I am increasingly being met with stories about what Digital Natives can do and how they will influence the work place and society in general.
It is true, that you may need new and different incentives to retain generation Z in the workplace, and that is of course an influence…
In most of the developed world we are seeing a shrinking workforce and many companies will strive to attract employees with a broader background than usual – which also includes work immigrants, and people over the usual retirement age.
Organizations should strive to implement incentives that meets the individual’s demands no matter their background and not try to stick to standard policies for all to retain a diverse workforce in an exciting an innovative environment which is needed in a world of accelerating change.
Changing the organization
You should strive to employ a diverse workforce on all aspects to create the most productive and stimulating environment. With the demographics changing from a pyramid to a spinning top in shape, you need to cater to each individual employee’s need in a personalized fashion to make everybody feel at home and welcome in the organization. That includes both the iGeneration employee who will instinctively know how to swipe the factory floor with a broom and the baby Boomer who will have the experience to create the next generation SmartHome control. It also includes both the workaholic happily spending 60 hours or more a week at work and the parent of two kids who prefer to spend as much time as possible with family.
Experience is just as important in innovation as is open mindedness – actually, many innovations are all about applying old knowledge in a new context and in the process create new knowledge. Having worked with assembler programming, sensor readings and 300 BAUD modems in the 80’s is a very useful experience in today’s IoT world – it’s about reliably communicating data despite various issues and limitations.
Being from a specific generation – called Digital Natives – is not a good definition of people who will have a digital impact on the workplace or society in general. I have colleagues that have passed 60 (years of age!) and who are more digital savvy than many just-out-of-college teenagers.
Who Are the Digital Natives?
“The media has focused a lot on millennials in recent years, but it’s time to turn some of the attention to the millennials’ future co-workers. Gen Zers have a lot in common with millennials, but there are also many ways in which the two generations differ”. These words are from Deep Patel in an article at forbes.com
Though the eight overall trends of this generation described in the Forbes article are correct. This generation has just as big a variance in personality and intelligence as any previous generation.
Bear in mind, that the term Digital Natives is most commonly used about generation Z (people born mid-90’s to mid-2000’s and also often called the iGeneration) and sometime also for generation Y (born mid-80’s to mid-90’s and also often called Millennials) and has no link to skills or other qualitative factors. Some say that it should refer to people grown up with ubiquitous access to WiFi – but that would exclude people growing up in many places today as I experienced at a recent visit to Edinburgh, Scotland!
To give an example of a Digital Native that is absolutely lost with everyday technology: I know a recently graduated Master of Business Administration, mid-twenties, who doesn’t get the concept of booking a meeting with two other persons in a meeting room using Microsoft Outlook, and who is not able to combine selected slides from two different PowerPoint slide decks into one presentation in a common layout – two very common tasks in many white-collar workplaces. But who knows how to swipe and pinch! When offered a course, that person turns it down as not necessary. That’s going to be a very long learning curve to productivity in the workplace.