Eye on KELOLAND: Generation Z


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Move over millennials. There’s a new generation moving to the forefront, and the first crop is going to work. Generation Z is the umbrella for men and women born between 1996 and 2010. They’re not all kids anymore. Many of them graduated from college or high school just this month. That has experts wondering how their next moves will shake up the workforce. We’re learning the sociology behind what makes Gen-Z tick and asking an expert why employers should pay attention to what influences and motivates these up-and-comers. 

“Here it is,” Addison Miller said, scrolling through his Instagram. 

Instagram gives you a better picture of student life at Roosevelt High School. 

“We post a lot of events,” Addison said. 

It’s also snapshot of its curator, Addison Miller. Addison started the page for his school, and manages the account. 

“The Instagram is my pride and joy,” Addison said. 

The last days of Addison’s senior year have the 17-year-old positively beaming about what he’s going to do next. In a few years, he’ll enter the workforce and wants to be a teacher. 

“I don’t want to change the world, I want to change people. I want to help people become their best selves,” Addison said. 

This isn’t just Oprah’s goal, but it’s actually a hallmark of Generation Z. Addison was born July 30, 2001, a little more than a month before September 11. He’s always had social media at his finger tips.

“We’re the iGeneration,” Addison said. 

 He also doesn’t remember a world without war or school shootings. 

“We’ve always lived in a world that was very protected. Don’t attack us, don’t attack America,” Addison said. 

Why is all of this important? Well, every little thing that has influenced Addison and Gen Z is about to show up in your office and you better start figuring out how to work with it. 

“Its very exciting to see what they’re going to bring the table,” Scott Zimmer said. 

Zimmer is a generational consultant and keynote speaker for BridgeWorks in Minneapolis, and he frequently speaks in KELOLAND. He’s already noticing what’s shaping Gen Z. Here are a few influencers. Z-ers were born into the internet and YouTube, they’re socially conscious, and more accepting than previous generations. 

“They’ve never known an Ellen from the ’80s who was a stand-up comic. She was always a lesbian with a talk show, and they don’t flinch at that,” Zimmer said. 

Employers, listen up. Here are some other Z traits you’ll want to pay attention to. This generation is inquisitive. Zimmer says, thanks to YouTube tutorials and Buzzfeed lists, Z loves step-by-step instructions. There’s another hand that guides this group: it’s the generation that MySpaced so Z can Instagram. KELOLAND’s Angela Kennecke introduced millennials to our viewers in 2012. 

“Not only is plenty of feedback important to the millennial worker, but so is the ability to move up and move up quickly,” Kennecke said in 2012.

“Early on, millennials were always sort of told to follow your dreams, reach for the stars. A lot of parents were saying, ‘look, if you’re going to work for as long as I did and as hard as I did, Find something you love and make it count,” Zimmer said.

Then the recession happened. After 2007, Millennials sank into a last place no participation trophy could fix. 

“This generation is saddled with all this student debt, and they get so much grief because a lot of them still live at home,” Zimmer said. 

Zimmer says this is a big reason why Addison and his peers are risk-averse when it comes to jobs. 

“They’re looking at longevity and stability and finding an industry that isn’t going to be fickle and is going to be there for the long run,” Zimmer said.

Addison has a different take on taking risks. 

“We’re a lot more open to danger. A lot more open to stupid things like eating Tide Pods,” Addison said.

First of all, don’t eat Tide Pods. Second, let Addison explain the rationale many of us old-timers think is anything but rational. 

“I get a million views on YouTube. It sounds like a dumb situation, but a million views on YouTube is a lot of money,” Addison said. 

Knowing how to turn social media comments into cash could help Generation Z boost a business’s bottom line. Zimmer says if employers pay attention, they can harness Z’s unique thinking and approach to work.  

“If industries (and) managers, if they’re treating them the same way they’re treating millennials, if that’s the approach, it’s not going to work,” Zimmer said. 

Click Rain CEO Natalie Eisenberg is already seeing new graduates apply for jobs and internships. With all this fuss over Z, she says don’t forget the ABC’s of the office. In short, value the other generations. 

“We all kind of have to recognize, while we have differences, we can come to the table and we can learn from each other and everyone has something to teach us no matter what generation they’re in,” Eisenberg said. 

Just like Instagram, we’re only getting a snapshot of Generation Z. Zimmer says experts need a few years to truly know Z’s influence on the workplace and world. 

“They’re not fully cooked yet, so to speak. So, we’re going to see how this all shakes out,” Zimmer said. 

Miller is optimistic about his generation, and can’t wait to see what develops.

“Whatever that mark may be, I just hope it’s a lasting one. I just hope it doesn’t get brushed over by the sands of time. I hope it stays. I hope we leave a mark that matters,” Addison said. 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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