Millennials have been the focus of workplace discussion for some time now, and with good reason. As the first generation to grow up in the digital age, Millennials are also the most digitally native cohort we’ve ever seen—so much so that this group is commonly referred to as digital natives. As a result, Millennials have brought different ideas about leadership and work into focus.
These young professionals are challenging long-established norms around things like distrust of authority, collaboration over competition, transparency over hidden agendas, and freedom over micromanagement. That’s why you might not be hearing as much about Generation Z (also known as iGen or The Internet Generation). This younger generation isn’t nearly as comfortable with technology; they don’t see it as second nature like their Millennial counterparts. However, that same discomfort has led them to challenge many of the rules Millennials grew up accepting as a matter of course.
Why Generation Z Might Be More Disruptive Than Millennials Are.
When we examine the difference between Millennials and Gen Z, definitions become an important part of the discussion. Gen Z was born after 1996, which makes them approximately 8-13 years younger than Millennials. As a result, they’re less likely to see and utilize technology in the same way as Millennials. In fact, many of them have never lived in a world without internet, social media, and smartphones.
For many young people in the Gen Z demographic, online communication is the primary mode of interaction. For some organizations, this makes Gen Z a more disruptive force. In fact, some experts believe Gen Z will be even more disruptive than Millennials. A big part of that has to do with the fact that these younger professionals weren’t given the same level of freedom Millennials experienced as children and teens.
Communication in the Age of Transparency .
Millennials and Gen Zers grew up with transparency in communication, not just between colleagues but with their supervisors as well. They’ve always had access to more information than any previous generation, and always sought out the information they needed.
Millennials have brought this transparency with them into the workplace, and it’s become a way of life for Generation Z. And while this has again challenged the accepted norms of the past, it has also created a more informed and savy workforce. After all, information is power, and the right information can help employees make better decisions and be more effective in their work.
For example, employees want more information about what the company is doing and how they fit into the bigger picture. They want to know how the company is performing, how their department is impacting the organization, what their goals are, and how their performance is measured.
Adapt or Die: Millennial and Gen Z Employees Will Have Choice .
For many years, leaders delivered stern warnings about the importance of having a clear path and not deviating from it. They urged employees to stay on the track and not veer from the chosen direction. But Millennials and Gen Zers have broken this mould.
These younger employees have grown up trusting their own instincts and have been rewarded for trusting their gut. As such, they expect to be able to choose their own path and explore different options within the organization.
One study shows that nearly half of Millennials want to try a different job within their organization at least once every two years. In fact, 53% of Millennials would change jobs if offered a better opportunity elsewhere. For Gen Z, this desire for choice and flexibility goes even further. Some Gen Zers want to completely change industries, while others want to work remotely or on a part-time basis.
Gen Z Has a Different Understanding of Competition and Collaboration.
Millennials and Gen Zers have been brought up in a world with ever-increasing competition, which has led to a shift in the way these employees view competition. Instead of viewing it as a win-or-lose situation, Millennials and Gen Zers have brought a more collaborative approach to competition.
For example, 71% of Gen Zers believe that "partnering with other companies is the best way to stay ahead of the competition." At the same time, there is a growing desire among employees to work with and learn from people they don’t work with on a daily basis. This is happening thanks to the rise of online collaboration tools like Slack or Zoom. While teams in the past were siloed, with members rarely interacting outside their own department, Millennials and Gen Zers are using digital collaboration to break down walls and bring people together.
For many years, we’ve had a clear view of the future thanks to Millennials and their impact on the workplace. However, it’s been important to take note of Generation Z and how the changing economy and technological landscape have impacted this younger group of professionals. Because of the way the world is changing, Gen Zers have challenged many of the rules Millennials have set.
As a result, we’ll see different leadership styles, a different approach to competition and collaboration, and an increased desire for choice and flexibility among employees across industries.
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