Millennials vs Generation Z: are they really so different?
(Pssst... yes they are)
Customer satisfaction breeds customer loyalty. Customer loyalty breeds recommendation and repeat business and, ultimately, profitability.
It’s fair to say that Millennials have dominated the digital headlines for the past few years. The boom in Bring Your Own Device, flexible working and the increased use of smart apps in the workplace can be largely attributed to Millennials. After all, they were the first generation to grow up with fast broadband, smartphones and social media as the norm; to this generation, the digital space is simply just another space. They don’t make the online/offline distinction in the same way as Baby Boomers or Generation X.
Millennials currently make up the largest population in the global workforce, overtaking Generation “X”ers in 2015, and they’ve really shaken things up. For them, Yammer and Slack are favoured over email and company intranets.
There are some interesting stats out there to support recent changes, for example, 78% of Millennials say access to the technology they like to use makes them more effective at work and 59% of those surveyed by PricewaterhouseCoopers said an employer’s provision of state-of-the art technology was important to them when considering a job.
Millennials value transparency and collaboration, a fully digital environment and they like to have a strong purpose at work. Research shows they feel this is key to productivity, and while they’re not averse to working hard for their employer, they’re keen to know why they should.
However, in 2016, there was a new kid in town.
The Gen “Z”er, born in the mid-nineties and easy to dismiss as a stereotype of an even more tech-savvy Millennial; albeit one who’s that little bit better at Twitter and Instagram and thinks Facebook is for ‘old people’.
Recent studies reveal the truth to be a little more complex.
Having grown up in a digital world, this generation seeks greater connectedness and thrives on the idea of forming genuine relationships with their authority figures and mentors. 64% would prefer to collaborate within a small group in an office and cited their least favourite working environments as working at an off-site location (just 4%) and working off-site in a digital team (3%) . Given the current boom in flexible working, and Millennials’ desire to champion ‘anywhere, any device’ working, this proves an interesting insight into changing attitudes for future generations.
Generation Z are constant learners, thanks to a lifetime of being bombarded with information from disparate sources, across the digital universe – perhaps explaining their desire for honest, transparent and strong leadership. They value time investment from those with more experience. They’ll certainly deliver innovation to the workplace and they want to be engaged in the conversation but, unlike their more entitled Millennial counterparts, they don’t assume it’s theirs to dictate.
All this presents a unique challenge for IT departments.
With four generations inhabiting the workplace simultaneously, technologies have to be flexible, marrying the expectations of digitally savvy generations with the more traditional preferences of their baby-boomer and Gen X counterparts.
How does that work in practice? Take something like corporate communications; it could be as simple as making sure you have the tools to share information across multiple platforms. If your business uses VoIP, it’s worth investigating desk phone options for employees who elect to use them. There are lots of small ways IT teams can help ensure harmonious, joined-up ways of working.
The challenge on the horizon for employers is providing the right balance of technology as well as closely monitoring their culture to ensure the provision of guidance, leadership and a mix of a communication styles to bridge the generational gap.