From Where We Sit

Reaching new horizons with Generation Z

Reaching new horizons with Generation Z

In less than a year’s time, my eldest child will turn 10. She is presumably part of the post-millennial generation called Generation Z.

A couple of months ago, I asked her to choose the winners for a joke contest I initiated at the office. Over 150 jokes were submitted, and my daughter had to select the best ones.

After selecting the winners, I asked my daughter, also in jest, to shoot a video announcing the winners. Knowing that she is shy, I was pleasantly surprised that she more than willingly accepted my suggestion.

While shooting the video, she was very comfortable in front of the camera. She opened the video with a vlogger’s “Hi guys!” kind of greeting, similar to how the Merrell Twins would do it.

 

This willingness to create a video—which also requires her to sing a few lines—for strangers to see, without hesitation if I may add, seems to be very “Gen Z” thing to do.

Who are these Gen Zers, really?

Gen Zers are no longer upcoming; they are already here. While we may have just gotten a good grasp of who millennials are, we are soon going to welcome the true digital natives in our own organizations. Some of them are already graduates coming out of universities; some might even have already joined your organization a year or two ago. Gen Zers are the ones who do not know a world without the internet. For most of them, the world without smartphones can only be found in history books.

Dr. Tim Elmore, author of more than 25 books and founder and president of Growing Leaders, described in a podcast that this incoming generation is more cautious than their predecessors. Though still self-confident, Gen Zers are more cautious in terms of their outlook. They are growing up in a world that is not as rosy as the older generations have experienced. Gen Z has lived through recessions and seen terrorist attacks that ultimately paint a picture that the world is volatile and uncertain. These experiences also taught this generation to be more pragmatic rather than the idealist, to save rather than to spend. Gen Zers would rather be considered savvy rather than special. They are willing to hack through life rather than wait for life to feed them with whatever they need.

The Gen Z youth grew up knowing, rather expecting, that whatever it is that they need to know, they can simply search YouTube and learn how to do it. Speaking of YouTube, Gen Zs are more likely to be on Instagram or Snapchat rather than on Facebook. They are more likely to be entrepreneurs, to have multiple freelance jobs in a gig economy, to forego a college education and obtain learning through some other means, and to create content as much as consume them.

Given that Gen Z is the next big market and supplier of talent, what are the implications to us as an employer, as a business?

Growth of our organization over the next 20 years is bound to be affected significantly by the Gen Zers, either as a customer, talent, or business partner. For this article, I’ll be focusing on the impact of this generation on organizations that will hire them.

Sooner or later, physical offices will be challenged even more. As a digital native, the act of logging in for a Gen Z is already a sign that they are already present in the world. Some are already accustomed to conducting their meetings online. Being online for most of their waking hours also means that they are more adept at multi-multi-tasking. Their life is already intertwined with whatever they have to accomplish for school or work.

Gen Zers learn more effectively on a need-to-know basis rather than through a series of lectures. Dr. Elmore even suggested that Gen Zers would not understand a lecture until they already know or have experienced what is being taught. They grew up relying on YouTube to teach them how to do things, from playing the guitar to solving math problems. Would that change how learning modules are delivered in the workplace?

As digital natives, Gen Zers have this knack for more efficiently and effectively understanding new technology.

They have a different way of looking at things, which provides for new insights. Take advantage of that by what Dr. Elmore calls “reverse mentoring.” Learn from these new additions to our organizations on what their generation is up to and how to reach them. In return, they should be learning what we have obtained through our experience.

Let us take advantage of our experience in making sound decisions. Let us take advantage of their lack of experience in providing new and bold insights that our old and “non-digital” minds can no longer generate.

The present and certainly the future is tech-heavy, volatile and uncertain. Who else can be more helpful navigating this prefigurative world than those who are natives in this kind of environment?

Anton Ng is a partner at Audit & Assurance of P&A Grant Thornton. P&A Grant Thornton is one of the leading audit, tax, advisory and outsourcing firms in the Philippines, with 21pPartners and over 900 staff members. We’d like to hear from you! Tweet us: @PAGrantThornton, like us on Facebook: P&A Grant Thornton, and email your comments to anton.ng@ph.gt.com or pagrantthornton.marketscomm@ph.gt.com. For more information, visit our Website: www.grantthornton.com.ph.

 

As published in The Manila Times, dated 06 June 2018