The oldest Gen Zs are 21. They're on the job, in the market, in our families--and they are not mini-Millennials. A few years made a big difference--in fact, a generation's worth. Here's how.
First, pragmatism. This is a Great Recession gen, exposed to job loss and tight family budgets all their lives. Gen Zs say they’d give up “dream” jobs for jobs that pay more. Most are not sure college is worth the cost, and 72% want to start their own businesses. They save money more than they spend it, and then there’s the maker-hacker thing. Hands-on Zs are into baking, building, carving and coding. Since elementary school, they’ve used YouTube to find out how to fix a bicycle or plant a garden. Like their great-grandparents (the Silent Generation) Zs are likely to work hard, keep their head down and look for what works.
I see this trend when I talk to audiences. Teachers tell me Zs avoid confrontation. Employers notice a willingness to do the job without asking why. Etiquette coaches tell me business is up. All that makes sense if you study generational tends. When everyday life grows overly complex, an Artist generation come of age, in this case Gen Z. Artist generations stress consensus and civil behavior. Zs seem conformist to visionary Boomers, go-it-alone Xers and I-have-a-voice Millennials.
Oversharing is out. Among Gen Z there’s cache in NOT being on social sites. As Booms arrived on Facebook, Gen Z left for messaging apps like WeChat, WhatsApp, MessageMe. Secret, Whisper or Yik-Yak. There they chat privately with people they already know. For the most part, Zs just don’t want the whole world (i.e. FaceBook) to know what they’re doing.
Gen Z has an edge. Digital, pragmatic resourcesful and competitive, they will impact your brand and your industry. Learning about them now can help you glimpse, and maybe even shape, the future.
Author, entrepreneur and generations expert Amy Lynch works with companies that want to Harness the Power of Generational Intelligence.