaging on the long-term. It remains to be seen whether the best of Gen Z workers can turn their smarts into low-risk, high-reward business strategies or will they lack the audacity and bravado that characterized their parents both in the office and during the weekend.
Open-minded and receptive to diversity
While Australian offices are quite minority-friendly right now, arrival of a more tolerant generation promises to take us a step further towards a truly equal opportunity environment. Young people are comfortable working in a multi-racial or multi-cultural atmosphere, and they have less prejudice towards vulnerable groups (indigenous people, LGBT individuals, people with disabilities…). Gender equality is also on the rise, providing hope for a more balanced workplace in which women assume leadership positions as frequently as men. However, Generation Z also shows some conservative tendencies and an orientation to material security, which could affect worker mobility up to a degree.