Generation Z, the new kid on the block!

While Europe is trying to pick up its pieces from a number of recent blows (extended economic crisis, terrorist attacks, continuous waves of migrants, Brexit), dropping labour interest, especially from young entrants, is one of the challenges companies are called to deal with.  The new generation, born between 1995 and 2012 and known as Generation Z (Gen Z), has characteristics and values that the previous generations have a difficult time interpreting.

“Interwork between Generation Z and Employers” (iGEN) is an Erasmus+ KA2 (2016-2019) project which aims to identify the employment and career development conditions required by Gen Z and rectify the problem areas through training programmes for both employers and Gen Zs. Understanding the motivations and skills of Gen Z is vital to talent recruitment and retention.

Who are the members of Generation Z?

The true age bracket of Gen Z is up for deliberation among experts. Some believe members were born between 1991 and 2001; Entrepreneur says 1994 and 2010 are the key birth years. Still others say anyone born after 1995 lands squarely within the category.

The previous generations have been under the microscope for many years and their attitudes and values have been analysed extensively. Gen Z though, being the new kid on the block, it is still under observation. This article attempts to give an overview of who the Centennials (another name for Gen Z) really are.

Differences – from fashion to lifestyle

So far, the prevailing style for many still tends toward the timelessly teenage: jeans, cool sneakers and messy hair for boys; jeans, cool sneakers and neat hair for girls. One of the very few studies being conducted by the Futures Company, a global marketing consultancy, reported that 47 percent of the youths it surveyed say they “care a lot about whether their clothes are in style,” compared with 65 percent for Generation Y (born between 1977 and 1994) surveyed in 1999.

Gen Z prefers spent 15.4 hours on average per week on smartphones, more than any other device. Along the same lines, they would rather have a digital conversation than a real-life discussion in many instances. They watch less TV than any other generation, just 13.2 hours per week. They are a huge nuisance to advertisers as they are not loyal to any social media platform and avoid ads by blocking them using relevant software. They have an attention span of 8 seconds and 11% has ADHD. Their favourite platform is Youtube as 70% of them watches there videos for at least 2 hours per day.

Citizens of the world

Furthermore, this group seems much less attached to traditional gender stereotypes or linear definitions of sexuality. Its stance can be described as gender neutral, the right to be whatever you want. A study contacted by the Innovation Group in the USA showed that only 44% of the Gen Zs said they always bought clothes designed for their own gender, and 70% of Gen Zs strongly believe that public spaces should provide access to gender neutral bathrooms.

Gen Z has had frightening memories of 9/11, terrorism attacks in Europe, migrants (xenophobia and racism), austerity measures, racial unrest which have influenced of what Gen Z represents.  The Recession shocked many nations and forced them to sudden downscaling in lifestyle choices; dying jobs and families packing up and moving far away.

Providing research and solutions

In a nutshell, Gen Z, who numbers more than any other of previous generation, requires serious attention and deeper understanding of its needs. As Gen Z is about to become the primary workforce of the economies, companies can’t afford to act within conventional assumptions or generational frameworks. They need to realistically identify what makes Gen Z tick and decisively act upon it.