THE GENERATION GAP: Motivation & What Employees Want - part 4 - Generation Z
February 22, 2023
Welcome back to our motivational analysis of the Generation Gap. In the previous article (3 of 4) we covered Millennials. Today, we’re looking at the youngest generation, Generation Z.
Generation Z: born after 1996
WHAT GEN Z CAN OFFER:
Whereas Millennials grew up as the technology continually evolved and changed, Generation Z have always had advanced technology, and are therefore digitally fluent. The difference here is subtle. Millennials are more about flexibility and adaptability (having had to continually adjust to changes), whereas Generation Z are about extreme proficiency with the current technological tools. A friend of mine entered university as an older-adult student studying film. He was surrounded by Gen Z students. He considered himself a good editor and cinematographer, but when one of the classmates managed to make and edit a video within just a few minutes—during the lecture and without interrupting it—he realised just how fast the new generation are able to comprehend and master new technology. The explosion of the social media platform TikTok is an embodiment of this principle. A whole generation are using TikTok, which empowers one to create and edit videos—some of which are more sophisticated than you would think—with just a phone. Of course, there are massive downsides to this type of social media platform, but it’s not within the scope of this article to address them. Moving on, like Boomers and Millennials, Generation Z are likely to have Expert motivator high on their list of motivators. However, they are also highly practical—they like to achieve results, whether that be TikTok views, YouTube subscribers, or some other metric. This correlates more with the Builder motivator, who is by nature competitive and focused on measurable gains. What’s interesting is whilst these are two motivators shared by the Boomer generation (Builder and Expert), they express themselves so differently because the technological, economic, and cultural landscape of today is so different. Whereas Builders might have been focused on the acquisition of wealth as a practical measure of success, Generation Z seem to be more interested in digital measures of progress. This taps into an important Maps lesson, that the motivators will always mean something different for each person. It’s all very well knowing that someone has Creator as their number one motivator, but what does creativity mean to them?
Lastly, Generation Z flourish in diverse workplaces. The workplace is only going to become more diverse as our societies become more globalised, therefore, creating an environment that is diverse not just in terms of race, ethnicity, and gender, but also in terms of age, experience, role-type, and personality will give Generation Z a stimulating environment more likely to catalyst collaboration and learning.
WHAT GEN Z WANTS:
In exchange for their expertise and practicality, Gen Z want a culturally competent employer. In other words, they want someone who is up to date, who can keep up with trends, and who understands the world we live in today. Nobody wants to work for someone who is living in the past, or clueless about how their industry is evolving, but it’s particularly galling for Generation Z, who are so plugged in to the increasingly rapid shifts in culture. Gen Z like competitive wages—which correlates with their Builder drive. They value their expertise highly and therefore expect suitable reward for this. However, they are also open to being mentored. Like all Expert motivators, the relationship with knowledge is bi-directional. They like to acquire it as well as share it! Lastly, there is an interesting point of contrast between Generation Z, and Millennials and Generation X. Whereas Gen X and Millennials are characterised by their shared desire for independence and flexibility, Generation Z prefer stability—which corresponds with the Defender motivator—much like Boomers, which shows that history is indeed cyclical!
Whilst no review of such a large and important topic can ever be complete, we hope this blog series has given you some interesting guidelines and action points on how to approach each generation. Of course, as we stated in the introduction, the best method is always to look at an individual’s motivational profile to get the best sense of who they are and what drives them—what they truly want. But hopefully identifying some of the broad trends correlating to each generation will give you a few ways to start meeting their motivational needs, and thereby retaining and nurturing top talent, whatever their age!
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You can also find more information in the book series - Mapping Motivation.