"But isn't every young generation always entitled, lazy, and disrespectful?" Yes, to some degree. There's always a maturity process every generation experiences as they emerge into adulthood.
All too often, these are questions that I hear organizations and leaders use as an excuse to avoid change. If every generation is the same, there's no need to innovate.
It's much easier to defend prior decisions than it is to challenge the status quo.
"Generation Z aren't that different" is a cleverly disguised excuse to hold on to the status quo.
The status quo causes leaders to get complacent, industries to get stuck, and companies to go under. Contentment with the status quo instantly makes companies vulnerable to be put out of business at the speed of Uber.
Today companies must be on a constant quest to challenge the status quo in order to create a better future. Every company has shared assumptions that fuel the status quo of how things have always been done. A "this is always how we've done it" mindset is a slippery slope to irrelevance.
It's true generations share more similarities than differences. However, now more than ever, unaddressed generational differences can lead to deeply divided teams and massive market vulnerabilities.
One area where the generational gap is growing quickly is in expectations. More specifically, technology has caused Gen Z to have elevated expectations.
For example, established generations consider ridesharing applications an impressive innovation, but Gen Z can't remember a world prior to Uber. Therefore to Gen Z Uber is standard--the norm--and that's where their expectations start.
This is true of every generation. If you can't remember what life was like prior to an innovation than to you it's not an innovation, it's standard, and that's where your expectations start.
For Generation Alphas, the post-Gen Z and youngest generation, won't ever know a world where they can't speak to a smart object (such as Amazon Echo), order a product, and have it delivered to their front door within hours via a drone. They are the first generation born entirely within the 21st century and will have fundamentally different expectations surrounding communications and how goods and services are delivered to them.
This is no fault of their own. They've just grown up in a very different world than you or me.
Because Gen Z (and Generation Alpha) are growing up during the most highly disruptive and fast changing time in human history, their expectations are elevating much faster than previous generations.
Gen Z's elevated expectations are causing them to ask...
- Why stand in line at a grocery store?
- Cashier-less Amazon Go stores allow customers to grab anything in the store and "just walk out" without waiting in lines.
- Why visit a brick and mortar store to buy something?
- RayBan allows customers to browse, select, try on virtually, and purchase sunglasses via a chatbot on Facebook Messenger.
- Why sit through hours-long company training?
- 21Mill delivers 5-15 min transformative mobile training courses that can be consumed whenever from wherever.
- Why remain with an employer?
- Glassdoor displays employers and jobs that offer better benefits, career opportunities, company cultures, and employee ratings.
More and more Gen Z will be entering the workforce and marketplace with elevated expectations. That doesn't necessarily make them entitled but rather the next generation of employees and consumers.
If employers and brands aren't able to meet Gen Z's elevated expectations, Gen Z is a finger swipe away from finding someone who can meet it.
Gen Z will demand more from brands and employers but the bigger picture is that today's connected and digital world will force brands and employers to deliver better services and experiences.
Don't change for Gen Z, but rather innovate in light of Gen Z so that you can recruit, lead, and market in tomorrow's ever-evolving and increasingly demanding marketplace.