Meeting News

Generation Z ‘coming soon to a workforce near you’ – Are you ready?

Lynn Lancaster, BA
Lynne Lancaster

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Workplaces and managers who may or may not have just grown acquainted with — and successfully integrated — their millennial employees will soon be greeting an entirely new generation, complete with their own priorities and values, according to Lynne Lancaster, BA, of Lynne Lancaster Consulting.

“We are just now seeing the beginnings of Gen Z coming into the workplace,” Lancaster told attendees at the National Organization of Rheumatology Managers 2019 Annual Conference. “Together, they sort of range from being in first grade to college-age right now, but they are coming soon to a workforce near you.”

Changing of the Guard

Generation Z, typically defined as the generation of Americans born from 1995 to 2012, includes approximately 73 million people, according to Lancaster, who is herself a baby boomer. Among the defining characteristics of Gen Z is their upbringing by Generation X parents, who themselves grew up skeptical of the institutions and traditions that their forebearers often lauded.

Americans born into Gen Z did not receive “participation trophies” or “constant praise” from their parents, but as children instead received generally straightforward feedback compared to their millennial counterparts, Lancaster said.

“We learned through the self-esteem movement that praising people for absolutely everything isn’t as effective,” she said. “It was a good try. Those of us who raised millennials in the self-esteem movement did it because we wanted to make them feel good about themselves, but psychological studies show that when people get praised for everything, they actually get higher anxiety, because they don’t actually know how they are doing. And Gen Xers, as parents, are just going to tell you how you’re doing — there’s not going to be any question about it.”

Older Gen Zers have also been closely watching millennials as the latter group continues to struggle with college debt, often working in jobs that had little to do with their academic major or field of study. They also watched as millennials struggled through the 2008 Great Recession, and while some continue to find good-paying jobs a full decade later.

Changing Priorities

“As millennials have had some giant bumps in the road, Gen Z has been watching and saying to themselves, ‘I’m going to be a lot smarter about my education — 4-year college may be too much of a waste of time,’” Lancaster said. “They are saying, ‘I’m not going to do 4-year college if I don’t know what I’m majoring in, or if I’m not sure if I can get a job when I come out.’ They are also starting new businesses at a higher rate. They figure they have these tech skills, so why not start making websites in 10th grade and make some extra money?”

According to Lancaster, these factors make Gen Z a more pragmatic and debt-averse generation than previous generations. In addition, she said it’s possible this generation could force major changes in academia, as they pressure colleges to shorten their degree programs, and make education more “useable” and less expensive.

As employees, Lancaster said Gen Z workers respond to a pragmatic approach focused on learning and training. She added that it is important for employers to point out to Gen Z workers how their training will benefit them, and how they can use those skills later in their careers. To this end, practices can offer certifications as well as stress management class, gym memberships or a financial management course, Lancaster said.

In addition, practices that employ Gen Z workers need to make sure that they understand their benefits, as many young workers, including millennials, often don’t know how to take advantage of them.

“I have never met a millennial who understood what all of their benefits are,” Lancaster said. “So, we are throwing all of this money at all these employees, and they don’t know what they have, and they don’t know how to use it. Then they start thinking they could do just as well as an Uber driver. Make sure you sit down with them and explain to them what they are getting with you.”

Lastly, older members of Gen Z have grown up in a culture where technology has allowed them to customize nearly every aspect of their lives, according to Lancaster. This means that, in the workplace, they are looking for “customized careers” and job descriptions.

“It shouldn’t be, ‘Well, here is the job description we have had since 1943, so here you go,’” Lancaster said. “Obviously the job description has to be what you need, but if they have a unique skill or talent, you should add that in. You should see if there are any additional projects that can be tailored to what they can do, and then make them part of the conversation about it. Train them in multiple parts of the practice, not only so that they can carry out different roles, but so they can benefit by having something to put on their resume.” – by Jason Laday

Reference:
Lancaster L. Keynote: What a difference a generation makes; Presented at: National Organization of Rheumatology Managers Annual Conference; Sept. 13-14, 2019; Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Disclosure: Lancaster reports no relevant financial disclosures.

