The Coming Generation (Gen Z) of Workers Grew Up with Smartphones

What This Means for Your San Francisco Bay Area Business.

Generation Z has grown up with smartphones and digital communications. Call them Gen Z, or iGen, or whatever moniker you prefer, these teens are now entering the workforce.  Before long, they’ll be young adults developing professional careers in your business. That’s why it’s important to understand just how tied to their smartphones this new generation is.

Gen Z

Millennials (Gen Y’s) are old enough to remember a time without mobile devices, and that time shaped their childhood. Gen Z’s grew up with mobile devices from the time they were toddlers, with an unprecedented, constant access to software and the Internet. What does this mean for you as an employer or manager? Let’s take a look.

They Grew Up in Flexible Environments.

Gen Z and those in adjacent age groups grew up getting things done along with others. They made plans walking and talking together. They got work done sitting and texting together. They don’t really see place being associated with a task. They can get things done anywhere, and this habit is continuing as they join the workforce.

These workers care less about being tied to a desktop or particular seat. They’re more comfortable working in casual teams, and are less obsessed with their physical place in a company. On the one hand, this means that older management styles may not work as well with them. But, on the other hand, they’re certainly more open to flexible job arrangements, remote work, and schedule changes.

They Tend to Be Less Independent

Millennials (Gen Y workers) love their independence –They’re all about being independent in every way possible, and technology has facilitated this impulse almost every step of the way. That’s why it’s surprising for many business managers to discover that Gen Z workers are showing the opposite inclination: They aren’t as independent-minded.

Inducting these new workers into your business environment may take a little more work. You don’t need to be a “helicopter boss” hovering over them all the time. However, it’s important for them to receive plenty of encouragement, direction, and an easy way to access instructions when first starting out. On the plus side, there are advantages to dependence: Gen Z’s may find it easier to work in teams, talk about what they’re doing, ask questions, and share information, which makes them better suited for collaborative tasks.

They May Have More Trouble with Their Emotions.

Psychologists have noted that Gen Z’s are growing up slowly. Part of the reason may be that they live so much of their lives on their smartphones, and less time developing other parts of their lives. The long-term impact of this is still unknown. It could be a temporary roadblock that they’ll find ways to deal with later in life. However, at the moment, it’s worth noting that Gen Z’s experience more stress, more social consternation, and a more difficult time dealing with their emotions. You may think that they’re a few years younger than they actually are.

They Speak Several New Languages

Reliance on mobile devices from an early age has some very interesting advantages. This upcoming generation has learned to speak several new languages from birth. Not national languages, but digital languages—They can speak effortlessly in memes, hashtags, IM, emojis and GIFs.

They understand how this content functions as a language, and what it means in ways that tone-deaf older generations can’t grasp. They may also prefer to switch to a different digital language to make a point more clearly or communicate an idea more quickly. Providing an open policy on these casual forms of digital communication will be important. Remember, it wasn’t so many years ago that companies had a hard time imagining how they could use IM (instant messaging) in their daily business communications.

They Possess an Entirely New Perspective on Publicity.

Publicity is a very different concept to Gen Z’s, and you can thank one service for this: YouTube. Tumblr, Reddit and Buzzfeed, et al., have contributed as well, but the trend is most obvious with YouTube. Here, anyone, especially people their age, can reach a far-flung audience and get a fast-built level of fame just by making the right videos.

Gen Z doesn’t think of publicity as something special that can only be obtained via the right actor, event, or process. In their eyes, everyone can obtain an audience, and pitch in on publicity. Expect this to revolutionize how marketing is implemented in the coming years.

They Aren’t Tolerant of Poor Advertising.

This new generation has grown up with Internet advertising: Let that sink in for a moment. Think about all the advertising ploys and ad types that they’ve seen. This experience hasn’t only made them critical of advertising in general, but also less impressed with traditional sales pitches. These new employees are well positioned to jump headlong into experiential marketing and native advertising in ways we’re just beginning to explore.

They’re Particular About What Digital Services They Use.

Gen Z has its favorite software and software fads, and it loathes to give them up, especially at the behest of an employer. This is a new security challenge: What do you do when your employees won’t listen to your data security demands? What happens when they’re convinced you’re choosing the wrong services? Buy-in is always a factor when making decisions about apps and software for your employees to use, but it’s going to become more important with Gen Z’s natural inclination to make all their own software decisions.

It’s also important to continue employee training in security, and be open about security matters. Gen Z will be even less likely to take your word on things, so you may need to get used to providing evidence when it’s time for an IT change.

For more information on preparing for the smartphone generation and all the changes they’ll bring, contact INTIVIX. We specialize in helping businesses in and around San Francisco and Oakland find the best path forward when it comes to IT strategy, solutions and services. (415) 543-1033 info@intivix.com