Kate Hawkesby: The low down on Gen Z - tech obsessed but socially aware

Author
Kate Hawkesby,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Friday, 19 October 2018, 7:21a.m.
They’re entrepreneurial and quick to transition to new platforms but according to one demographer, their reliance on technology, also has a downside. Photo / Getty Images

We are on the brink of a demographic handover apparently.

Anyone who has worked alongside or employed a millennial (millennials, by the way, are born between 1980 and 2000) knows the unique challenges that present.

Millennials expectations are different.

They’re focused on what’s in it for them, they expect a good life but don’t want to have to work too hard for it.

There are good and bad examples, I’ve worked with millennials who want to be CEO in five minutes, and I’ve worked with millennials who are extremely conscientious hard working self-starters.

But now we’re being warned to prepare for the next lot - Gen Z.

Gen Z are born between 1995 and 2009 and they’re about to surpass millennials.

By next year, they’ll comprise 32 percent of the global population, nudging just ahead of millennials who comprise 31.5 percent.

This is good news if you’re in the so-called gig economy, which will be the domain of Gen Zed’ers, but not such great news for educators.

The word on Gen Z is that they’re entitled, easily distracted, full of opinions, with short attention spans.

They are vocal, collaborative and want to express their views. So how to manage them?

Well, it’s more a case of how to manage the expectation gap.

Baby Boomers, who make up a quarter of today’s workforce, are now in the leadership roles, they’ve done the hard yards, played by the rules, and feel they’ve earned their position.

Gen Zed though, wants shortcuts.

Not only that, they want to enjoy work, not adhere to any hierarchy, and involve themselves at all levels.

They’re entrepreneurial and quick to transition to new platforms but according to one demographer, their reliance on technology, also has a downside.

They have shorter attention spans, are unable to sit still, or pursue anything at a deeper level.

They’ve also grown up messaging so they’re less comfortable with face to face interactions.

They won’t want home ownership, they’re more into lifestyle spending, Netflix, phones, Spotify, they see these as necessities, not luxuries. Having teenagers, I can vouch for this part.

But here’s a big upside, they understand mental health and well-being better, they’ll be less stressed and they’re more self-aware.

That, in my books, already makes them a generation worth betting on.

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