Imagineering the Future WorkForce

By Jay Jaboneta

MOBILE NATIVES Gen Z'ers have spent the better part of their formative years in front of a mobile screen. MOBILE NATIVES Gen Z'ers have spent the better part of their formative years in front of a mobile screen.

How the mobile natives' generation will change the future of work and the workplace.

  • The Generation Z (Gen Z) population to reach 2.56 billion by 2020
  • 96 percent of Gen Z’ers own a smartphone
  • One third (1/3) of them also watch videos online every day
As this new generation’s college graduates are starting to enter the work force, it’s important that we explore the differences they have compared to older generations, most especially the Millennial generation.

Mobile Natives

A new generation is emerging and they are not just digital natives but more important, they are mobile natives. There is a crucial difference: While Millennials first came to use the Internet using a PC or laptop, Generation Z first came to use the Internet using a mobile device, either through a tablet or mobile phone. While Millennials communicate mainly using text or voice, Gen Z’ers communicate mainly via emojis and even by using videos or movies.

Because they grew up with instant and on-demand content, they are pretty much aware of what’s happening around the world. This generation wants to change the world and they are the generation most exposed to technology, even starting from a very early stage.

Technology shapes their lives and their worldview.

Streaming and Gaming Natives

They don’t know a time without the internet—they favor streaming content in bites, like those offered through Youtube, Vimeo, or Facebook (and even Netflix, Hulu, Hooq, and iFlix), and consume it mostly on their phones and other devices. A majority of them are also into mobile-based gaming, having grown up with Angry Birds, Clash of Clans, Candy Crush, and the like.

They see playing digital games as part of their lives.

POST-MILLENNIALS Most researchers and demographers identify those born in the mid-1990s to the early 2000s as members of Generation Z. POST-MILLENNIALS Most researchers and demographers identify those born in the mid-1990s to the early 2000s as members of Generation Z.

7 major differences between Millennials and Gen Z’ers

  • Gen Z’ers can “truly” multi-task–In school, they can create a document on their school computer, do research on their phone or tablet, while taking notes on a notepad, then finish in front of a TV with a laptop, while face-timing a friend. You get the picture. In the workplace, this generation might start working on a document in the afternoon, open it on their phone on the ride home, and pull it up again on their laptop while watching TV at night. This has major implications, as they will be the largest members of the work force in the next 10 years.
  • Gen Z’ers are true digital natives while Millennials are digital pioneers – Always-on connectivity, highly curated global information, on-demand video, and 24/7 news cycles are native to this generation. Since they’ve been living in a world of mobile phones and free Wi-Fi for as long as they can remember, most of them have some sort of digital footprint. They can easily shift between platforms and technologies and pick up new software quickly. The lines between entertainment and communication are blurring as they use more emojis, effects, and filters to convey what they want to say.
  • Gen Z’ers prefer Influencers than Millennials do – For Gen Z’ers, influencers are more than just entertainers, they are role models, movement leaders, even educators. It’s very common for Gen Z’ers to turn to YouTube or online channels when they want to learn something, instead of using more conventional education methods like finding a tutor or taking in-campus classes.
  • Gen Z’ers use more digital platforms (at the same time) – Gen Z’ers don’t just have shorter attention spans, they can also juggle more screens. In the workplace, this might mean they want to apply for a job using a mobile device and, for most of them, professional development in the workforce should look like YouTube, not a binder. Video is really important.
  • Gen Z’ers are more Global and Social – Young people today have more in common with their global peers than they do with adults in their own country. This is a highly social generation. When texting, chatting, and using social media, they’re also sharing.
  • Gen Z’ers explore alternatives to formal education - Gen Z’ers believe getting a four-year degree no longer makes economic and sometimes even professional sense, and hundreds of programs, from apprenticeships to boot camps, have cropped up to offer alternative paths. New types of work are possible, too. GenZ’ers are looking for education alternatives. They will pursue on-demand or just-in-time learning solutions, like how to YouTube tutorials or Khan Academy, or will seek employers that offer strong on-the-job and development training.
  • Gen Z’ers focus on role-hopping instead of job-hopping – If Millennials helped usher in an era in which it is normal to go through several careers and have flexible schedules, Gen Z’ers are finding ways to have all those careers at the same time.
In the past, workers have been passive players in their career development journey. In the future, they will be creating their own opportunities by going online to educate themselves about their chosen fields and also to learn new skills on their own.

Businesses will have to create new frameworks and structures around their workplaces to entice this generation to stay.

The author is advancement adviser and consultant on disruptive technologies at De La Salle–College of St. Benilde.