Gen Z and Technology
Recently we completed Canada’s first national survey on Gen Z. This is a generation that was born between 1996 and 2012 and whose oldest members are starting to enter the workforce.
The most important life-defining event for Gen Z has been the proliferation of technology and the digital economy. Gen Z is at home when connecting through a screen.
While Millennials are often considered “digital natives,” many Gen Zs have had a social media presence since birth. Their lives have been captured, posted, and shared with friends, family, and followers online since day one. The result is that this generation has been observing, evaluating, and living life through a screen for their entire lives.
Data from our survey suggests that Gen Z will prioritize communication that is highly sensory, leveraging video technology when possible. In fact, 71 percent agreed with the statement “regardless of the technology I use to communicate, it is important for me to see and hear who I am communicating with.”
This shows that, despite the idea that younger people are entirely wrapped up in text messaging, the reality is that Gen Z wants to be able to see and hear people. The rise of apps such as Snapchat and Instagram, which focus on pictures and videos, as well as Apple’s FaceTime, which is designed to make video chatting more convenient, are relevant to a generation that likes to see and hear people; even if those people are halfway around the world.
As for which social media platforms Gen Z uses the most, 71% of those we surveyed said they use YouTube daily while 68% said the same about Facebook. Instagram and Snapchat are both used by 56% of respondents daily while Twitter is used daily by only 26% of those surveyed.
The use of YouTube makes sense when you consider that Gen Zs are a “do-it-yourself” generation that likes to figure out things on their own. YouTube has, in many cases, replaced television, classroom learning and community events. Younger people today turn to YouTube for entertainment, to learn how to do almost anything, and to create content to share with their friends.
What This Means for Organizations
Organizations that wish to attract Gen Z talent should consider ways to increase the richness of communication and interactions with team members through technology. How can you use technology to train, engage, and assist Gen Z in ways that will be interesting and educational?
While Gen Zs have completely embraced technology, and while they believe it will help them in life, our research has also found this generation is aware of some of the risks. For example, 88 percent of Gen Z agreed with the statement “protecting my privacy is very important to me.”
Gen Zs are much more likely than other generations to cover the webcam on their laptops or tablets to avoid the risk of someone hacking their camera, and they are cautious about what they post online. This generation has grown up knowing the risks of having their photos, videos or information shared, and they understand how their personal information can be used against them.
The fact that this generation places a high priority on privacy and security is important for organizations to understand. If you want to attract Gen Zs to your organization, think of how your environment protects employees’ privacy and confidentiality, both physically and digitally. Gen Zs want to feel safe and secure at work. How will you provide this?
The goal is to leverage technology so that new recruits perceive your organization as modern and tech-savvy, as well as ensuring the technology you use enhances communication and efficiency. All the while, respecting employees’ desire for privacy, the expectation they can use their own devices at work, and that work can be integrated with various platforms, apps, and social media.