Whether you think millennial’s are independent thinkers, opportunistic, and efficient or you hate them for their cocky, entitled, lazy work ethic, a new generation is rising up to replace them —Generation Z. They possess the practicality of the Boomers’ generation, while also maintaining a wild attraction to all things technology, and are fiercely independent (hence their desire to work outside of the office much more than inside of it) much like Generation Y (or Millenials). Their desire for stability, while also demanding to be heard in the workplace is what will inevitably connect the Boomers to the less appreciated Millennials. That, alone, is enough to be excited for the coming decades, but they’re going to do so much more.
Generation Z is highly aware of the fact that Boomers have been the cause of several issues that we face today. While Boomers have been critical of the attitudes that many Millenials and Gen Zers hold, there has been backlash about things like racial and ethnic diversity (from Gen Z Republicans included), gender neutrality, global warming (and eco-friendly products), and poverty. Not only does Gen Z care about these issues, they’re willing to take action.
The combination of their “Silent Generation-esque” mentality to protest and their Millennial-esque love for technology makes them nearly unstoppable. They’re able to spread the word regarding brands that support issues they care about and about brand that have been outed for their corporate social irresponsibility. Gen Z also understands that social change needs to be done at the grassroots level, within communities that personally affect the people supporting.
Not only do Gen Zers hold brands accountable for their social responsibility, they also hold them responsible for the quality of a product and how well a brand’s value system compares to their own. Although their predecessors (Millennials) revel in the relative anonymity of social media, gaming, and other technology, Gen Zers appreciate face-to-face interaction. It’s the reason why Snapchat and TikTok are so popular.
They encourage real life interactions between users and content creators as well as creativity that isn’t offered on other apps. Snapchat’s quickly disappearing messages creates a feeling of real-life conversation and TikTok inspires musical ingenuity and comedic relief.
Although Millennials have recently surpassed Boomers in numbers, Gen Z is expected to far exceed them. According to businessinsider.com, Gen Z is more liberal than any generation before it. And marketingcharts.com says that more than 50 percent are minorities. Those two facts, coupled with the fact that Gen Z deeply cares about social and political issues that directly affect their communities, is very telling.
We can definitely expect the next decade to be filled with social/political unrest, followed by increased social/political change. Millennials have already set the course with protests against the Dakota access pipeline, police brutality, and the U.S.-Mexico border. Gen Zers have taken on issues like gun violence, school board policies, and climate control.
Growing up in a society whose economy took the biggest downturn since the Depression, will teach you some things about managing money. It will also teach you how to assign a value to old institutions of thought. One of those is the idea that going to college is the only way that you can elevate yourself. Another is that you should find a job that you can retire from. However, high school curricula, technology, and the wealth of information available online for self-education has transformed the number of opportunities available to students who decide to forego college.
Technology alone has opened many career opportunities for self-taught individuals. Entrepreneurship is an option than many young adults are pursuing more frequently because even though they care about the paycheck, they care more about the impact their making with the resources they have. It enables creativity, the ability to set workplace standards, and the freedom to work from home or in a shared work space. All of which are things that Gen Zers value. This is the perfect solution for a graduate who hasn’t quite figured out which career he/she wants to pursue. Particularly for high school graduates because there’s still plenty of time to fail and try something else.
Not only are Gen Zers aware of the disarray that Boomers have left our country in, they’re willing to do something about it. They have no problem creating chaos if that’s what it will take to get the attention of the powers that be. While Millennials are more likely to tweet about something they don’t agree with, Gen Zers are more likely to get on IG to tell you where to meet them to protest. Proof of that is in the way that Greta Thunberg (a 15-year-old from Sweden) one day decided to leave school to protest and eventually started a movement that reached across continents.
It’s indicative of the way the generation has been raised up in the digital world, but also understands the reality and dangers that exist outside of their bubble. Millennials, on the other hand, were taught that they could do anything they put their mind to… even if they weren’t necessarily qualified. They have a certain “untouchable” air about them that keeps them from acknowledging danger and failure.
Gen Z is not coming to play around. They want change and they want it ethically. They care about people and genuinely want to figure out how to make a lasting difference. They are the best part of the generations before them, who neither had the tenacity or the technology to move the mountains of the past. However, the severe effects of climate change (among other things) have been enough to break the ice.
Megan Glenn is a brand consultant and content blogger who loves words, but loves a good story even more. Telling stories through branding is her favorite and thesaurus is her best friend. She obtained a degree in Interpersonal Communication so that she could learn the depth of personal, business, and communal relationships… but also so she could psychoanalyze herself and the people she is connected to. She is a lifelong learner and thus, loves using research as part of her writing and consulting. She specializes in branding for female-owned startups and in her free time she writes and performs slam poetry.