If you are hiring summer students, have teenagers slouching around the house, or you are a forward-thinking CEO, you are spending some time thinking about Gen Z. The follow-on generation to the Millennials is something of an unknown to most. The biggest question: how they are going to perform in the workforce? Fear not friends, they will blow your mind.
Robert Kennedy, just before his death, said something to describe the boomer generation that also fits Generation Z very well. “Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.”
Generation Z, born between the early 2000s through the early 2020s, are surprisingly, the generation most like Boomers (born before 1960) This means as employers you will have young adults with a strong work ethic — provided that you know how to connect with them.
Gen Z are immersive learners. The 21st century learning skills are often called the 4 Cs: critical thinking, communicating, creative thinking, and collaborating. Immersive learning means that Gen Z immerse themselves in technology to make each of these learning skills happen. Watch them complete homework or manage babysitting — it is all done online — together while each is communicating with others. Marshall McLuhan was impressed when his children (boomers) could listen to the radio and watch TV, if he could only see this generation managing all four skills at the same time through technology.
Immersive learning is really the human dimension of the Gen Z and if you understand it you can then devise communication tools that enable them to not only be productive at their work but to innovate at a rate of change not seen for 30 years.
Three things to know about Gen Z and their The Human Dimension:
1. Kardashian Kids.
Think of this group as the Kardashian Kids (apologies in advance for asking you to watch/pay attention to the Kardashians). Everything they have ever seen has been photoshopped. They know and they can see right through it but they still want to ensure that whatever they do they can be photographed doing it and be proud of it.
This is how they test their creativity and communicate. They will take pictures of everything whether you want them to or not. Therefore create opportunities for them when onboarding to share on social media what they are learning and through who — they want heroes — create them in your culture.
2. The Pope is wrong.
Recently the Pope said the happiness can’t be found in a download. With all due respect to his eminence, this generation will find happiness in cyberspace. Downloads and online communication are the norm for this generation in the same way telephones were the norm for Boomers, TV was the norm for Gen X and social media was the norm for Millennials.
For Gen Z, think linking vs liking (Millennials preference). Their critical thinking is based on the algorithm that drives their phones’ response to their questions. They are very logical. Watch for a rise in the study of humanities as they enter university. They will find Aristotle and they will love him.
3. Never Home Alone.
In the movie Home Alone, Kevin is forgotten by his vacationing parents and has to fend for himself at home alone. This situation would kill Gen Z. They have been connected to their parents, their friends, their grandparents and in my daughter’s case her great grandparents 24/7 their entire lives. Don’t leave them alone to onboard, it won’t happen. They will shut down. This generation has grown up with “group chats” and “group decisions.” Their biggest fear is being alone.
Create on-boarding materials online — allow Millennials to mentor them via the smartphone, they don’t need to be in the same room. Have “group” chats to check in, and check on. This generation has no problem with difficult conversations so don’t be afraid to engage them in the logic of the rules. They collaborate online with many people all at the same time – creative companies will figure out how to utilize this collaboration ability to make great global products, because that’s the other thing about these kids. They are all multicultural and the rules of old white guys make them laugh, except of course Bernie Saunders.
If you are a boomer watch as Generation Z matures, you will see yourself in these kids. They want to change everything much the same way boomers came out of college and wanted to change the “man.”
Suffice to say this generation will each work to change a small portion of events using immersive technology, and each of these acts will become the online narration of this generation.
For more information on Dr. Donohue’s Generational Communication Courses for employers and families please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
*This post originally appeared on the Huffington Post.