Each generation experiences the world a little bit differently. These experiences shape their consumer and professional preferences. Today’s youth really are different from yesterday’s, even though they may seem similar. Understanding the nuances of different age groups gives recruiters and managers a boost in meeting their needs.
For companies large and small, understanding the values, desires, and quirks of different generations can be both challenging and rewarding. The good news is that you can better reach your audience if you understand the means and messaging that will engage them most effectively. Take Millennials and Generation Z for example. While these two groups may seem similar, variances in their upbringings have resulted in different outlooks and expectations.
Millennials are the demographic cohort following Generation X. Their birth years span from the early 1980s to the mid-1990s. This group was shaped by two main events. First, they entered maturity during the Information Age. They began using information technology and social media around the start of their adolescence. However, while they are proficient in these avenues now, their childhood was relatively free of technological emphasis.
The second contributing factor for Millennials is the economy. Millennials reflect the idealism of having been raised during prosperous economic years. They emphasize the experience of their workplace participation and consumerism more than previous generations. Millennials were largely raised by parents from the high-consumption Baby Boom generation, further reinforcing their economic trust. Due to their idealism, their comfort with confrontation and their relatively limited ability to recognize different points of view, Baby Boomers are also referred to as the “Me Generation.”
Generation Z was born between the mid-1990s and 2015. This group was exposed to information technology, social media, and digital technology from a very young age. They probably don’t understand the “Be Kind, Please Rewind” slogan or the need for a hardback encyclopedia set or the struggles of trying to properly refold a road map. Other nicknames for this group include the iGeneration, referring to the Apple wave, and the Plurals, related to the use of multiple screens at one time.
This group is thought of as the first truly digital native generation. They’re more comfortable than their predecessors at cataloging and cross-referencing a vast amount of information. Generation Z is also much more comfortable learning and engaging independently via technology.
Generation Z was raised during the worst economic recession since the Great Depression. Because of this, they tend to view money more practically than Millennials. Gen Z is less idealistic and more realistic than Millennials. They reject confrontation but do like to find a commonality to resolve issues.
Millennials are motivated by the experience more than Generation Z. On the flipside, Generation Z is motivated more by the actual product. While Millennials typically prefer a travel experience or festival, Generation Z members prefer a unique object or product.
Studies indicate that Generation Z members value saving money and job security more than Millennials do. Generation Zers that are old enough to work are now taking full-time jobs at a higher percentage rate than previous generations. When consuming, Millennials are more drawn to big-name brands, while Generation Z is marked by a desire to express their individuality though their purchases.
One key factor that motivates Generation Z is their ethics. Generation Z is attracted to companies that take a stand on important issues and then follow through – i.e., put their money where their mouth is. Understanding this and the other preferences of each group can help recruiters attract and retain the most desirable employees.