What defines the character of a generation? What crises (war, digital disruption) link one generation to another? And how can business leaders respond to the unique demands of a post-millennial workforce? The third report in Sogeti’s Digital Happiness series considers these questions as it charts the rise of a new generation of influencers for whom the concept of digital ‘transformation’ is alien.
The report, ‘The Synthetic Generation – Growing up in an uncertain changing world’, argues that digital and new media behaviors are simply ‘normal’ to these Gen-Z youngsters – also known as The Founders, Homelanders, iGen, and the fluid generation. But who are these young people? According to the report, they are a post-millennial generation, children who have developed in two ways during their formative years: physically, just as with previous generations; and now digitally. The report states: “This is the first generation to come of age with this dual identity … For them, the internet is both a metamodernist amusement park where every reality can be created, and a place that is covered with a moral fog and where new rules of conduct arise”. Responding to Gen Z All of which poses a unique generational challenge for the modern enterprise. How do you respond to and remain relevant to this new generation, both as customers and, moving forward, as the workforce of tomorrow? Just getting to grips with the characteristics of this generation is essential. The report states: “This is a post-materialist generation that adheres to more secular values and is more self-actualizing than other generations.” It adds that they are all ‘influencers’ who “show themselves in small-scale social media channels to friends and family, or to an audience of millions to influence their environment”. Responding to this new generation will require a significant – but achievable – shift in approaches and cultural nuances. The report recommends that organizations should become like Gen Z: paying more attention to new values and being more accepting of what many might view as “abnormal” behavior, but to Gen Zers is normal. Influenced or influencer? There are many steps business leaders can take as a society and the workplace transition to this new world order, including:
- Understand the power of the influencers. Aligning your brand or organization with influencers – or being an influencer – is key to success
- Digital engagement tools, notably avatars that ‘speak the truth’ are now a must have means of communication
- Gen-Z employees and customers are better equipped to handle themselves than you might imagine – real or fake, they know the influencers’ tricks and easily pierce through facades, so be authentic in your dealings with them
- Being an ethical and inclusive employer with a ‘purpose’ counts to Gen-Zers.