The longevity of your business may very well depend on employees much younger than those you presently employ. As Baby Boomers retire, Generations X, Y, and Z are available to take their place, but each group is decidedly different in the way they approach their lives and jobs. Research provides important insight on 18 to 24-year-olds, the individuals who make up Gen Z and the newest generation to enter the workforce (see info box).
“The generation after Millennials, known as Gen Z, iGen or Centennials, will determine how every other generation ultimately uses technology,” writes Jason Dorsey in the National Study on Technology and the Generation after Millennials. “This new generation, with no recall of 9/11 or a time before the Internet and mobile devices, is becoming the digital shepherd of a new era in technology adoption and reliance.”
As agriculture becomes ever more dependent on technology and precision farming, team members with these skills bring considerable value to the table, and give you the ability to capitalize on their talent.
As consumers, this group has an estimated $44 million in spending power in the U.S. alone, and the figure is only going to grow.
“We believe this new, empowered generation of consumers opens the door for start-ups and small businesses if these companies can offer quality items in the online marketplace alongside brands,” Dorsey writes. “Small businesses are no longer constrained by geography, which opens up a whole world of options but also poses a danger for local brick-and-mortar businesses. Shopping in stores will become more of a pastime, a recreational and possibly even social activity, with the bulk of real buying taking place online.”
Short Attention Spans
“Gen Z’s attention span is the shortest of any generation we’ve studied so far,” says Elli Denison, with The Center for Generational Kinetics. “This means they demand faster, easier access to content. Multitasking is a standard practice with numerous devices being used simultaneously.”
Unlike the two generations ahead of them, experts predict Gen Z will be more interested in face-to-face interaction, following some intermediate ice-breaking via social media or chat rooms.
Global Awareness and Consciousness
Gen Z is considered the first global generation. These individuals are interested in meeting people from different regions of the world and from different cultures.
“I think younger generations give insights into the times in which we live,” says Claire Madden, director of Hello Clarity, a social research and communications consulting firm based in Sydney, Australia. “They’ve been so shaped in these really drastically different times.”
Their openness and acceptance of others may make them valuable members of multi-dimensional teams. “For Gen Z, their interactions, ability to relate, and tolerance of other cultures and countries are higher,” Denison said.
She adds that Gen Z is also more environmentally conscious than Millennials or Gen X.
“Issues of conservation…and global warming seem to resonate more with this group than older generations,” Denison says.
For agricultural companies to appeal to this age group, sustainable, best management practices are important. Companies taking a leadership role in this area will be better equipped to find and retain Gen Z talent.
Integrating Gen Z
Exceptions are evident in each generational group, but the general characteristics and trends associated with an age group can help you prepare and adapt to changes.
“These Gen-Z individuals are not only the best preview of future generations but also reveal the behaviors older generations will eventually adopt when it comes to technology,” Dorsey says.
The businesses that recognize these differences will be better positioned to meet the needs of an evolving workforce.