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Just When You Thought You Had a Handle on Gen Y.....

    Just When You Thought You Had a Handle on Gen Y…….

    HR professionals: just when you thought you had a handle on Gen Y…. bam!  Along comes Generation Z.

    Who is Gen Z?  They are the generation of future workers who are approximately 8 to 23 in age.  Also known as iGen, Post-Millennials, Centennials, or Plurals (what??  Plurals? What’s that all about?), Gen Zers have never known a world without smartphones and social media.

    Marketers and social historians are vigorously trying to define the characteristics of this group, but the significant age swing (grade school to post-high school) is posing a challenge.  What does seem fairly evident is that Gen Z is comfortable with technology, with interactions on social media websites a large part of their socializing.  US Consultancy Sparks and Honey reports that 41% of Generation Z spent more than 3 hours per day using computers for purposes other than schoolwork in 2014, up from 22% in 2004.  Because of the prevalence of smartphones within this group, it is estimated that 24% of teens go online almost constantly.  One Gen Z put it this way, “Generation Z takes in information instantaneously, and loses interest just as fast.”

    Marketers are taking note, advising clients to communicate in “five words and a big picture”, or risk not reaching this audience.

    Members of Gen Z seem to prefer newer, more anonymous social media platforms like Secret or Whisper, as well as Snapchat, where images disappear almost instantly.  This may be partly because their parents are less likely to use those platforms, but also because Gen Z seems to value privacy more so than Millennials.  They are more likely to “follow” others on social media than “share.”  Speed and reliability are important to them.

    Studies also point to a greater sense of pragmatism and risk aversion among Gen Z.  They may have experienced first-hand in their families the challenges of unemployment or job instability; as a result, members of Gen Z are said to seek contentment and passion in their careers rather than a lucrative salary.  Business Insider magazine expects Gen Z to be “more entrepreneurial and pragmatic about money” compared to Millennials.

    The risk-aversion also shows up in their personal behaviors, with lower percentages reporting alcohol use and higher percentages reporting seat belt use than previous generations.

    Gen Z is also now the largest segment of the U.S. population, at nearly 26%.  Millennials top out at 24.5%.  They self-identify as being loyal, compassionate, thoughtful, open-minded, responsible, and determined.  They see their peers as competitive, spontaneous, adventuresome, and curious.

    The oldest members of Generation Z will soon be hitting the “career” job market (versus the summer job market).  Will you and your organization be ready?