I was sitting in my office, hacking away at my computer, when I came across a C.V of a graduated student applying for an internship position. What caught my attention weren’t his various academic accolades or his exemplary grades; it was the fact that he was born in 2001!!!! He met the various criteria for selection and was called in; when I met him, he was even more bright-eyed and bushy-tailed than I imagined.
And if that’s how I saw him, how did he see me?
‘Generation Y’, more commonly known as millennials, are a demographic cohort following ‘Generation X’; they were born between the early 1980s and mid-1990s. Conversely, ‘Generation Z’ are the demographic cohort following millennials, they were born between the mid-1990s , and currently, there is no consensus as to when this cohort ends.
Over the past few decades, Human Resources and Organisational Behavior fields have been plagued with articles, blogs and ‘how-to’ manuals on millennials in the workplace. These have ranged from how to keep millennials engaged in the workplace to what form of remuneration millennials find meaningful to how millennials interact with other generations. This stemmed from the fact that ‘Generation Y’ were the new kids on the block. Thus their integration into the workplace was of crucial importance. However, the oldest millennials are now in their early 40s. They’ve been in the workplace for over a decade and hold senior positions; some own the workplace. Meanwhile, ‘Generation Z’ are joining the workforce in entry-level positions.
The question to be asked is, what differences can we expect between these 2 generations in the workplace?
Millennials vs Generation Z
|Gen-Z grew up amid global recessions, wars, and pandemics. They are expected to be more cautious and pragmatic and thus more likely to take fewer risks and seek security than their flexible millennial counterparts.|
|Generation Z may have shorter attention spans than millennials, if that’s possible! They’ve been bred to digest information faster; think of your 10-second reels and 15-second TikTok videos.|
|Generation Z might have less formal education than their Millennial counterparts as they have been exposed to more entrepreneurial and online opportunities than their millennial counterparts, who linked success to educational aptitude.|
|Generation Z will be the true digital natives. Think about your 2-year-old nephew who can operate a laptop.|
|Generation Z will join the workforce much faster than millennials, as educators emphasise learning as being more practical and less theoretical.|
|Generation Z may have a better aptitude for face-to-face interactions because their social media sites [TikTok, FaceTime, SnapChat] have sight, sound and motion features. Conversely, millennials lack the skills for face-to-face interactions as they spent their formative years safely hidden behind a texting platform.|
I will admit that most of this is just speculation. Furthermore, it’s usually not acknowledged that individuals born on the same day may experience life differently due to gender, culture, religion, race, and geographical differences. However, it is fascinating to recognise that the fad that is the millennial is coming to an end. Makes you wonder, what’s next?!