Lynn Lancaster, BA
Lynne Lancaster

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Workplaces and managers who may or may not have just grown acquainted with — and successfully integrated — their millennial employees will soon be greeting an entirely new generation, complete with their own priorities and values, according to Lynne Lancaster, BA, of Lynne Lancaster Consulting.

“We are just now seeing the beginnings of Gen Z coming into the workplace,” Lancaster told attendees at the National Organization of Rheumatology Managers 2019 Annual Conference. “Together, they sort of range from being in first grade to college-age right now, but they are coming soon to a workforce near you.”

Changing of the Guard

Generation Z, typically defined as the generation of Americans born from 1995 to 2012, includes approximately 73 million people, according to Lancaster, who is herself a baby boomer. Among the defining characteristics of Gen Z is their upbringing by Generation X parents, who themselves grew up skeptical of the institutions and traditions that their forebearers often lauded.

Americans born into Gen Z did not receive “participation trophies” or “constant praise” from their parents, but as children instead received generally straightforward feedback compared to their millennial counterparts, Lancaster said.

“We learned through the self-esteem movement that praising people for absolutely everything isn’t as effective,” she said. “It was a good try. Those of us who raised millennials in the self-esteem movement did it because we wanted to make them feel good about themselves, but psychological studies show that when people get praised for everything, they actually get higher anxiety, because they don’t actually know how they are doing. And Gen Xers, as parents, are just going to tell you how you’re doing — there’s not going to be any question about it.”

Older Gen Zers have also been closely watching millennials as the latter group continues to struggle with college debt, often working in jobs that had little to do with their academic major or field of study. They also watched as millennials struggled through the 2008 Great Recession, and while some continue to find good-paying jobs a full decade later.

Changing Priorities

“As millennials have had some giant bumps in the road, Gen Z has been watching and saying to themselves, ‘I’m going to be a lot smarter about my education — 4-year college may be too much of a waste of time,’” Lancaster said. “They are saying, ‘I’m not going to do 4-year college if I don’t know what I’m majoring in, or if I’m not sure if I can get a job when I come out.’ They are also starting new businesses at a higher rate. They figure they have these tech skills, so why not start making websites in 10th grade and make some extra money?”

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According to Lancaster, these factors make Gen Z a more pragmatic and debt-averse generation than previous generations. In addition, she said it’s possible this generation could force major changes in academia, as they pressure colleges to shorten their degree programs, and make education more “useable” and less expensive.

As employees, Lancaster said Gen Z workers respond to a pragmatic approach focused on learning and training. She added that it is important for employers to point out to Gen Z workers how their training will benefit them, and how they can use those skills later in their careers. To this end, practices can offer certifications as well as stress management class, gym memberships or a financial management course, Lancaster said.

In addition, practices that employ Gen Z workers need to make sure that they understand their benefits, as many young workers, including millennials, often don’t know how to take advantage of them.

“I have never met a millennial who understood what all of their benefits are,” Lancaster said. “So, we are throwing all of this money at all these employees, and they don’t know what they have, and they don’t know how to use it. Then they start thinking they could do just as well as an Uber driver. Make sure you sit down with them and explain to them what they are getting with you.”

Lastly, older members of Gen Z have grown up in a culture where technology has allowed them to customize nearly every aspect of their lives, according to Lancaster. This means that, in the workplace, they are looking for “customized careers” and job descriptions.

“It shouldn’t be, ‘Well, here is the job description we have had since 1943, so here you go,’” Lancaster said. “Obviously the job description has to be what you need, but if they have a unique skill or talent, you should add that in. You should see if there are any additional projects that can be tailored to what they can do, and then make them part of the conversation about it. Train them in multiple parts of the practice, not only so that they can carry out different roles, but so they can benefit by having something to put on their resume.” – by Jason Laday

Reference:
Lancaster L. Keynote: What a difference a generation makes; Presented at: National Organization of Rheumatology Managers Annual Conference; Sept. 13-14, 2019; Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Disclosure: Lancaster reports no relevant financial disclosures.

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