The 5th Generation: Who will follow the Gen Ys?

Image: The 5th Generation: Who will follow the Gen Ys?

What Generation Comes After Gen Y?

Generation Y, often referred to in the media as Millennials are currently between 14-33 years old. While there are no conclusive dates for when the generation starts and ends, most researchers use birth years ranging from the early 1980s to the early 2000s. Increasingly so, I am seeing others using age ranges that vary greatly.  I believe this is in an effort to shift attention to the 5th generation – the cohort that follows Gen Ys.   Some refer to this group as Generation Z, though as researchers note there has been no defining term yet.  At n-gen, we began thinking about and writing about this generation over 3 years ago when we working on our second book Upgrade Now: 9 Advanced Leadership Skills.  We defined them as the “Global Generation” or “The Globes”.

What is the Global Generation Like?

While it is too soon to be able to definitively state how this generation will behave in the workplace, it is interesting to identify and speculate on the factors that are bound to shape the Globes during their coming of age period (defined as the first 16 years of a person’s life). While the Global Generation is still being formed as a cohort, life-defining events, technology, education and the parenting styles of today will impact this generation’s values, behaviours and expectations of tomorrow.  Many of our retail clients will be hiring the Globes in the next year or two and will need to learn how to integrate them into an already generationally complex workforce. Given the interest in learning more about the youngest members of our society and soon-to-be employees, here are some key characteristics that we believe the Global generation will bring to our workplaces:

  • Fiscal conservatism

In a throw back to their grandparents or great grandparents, this generation will have experienced tough economic times in upbringing, may have been given less than Gen Ys and will enter the work world with high levels of student debt. They are likely to have a better understanding of the need to work for money, save and delay purchases than Gen Ys.

  • Expectations of complete transparency

In a world where wiki leaks is praised and everyone Tweets about their most private details, the Globes will be accustomed to and expect full transparency from organizations and leaders.

  • Realism

Given that by in large Gen Xers are (and will be) the parents of the Globes, this youngest generation is likely to be influenced by the Gen X focus on results, their pragmatic view and a shift away from rewarding everyone for participating (at school and in sports) by returning to a focus on behaviours and actions.  Realism around what can and cannot be achieved in one’s career in a certain timeframe may exist.

  • Research abilities

The Globes are truly digital natives and can fully process how and when to leverage technology to solve problems.  This generation will be experts at sourcing information from multiple sources, synthesizing the data and presenting new and creative solutions.

  • Need for constant stimulation

Media multitasking will be commonplace for the Globes.  They will be simultaneously be using multiple media platforms – smart phone, social media, instant messaging, Twitter, photo sharing, etc to stay connected to their followers / friends / online community.

  • Weak face-to-face communication skills

We anticipate that the current performance gap in face-to-face communication (that many leaders indicate that Gen Ys need to improve upon) will also be an area of development for the Globes. Since their communication will be heavily e-based, the ability and need to communicate effectively without the use of technology will need to be developed and coached.

  • Hyper insistence on individualisation

As all consumer brands rush to increase their personalization and individualization for their customers, the Global Generation will come to expect that employers, leaders and colleagues will also adapt, modify and customize the work experience so that it aligns to their individual needs, expectations and motivations.

What’s next for Leaders?

Leaders will need to continue to understand the ever changing generational landscape by being aware of the values, expectations and behaviours that each generation brings to the workplace.  Effective people leaders will be able to adapt their leadership style to their diverse workforce and draw out of each cohort (and individual employee) the highest level of engagement and performance.  By understanding the characteristics that the next generation of young employees may possess, organizations can begin to proactively plan for how to recruit the best and brightest and leverage their strengths as a competitive advantage,

Giselle Kovary

As president and co-founder of n-gen People Performance Inc., Giselle is dedicated to building strategies and programs that help clients target, motivate and engage employees in order to increase performance and productivity. She is a sought after resource to industry leaders, having worked with 18 of the top Fortune 500 companies across North America. Over 60,000 people globally have experienced an n-gen workshop or presentation. With close to 20 years of experience in learning and development, she has devoted more than 13 years to researching the impact that generational differences have on organizational performance.

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