Ready or not, the next generation of workers, Generation Z, are set to enter the workforce. Whether or not they will cause as much disruption as the Millennial generation remains to be seen. What is clear is that they will have different expectations, preferences, and perspectives of work that will challenge many existing organizations.

Who is Generation Z?

Generation Z is the post-Millennial generation and is loosely defined as those born after 1998. If you don't recall the events of 9/11 because you were too young to remember, you are Generation Z.

Thanks to ubiquitous connectivity they have limitless interests and avenues for learning.

They have been raised in an on-demand culture and have been shaped by social media, mobile technology, a post 9/11 world, and a deep recession.

This generation of self-starters, self-learners, and self-motivators will stop at nothing to make their mark on the world.

Four ways Generation Z will be different from previous generations.

Today's high-flux and exponential times are sparking new behaviors that have no precedent in human history which makes predicting the shifts and behaviors of Generation Z very daunting. However, a solid understanding of Generation Z's high-tech and hyper-connected upbringing and their unique perspectives and expectations of work will better equip companies to attract, retain, and engage the next generation of workers.

1. Generation Z will be smaller.

To put it simply, generations are formed by significant events or societal advancements during the moldable years of an age cohort.

The behaviors and values of the Silent Generation were shaped by World War II, Baby Boomers shaped by the Kennedy Assassination, Generation X shaped by the Challenger explosion, Millennials shaped by 9/11, and Generation Z is being shaped by mobile technology, terrorism, and social media to name a few.

The rapid advancements in technology, connectivity, mobile devices, and social networks have provided a 24/7 feed of real-time information in the palm of our hand. This shift has enabled the emerging generations to be exposed to more life-shaping content and thus shrinking the generational span from 15-20 years to perhaps 5-10 years.

As technology and connectivity rapidly evolves, so will the emerging generations.

2. Generation Z will be more diverse.

In the past, all of the world's innovations were designed to impact our physical world. Many of these innovations (the wheel, printing press, steam engine, car, etc.) caused linear--non-exponential--and gradual change. But today's innovations (the Internet, Facebook, Uber, Amazon, Pokémon Go, Netflix, etc.) are impacting the physical and digital worlds. Connectivity and the cloud have enabled exponential and accelerated change.

Generation Z is becoming more behaviorally and culturally diverse thanks to today's exponential times.

Today there are countless platforms and channels where Generation Z can connect, consume, and contribute. News, trends, and products and services all have the exponential power to reach and reshape generations.

For example, Generation Z won't remember a day when you couldn't tap a screen and in one hour a drone dropped off your Amazon package at your front door. That fundamentally changes how Generation Z expects products and services to be delivered to them.

Exponential times enabled Pokémon Go, the location-based augmented reality mobile game, to become the most downloaded mobile game in its first month (130 million downloads) and the fastest mobile game to earn $600 million in revenue (90 days). Because of the game's success, Generation Z will expect (or at least will be more open) to use more augmented and virtual reality experiences moving forward.

Generation Z will be more diverse in their thinking, behaviors, and culturally. If the Millennials have you scratching your head, prepare yourself for a full mind blow as Generation Z brings even more diversity and change.

3. Generation Z will be more global.

The Millennial generation is the most global to date and have more in common with their international peers than any previous generation.

Millennials were considered the first global generation, but as more of the world comes online, geographies will continue to shrink. Generation Z will become more global in their thinking, interactions, and relate-ability.

In fact, 58 percent of adults worldwide ages 35+ agree that "kids today have more in common with their global peers than they do with adults in their own country." An 8-year-old in the U.S. is likely to have more in common with a 8-year-old in India than a 65 year in their own country.

Generation Z has been able to turn on Xbox One, put on a headset, and communicate with peers halfway around the world in real-time while they game. Connectivity has reframed for Generation Z how effortless it is to communicate and collaborate across the globe.

Generation Z will be a boundary-less generation.

4. Generation Z will influence your behavior.

Like no other generation before them, Millennials and Generation Z have actively tried to assimilate previous generations into their culture.

As an adult, have you texted someone an emoji, taken a selfie, or downloaded Snapchat? Many actions that were once considered "childish" are now mainstays in culture. Never before have behaviors been rippling up generations like they are today.

Previous generations are assimilating the behaviors of the emerging generations for two primary reasons.

Transparency. The Internet and social media has allowed people to experience what's important and top of mind for the emerging generations instead of it being locked in a diary.

Self-preservation. To remain relevant and functional in a high-tech world, previous generations are looking to the emerging generations for cues on how to use and leverage technology.

Humanity has always looked to its youth for innovation, but today it's happening faster and more frequent than ever before.

Generation Z will influence how we live and work...and probably a lot sooner than you think.

Published on: Jan 11, 2017