I’m a Gen-Xer. I am right in the middle (born 1964-1979) of the workforce. There are Traditionalists (born before 1945) and Boomers (born 1946-63) ahead of me in the workplace and Generation Y (born 1980-2000) is behind me. And I am raising what is now being called Generation Z (born early 2000s) at home. Most of the Traditionalists are retired and the Boomers are retiring at 10,000 a day. Generation Y is an even bigger demographic than the Boomers. Truly I’m in the middle. The middle of the generations and the middle of my career.
Sort of like a middle child, I often see Gen-Xers bridging the gaps between the traditions and values of the Boomers and the technology and tolerance of Gen Y. It’s a great place to be and a lot of fun. From here I think I have a pretty good vantage point.
For employers, Gen Z is still an undefined workforce that will be entering in the next 3 years. How do employers plan and organize their companies to recruit and integrate the next generation? Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- The Zs are independent. Helicopter parents got such a bad rap this past decade, parenting has moved to a more let-them-fail-on-their-own approach. Thank God!
- Zs are diverse! A broad mix of ethnicities and family dynamics makes them tolerant and accepting.
- They are curious and really good at technology. These are the kids that grew up with ipods in their hands and nerds and geeks changing the world. Think of the Steve Jobs and Elon Musks.
- They have short attention spans. If your company isn’t working on something exciting and relevant, it will be hard to recruit. Start hanging around kids this age (high school) and figure out strategies that will be appealing. Hint: It won’t be base pay, health insurance and two weeks’ vacation.
On the flip side, if I could download my lessons from 20+ years of work experience into the Gen Zs I’m raising at home, here is what I would tell them:
- You might hear an employer say that you have to “pay your dues”. That means you need to accept doing grunt work for a couple of years until you get something called “experience” on your resume.
- You think you will always be healthy, but go ahead and accept the company paid health insurance and pay the premium…you WILL need it someday. And then you can get off of my plan.
- Your employer may have outdated technology. This is where you can shine and bridge a gap to the generations ahead of you.
- It is your job to communicate. Ask questions. Don’t sit and wait to be told differently.
- You may not feel any sense of loyalty and will be excited to jump from job to job and try a lot of new things (short attention span) but remember to always give notice and communicate professionally with your employer.
Some of these thoughts are basic and good reminders to convey at home. And we need to listen too. Gen Zs believe they can change the world…they just might. It will be fun to watch.