Whether or not the name sticks, we are currently calling the population between the ages 6-20 years old Generation Z. I’m sure this group’s stereotypes will continue to change and evolve but right now, what are the experts saying about this next Generation? 

Unlike the Millennials who experienced the Great Recession while they were in the workforce, Generation Z experienced it during their formative years, watching their parents, siblings and neighbors lose their jobs and struggle to find stability again. Due to this, they are grounded, practical and frugal. In a survey taken of teenagers between the ages of 15-19, their top three priorities are getting a job, finishing school and safeguarding their money. 66% of the teens rate their number one concern is college debt and 75% say there are ways of getting a good education besides going to college. With the rise of free online educational resources, organizations may be forced to rethink education minimums if this generation follows through with their current belief system and pursues alternative forms of education. 

Another side effect of the downward economy is their “survival” instincts have kicked in and they have learned to be entrepreneurial by necessity. Harvard Business Review called them “Side-Gig Gangsters” because 70% of teens are working non-traditional jobs like teaching piano or selling items on eBay and anticipate they will carry these side-gigs into their professional lives. As organizations, we will need to think about how we embrace this generation's desire to have other forms of employment even while they are working full-time. 

This generation will also be facing a challenge not many of us GenXers or BabyBoomers understand well. Personal Brand Management – we have all heard about having a “personal brand” at work and have probably attended a workshop or two to give us tips on how to build, sustain or improve it, but this generation has been living it since they can remember. Choosing what to share and on what platform.  An interesting quality is that they seem to more discerning than earlier generations, choosing only to share certain types of information or information that represents their “brand.” They are moving away from the practice of TMI or “oversharing.” How will this affect organizations? We may need to build in time allowances for these types of activities and help them balance their personal and professional brands. 

And since we are on the topic of brands, they may or may not think much of your company’s. As a whole, they are distrusting of brands and value the odd, unique and non-traditional things in life. They are likely to turn to a trusted source rather than advertising or information produced by the company. Transparency, honesty and the ability to admit when the company has mis-stepped is going to be critical to a company’s success in attracting customers and employees. 

Whether you are ready for the changes this new generation will bring or not, we may see a more drastic change than usual simply due to demographics. In ten years, the Millennials and Gen Z will make up 75% of the workforce.