While the impact of Generation Y (ages 18-31) in the workplace is being considered, we are looking ahead to the next generation. Generation Z (roughly ages 7-17) is already moving the needle as consumers, particularly in technology, fashion and media, with an estimated annual purchasing power of $44 billion , according to Entrepreneur.com.
The oldest members of Gen Z are starting to land their first jobs, meaning they will soon alter the generational dynamic in the working world. What will be Gen Z’s power as employees and eventually business leaders?
It is important to think about this as more Millennials, aka Gen Y, are becoming managers. So far, Millennials appear to be fans of helping younger colleagues succeed. Perhaps this is because Millennials generally focus on collaborative success. This mentality often manifests itself via mentoring, such as providing college or job selection advice to younger counterparts. This is not only generous, but also a smart career move. Based on the speed and magnitude of technology innovation, Gen Z employees will no doubt have important tech skills and knowledge that Millennial senior leaders will want to leverage.
Building Leadership Skills
As soon as large numbers of Gen Z arrive in the workplace, Millennials will no longer be the youngest generation in the workplace. This presents a great leadership opportunity. The Hartford’s 2014 Millennial Leadership Survey found 73 percent of Millennials aspire to lead in the next five years, with the workplace as the top area where they hope to be leaders. With most of Gen Z still in school, Millennial employees have time to develop communication and management skills. In today’s world, employees must be CEO of their own careers. Millennials can look for training and development programs within their companies, the community, and their industries. Also they can practice skills by volunteering to lead a project or suggesting a new initiative that they would lead.
Mentoring Each Generation
Employers can take steps now to shape their Millennial employees into the next generation of leaders. To benefit from each generation’s expertise, employers can set up reverse mentoring program, in which experience workers share their knowledge with younger employees, who in turn share their skills with the older teammates. Millennials are ready for this opportunity to learn while leading too. A whopping 94 percent of Millennials surveyed by The Hartford in its leadership poll said reverse mentoring would be valuable. Reverse mentoring can also give attention to other generations who may feel ignored, such as Gen X, which is squeezed between Gen Y and baby boomers.
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“Start Preparing Your Business for the Generation After Millennials.” Gasca. Entrepreneur, 14 July 2014. Web. 21 November 2014.
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