We know the current work force is made up of a multitude of generations which is the first time so many have been working at the same time in history and this is should be absolutely fascinating to dig in to the research and how this drastically affects businesses.
To think how we each have our work ethic and style influenced by so many factors on how and when (and where) we were raised, plus what generation our parents were in and what was passed down to them from the generation before. Millennials received a lot of attention for being entitled and lazy. Gen X receive constant jokes that they are the forgotten generation. And let’s not forget the cringe-worthy “OK Boomer” meme theme recently.
Now we have moved on to Gen Z (b. ~ 1997-2012) in the work force and many are currently attending college. There were other considerations for their name: Gen Tech, Gen Wii, Net Gen, Digital Natives, Plurals, and Zoomers. If you google about them, there are many books to read about this generation that has never NOT known technology.
They are used to being seconds away to finding an answer on Google, sending their current status to friends via a fun picture or video and learning anything they want to learn via their laptop (for example on YouTube, LinkedIn Learning, Google online courses, Udemy, Teachable, among others). They are no strangers to businesses evolving to continue to be consumer-minded and have an app for that when it comes to convenience like: ordering your coffee before you get there, order a ride from no matter where you are, order your groceries online and pick them up outside the grocery store or (gasp!) even have them delivered to you via some other third-party app. And let’s not forget, there better be Wi-Fi on the plane.
There are a lot of wonderful things about every generation and maybe some things we all contribute to regarding stereotypes. No matter age, experience or style, it’s key to learn about the people you are working with (peers, supervisors, leadership teams) or if you are an entrepreneur and business owner: your customers and any differences needed for them (should you be on Tik Tok? Is Instagram still where it’s at? How do you add online appointments to your site? Do you need an app for that?).
In this world of instant gratification, we have all adapted to the conveniences of technology so why would this new generation be any different. There’s been research shared with how they shop and even how they learn. Is anyone teaching them about those that came before them when they enter the work force or look to gain professional experience working with entrepreneurs, startups or small business owners?
I’d like to recommend taking a look at Lindsey Pollak’s research, read or listen (thank you, Audible) to her latest book, The Remix, How to Lead and Succeed in the Multigenerational Workplace and even her new podcast, The Work Remix, for any limited on time or attention span. It is really powerful how she is able to easily translate lots of research in to actionable items (let’s bring back apprenticeships! Skip the ping pong table for more time in nature!). She is kind and provides refreshing ideas on how to adapt our work styles to others as well as what is important in the workforce. She is also really against generational shaming. ALL OF IT. And that’s beautiful.
So, before we roll our eyes and throw a generational comment at someone, can we get to know each other better and be flexible and adaptable in how we find and work toward our common goals? For one, I’m excited working with iGen and am always asking myself (as a loud and proud Gen Xer) how I can adapt or meet their learning styles. All in fun, I do wish they would read my emails but I might have to let that go and get more used to text.