by Sandra Figueiredo.
The “Y Generation”, is currently revolutionizing the way companies are run and how employees interact with clients and suppliers. If this generation is already creating a tornado of change in the area of systems, then what will happen with the next generation, the “Z” generation.
The Z generation refers to those who have not reached the age of 18 yet; those who can’t even imagine the days without Internet & social networks, as this is their daily mechanism for interaction with others and thus are completely dependent on their cellphones, laptops, or tablets. It is also called the “silent generation” for their tendency of permanently being on-line, leaving them in a virtual world, while alienating themselves from family and face-to-face interaction.
Some sociologists have categorized them as the “I” generation, the generation of entertainment culture where kids are always anxious to consume all types of products to entertain themselves such as video games, music players, and computer programs. Their relationship with technology is intuitive, natural, and in some cases, even addictive.
The current Z generation is multifunctional: able to handle various tasks simultaneously as a result of strong auditory and visual stimulation. As a consequence, they are not able to maintain concentration for long periods, as they need to be constantly switching activities. Work will be one of their multiple activities, not their only one and probably not even the main one. Because of this, companies will have to find new ways of approaching this generation not only to recruit them, but also to maintain them.
Since the “Z” generation applies to those born between 1994 and 2004, we expect the changes in company dynamics to start taking place after 2020, where drastic changes will occur not only in company culture but also in ethics and family values.
These kids have seen their parents undergo difficulties in finding a job, due to the unemployment crisis that has been felt in so many diverse latitudes or because they have been laid off after several years of work. Due to this, one of the characteristics of this generation is a lack of trust in companies. It will be a more cautious generation, one who will prefer to count on various work projects rather than a single one, which will force employees to find new ways of winning their trust.
The abilities of these future professionals are very different from those currently employed. While the “Y” are very creative and progressive, able to adapt to change and good negotiators, those of the “Z” generation are characterized for being socially inhibited and tied to the network whose high speeds have led them to expect to have everything almost instantly and thus making them impatient when dealing with medium and long term goals. Their analytical and investigative capacities are also questionable; Currently, the two most important resources at the school level are Google and Wikipedia, which although include references as a starting point, lead kids to stick with the first piece of information that is displayed, without looking any further.
For the “Z” generation, education does not seem that important as it no longer represents a method of survival. They strive to strengthen knowledge and intelligence in technology.
One of the biggest impacts that are creeping in the near future is that due to the dynamic of the new generation, a shortage of professionals whose work is categorized by constant study, investigation, and analysis, to the likes of doctors and scientists. However, the “Y” generation, who is more mature and studious, will be present for support, taking advantage of their adaptability, so that both generations will work together in certain situations, combining the education, talent and maturity of Y generation with the tenacity & technological mastery of Z generation.
Recommendations for parents of the Z generation:
- Become a user as well: if your child uses digital and interactive media, take the opportunity to join in the processes, ask them to teach you about it.
- Do not pressure your child to use technology: Do not impose the use of cellphones or Internet if the child is not ready. Discuss the responsibilities, advantages, and risks involved in entering the world of technology so that your child takes an interest in the security.
- Prevent your child from putting aside family relations and their school for unjustified use of these digital mediums.
- Educate them on their privacy and security: Warn your kinds about the common traps and scams in the Internet. Posting personal and/or family information, interacting with strangers, displaying material possessions, and arranging meetings with people they have met on the Internet are areas of high risk.