We know a lot about their parents, the Millennial Generation — or Gen Y. But we can only begin to speculate about the newest generation, Gen Z.
Some would rather call it iGeneration, given the technology that surrounds these individuals. This demographic already makes up 25 percent of the population; that’s a slightly larger percentage than their parents about the same time.
Market research firms eager to learn more about them have their cohort start dates ranging from 1994 to 2008. There is no end date.
Some are teenagers, depending upon the exact year they were born into the cohort. Their formative years cover prolonged wars, economic recession, the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a rogue nation with nuclear capacity, along with the usual stress events of daily life. You can imagine that some members of this cohort may have already volunteered to join the military.
They have already lived short lives under much tension. Some have seen their parents come home from a war zone. Some may have seen their parents adjust to the economic downturns and unemployment. Many are exposed to harsh and negative political ads during this unprecedented election year. The more we know about Gen Z, the more prepared HR professionals, business owners, college educators and religious leaders will be for their imminent arrival.
How are their millennial parents preparing them for their adult lives and for their children’s children? What’s the impact of political and economic pressures? What might their future be like?
We know Gen Y individuals are prepared to make significant changes in business, politics, religion and education. They are questioning the status quo. We know they are typically upbeat and positive. They are family focused and provide their children with a rich environment of technology, sports, education and community service.
Many millennials have a strong social impact side and have left the profit-making world to join nonprofit organizations that support healthy lifestyles.
Millennials have also been exposed to acts of terrorism and an uncertain economy. They can offer a lot of wisdom and learning from those experiences to their children. Twenty-nine percent of millennials want to be good parents, according to a recent study by market research company Abacus Data.
Surveys in Canada show that millennials expect to have closer relationships with their children than their parents. In the U.S. both parents are active in child rearing. They are also not afraid to ask their children, “How am I doing as a parent?”
Much of what we know about Gen Z is, in part, from a few studies and a lot of conjecture. So based on conjecture from reading, listening, and thinking, here’s what Gen Z will inherit and what they’ll be like. They will inherit an understanding of how technology serves their lives beyond the games. Almost every appliance and tool of theirs will have the word ”smart” in front of it. They will be more socially aware and advocate for just causes.
With every day, a new venture and rapid changes there will be some doubt. However, their deep curiosity about the world and a thirst for knowledge rather than information will serve them well. Education will be continuous and online with colleges providing courses that interest them and shape their initial careers. They will have rich discussions with their parents, confirming what they both know. Relationships with friends will be closer and less transient on their iPhones.
They will worry about the cost of a good college education, which they will likely seek. Worries of debt will be inherited from their parents. Many will seek educational scholarships; others will join the ROTC to cover some expenses. Perhaps they will have more repayment options to exercise.
In their future, they will enter a business world rendered flatter by their parents with more self-directed teams and less hierarchy. Demands on employees will be cognitive, emotional and constant. They will have a strong entrepreneurial emphasis and seek to start their own businesses early. Having millennial parents will be a big help in mentoring and coaching them.
Imagine what their children will be like in terms of business innovation, leadership practices, and profit generation!
Bob Vecchiotti is a business adviser and executive coach in Peterborough. He lives in Dublin.