Getting comfortable with writing this introductory article, I asked the only other person in the room – who happens to be a Millennial – “What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear Gen Z?”. Unexpectedly, she said Rema, and this is not stretching the truth. A 22-year-old music sensation who had the help of social media, noticeably different, well behaved but won’t fail to voice his displeasure – his scores of Twitter rants are a testament.
Yes, that’s who we are. A typical “Gen Zer” is self-driven, genuinely cares about others, strives for a diverse community, is highly collaborative and social, values flexibility, relevance, authenticity and fantastic leadership.
Generation Z – (you can call us Zoomers or Gen Zers) is the ever online group of people succeeding Millennials and preceding Generation Alpha. There are still arguments about the exact age range of Gen Z among researchers and popular media. The mid-to-late 1990s and early 2010s (1997-2012) are the widely accepted starting and ending birth years of this demographic. The demographic that yearns to be consistently connected. Also, the demographic that is the first social generation with early access to the internet and portable digital technology from a young age.
The older generation didn’t have mobile phones in their formative years. They had to consciously seek a moment to go online on a desktop computer, which was often shared with family. This result on Gen Z is information fast, raw and hard – which can be a blessing or a curse. Believe it or not, being the first generation to have grown up with smartphones – and everything “smart” in-between, comes with its own.
For quite a while – up until now – people were critical of Gen Zers. They saw us as a generation that was too “pampered” and “soft.” They said we were “spoiled” and “unwilling to grow up.” Largely, this negative judgement stems from a misunderstanding of what it is like to grow up in today’s world in comparison to how the previous generation grew up. Let’s take into consideration Gen Zers that have been criticized as lazy because they don’t see school as pivotal. However, many Zoomers have been earning significant dollars online through various activities – isn’t that the end goal of schooling in the first place?
In the workplace, Zoomers have been stereotyped – You know exactly what I’m talking about, don’t you? “This is the problem with hiring Gen Z”. Guess what? These are the words of an employer not willing to unlearn. As members of Gen Z get older and start to enter the workforce, new generational dynamics have to take place in the workplace. The challenges and innovations that certain demographic cohorts experienced growing up often shape their worldview and behaviour in distinct ways – This is a fact. Millennials and Gen Z are both younger generations that grew up with changing technology, but they have a few differences in how they think about work and approach essential tasks.
When making decisions, millennials have a more optimistic mindset than risk-averse Gen Zers. Gen Z witnessed the instability of the millennial generation and tends to be a little more cautious and focused on generating security through their choices. Millennials have a highly entrepreneurial and inventive mindset, while Zoomers are more interested in tested and well-established channels for success.
Millennials have faced many challenging periods when it comes to the job market. They are adjusting to the idea of having a string of employers and jobs throughout their life instead of one steady career. Millennials who feel unsatisfied with their current job are likely to look for a position at another employer. Gen Zers, on the other hand, tend to use their job as a starting point to learn about other roles.
Zoomers have shorter attention spans than millennials because of the consistent flow of distractions and information exposed to through technology. Younger millennials grew up with some of the same technology used by Gen Z, but it was much less pervasive.
Members of Gen Z are used to being bombarded with information through advertisements, videos and search engines. The development of the infinite scroll in the mid-2000s, where social media users can continuously scroll down their content feed and see an endless stream of posts, encouraged Gen Zers to spend less time on a single subject and more time processing as much information as possible.
Ideas about professionalism are rapidly changing. Many millennials grew up understanding that certain features such as tattoos, piercings and casual clothing would prevent them from finding a job. As workplace environments change to be more accepting and comfortable, members of Gen Z can be expected to break more boundaries when it comes to what is considered professional. Zoomers believe that their skills and character are more important than how they present themselves and may gravitate towards more casual and open work cultures.
Relationship with the internet
Millennials have adapted to a tech-driven lifestyle while Gen Zers were raised in it. Known as the first generation of “digital natives,” meaning that they learned, made friendships and grew up online, they have an intuitive understanding of how to use and manipulate the internet to accomplish their goals and are well-prepared to keep adapting alongside technology. Millennials may take longer to grasp new internet tools but are still eager to learn and enjoy knowing how and why web features work. Gen Z’s relationship with the internet also developed a global mindset because of how easily Zoomners could witness and interact with global events in real-time.
There have been loads of research about Gen Z, but one thing is constant; they are on course to soon become the largest, most racially and ethnically diverse generation. A generation that inherited a different kind of economy with a different set of opportunities. Making its presence felt in society, politics, and the workplace – it’s only right we illuminate them.
When I found out I would have a column on THISDAY Style, I knew what it had to be. Welcome to everything, Gen Z. We’d be bringing you some of the coolest Gen Zers, talking about issues affecting us and debunking everything you thought you knew. It’s about to be a great time!