With each generation comes a remapping of the workplace or the modernization of business. Gen X’ers, for example, were known for their work ethic, fighting the good fight, and all-around dedication to what they believed in. Then came the Millennials, with a large focus on social communities, networking, and collaboration through technology. Today, we have the Gen Z’ers, who are now (or soon will be) entering the workforce and who will also foster a season of change.
But Generation Z is completely different from nearly every generation that came before. How so? Well, to understand that, first you need to look at the evolution that’s happened between the various generations. From X, to Millennial, to Z, there are many similarities but just as many differences. That’s especially true of the trends that will soon impact modern life and business as
Gen Z’ers join the ranks of the employed. More influential, however, is the technology that fueled this generational change.
Let’s take a closer look.
Evolution That Spans Generations
You could easily argue that technology has a lot to do with the variations from generation to generation. When the Baby Boomers were around, technology was barely starting to catch hold.
Fast forward to when the Gen X’ers were growing up and you have the fringes of modern technology. These include advancements like the first game consoles, color television, and the rise of the home computer and the internet. By the time Millennials joined the working class, that technology had advanced considerably. We then had social networks, online communities, freedom of information through the internet, and so much more.
Queue the Gen Z’ers. The true techies, if you will, that have come to age in a time of AI, automation, smart homes and wearable devices. Also known as the iGeneration. Nearly every child from about 10 to the age of consent in the generation has access to a tablet which allows them to watch online content, or a phone to communicate with friends. This explains why they are known for being adept researchers. Not only do they know how to self-educate and locate information, they are well versed in the devices and platforms such research involves. Thirty-three percent of Gen Z’ers watch lessons online, while twenty percent read textbooks on tablets and mobile devices, and thirty-two percent work with classmates collaboratively, online.
For some, this reliance on technology may be unwanted for their children or their children’s children. But today’s youth aren’t creating the technology and tablets that fuel always-on behaviors, they’re growing up with them, as a standard, as a norm. This echoes all the way to adulthood, when the generations enter the workforce, contribute to the function of everyday society, and begin to choose how they’ll make a living.
When smartphones, tiny pocket computers arrived, some were still hesitant to adopt mobile devices, and there was an air of uncertainty surrounding smartphones. So many at the time of the original iPhone launch were blissfully unaware of what would soon be possible, what would soon be the new normal.
Now, mobile devices can give desktop computers a run for their money. In fact, they offer an experience so convenient, that mobile traffic now accounts for the majority of internet traffic today. It also influences the way in which we interact with one another, businesses and brands, and even the world at large. You better believe it has had just as much impact from generation to generation.
Millennials use an average of three screens or devices at a time, while Gen Z’ers use a remarkable five total on average: smartphones, tablets, TVs, laptops, desktops, and iPods/iPads.
Which brings us to the crucial elements of Generation Z; the current generation being passed the torch, so to speak.
What Does Generation Z Value Most?
As the Generation Z’ers leave college and enter the workforce, we have only begun to understand what it is they value most. According to a recent report from CareerCast, most of the top jobs are either data and software focused, or human-resource centric.
You see, Gen Z’ers are less interested in wealth-building and large incomes, and instead focused on avoiding debt. It makes sense considering the state of the economy during their early years, which took a huge dive due to problems with debt and delinquency. This coupled with the fact that the average retirement age for the generation is expected to reach 70 by 2050, it’s important to start planning early for the future. More importantly, money conservation and budget-friendly strategies are paramount to the Gen Z’ers from the moment they enter the workforce, all the way until they retire.
Which is why Human Resources Manager, is just one of the top options for the Gen Z’ers because it offers a rewarding career journey, plenty of opportunity for growth, and the option to provide support to peers. Even so, it lands further down the list. The hot spots are reserved for tech-driven opportunities.
Generation Z also grew up during the golden age of the internet, with a lifetime exposure to social networks, open information, and total connectedness. This plays a huge role in the prospective job roles, as Gen Z’ers are also focused on not just the technologies offered, but the experiences afforded by these tools. The number one prospect, Statistician, has an expected growth rate of 34% by 2024, outlined by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Part of that can be attributed to the fact that big data, automation, modern analytics, and predictive tools are necessary in many different sectors today.
The top four job types for Gen Z’ers are:
1. Statistician: Mainly related to analytics and data science, you can clearly see the importance of both data and centralized information in the modern world. The ability to extract insights and turn them into actionable results is invaluable in today’s market, as are experiences across all touchpoints (digital or otherwise). As organizations continue their digital transformation, it’s the little pieces of data collected along the way that will really power business decisions of the future. How customer interact, what they engage with, when and how often. Being able to identify, read, and analyze these types of powerful tidbits will make employees highly sought after.
2. Software Developer: Thanks to sweeping innovation, software means a lot of things in the world today, from desktop tools to mobile apps. You can’t forget the outliers either, such as automation, smart home devices, wearable tech, the average digitized enterprise and more. These innovations are not only making it easier to travel safely and access information on your own terms, but also allowing for more flexibility in your day to day schedule.
3. Registered Nurse: The average salary for an RN is between $50,000 and $65,000 a year, which makes it an ideal choice for those who want to live comfortably. It also requires less training and certification than, say, a degree-driven career path which means it’s highly accessible. Even better, it involves helping and working with peers through social communication, something the Gen Z’ers are excellent at. Newer technologies in the medical industry also mean that health professionals, including nurses, will need to be well versed with them. However, the training process will be much smoother thanks to increasing automation in these advancements.
4. Market Research Analyst: Whether it’s for finance or business, a market analyst is tasked with reviewing and pulling actionable insights from a variety of performance data. Again, the fact that this career opportunity is accessible and pays well - median salary at about $62,000 per year - makes it even more alluring. Plus, there will be no shortage of work for professionals in the field, as the growth rate is quoted at 19% for market analysts in the coming years. These characteristics are especially important to Gen Z’ers, as job security is one of the key factors they look for when considering employment opportunities.
You can already see from these careers that technology has an incredible influence and hold over the more recent generations. Real-time analytics and data are at the core of many of these choices. Between 2016 and 2019, real-time analytics funding will grow up to three times faster than that of standard analytics.
Technology Fuels Generational Change
From generation to generation, one thing is true of the current state of business, enterprise, and the average workforce: we, as a society, must be able to keep up with and meet the demands of new generations of technology.
Today, we focus on a data-driven approach, with an emphasis on smart technologies and connected experiences. Just a generation before - the Millennials - there was an emphasis on fostering communities and social spaces. Of course, those same experiential relationships and social opportunities are necessary today, because the workforce will consist of more than just the new Gen Z’ers. That said, technology is largely the cause of the generational change that occurs between each new group entering the workforce. It also gives us a glimpse of how prepared the business world needs to be for each new generation, ready to anticipate their needs and adjust to the growing trends that follow them.