Generation Z will be welcomed
The Deloitte Millennial Survey 2017
Millennials have a positive opinion of GenZ, believing the group to have strong information technology skills and the ability to think creatively.
Looking to the future, Generation Z
When we started this series in 2011, millennials were the “new generation” in the workplace and we wondered what their impact might be. By now, either through our day-to-day experience of working side-by-side with millennials, or through research such as this, we have a pretty good idea. It is the next wave of employees—Generation Z (GenZ), or as some have called them, “centennials”—that is starting to attract attention. Only time will tell what their impact will be, but we thought it interesting to get millennials’ views of those about to join them in the workplace.
Millennials tend to have a broadly positive opinion of GenZ (those currently aged 18 or younger). Maybe because of perceptions that they have strong information technology skills and the ability to think creatively, six in 10 (61 percent) millennials believe GenZ will have a positive impact as their presence in the workplace expands. This increases to 67 percent among millennials in senior positions and is higher in emerging markets (70 percent) than in mature markets (52 percent). As detailed in Figure 23, in only six markets does a minority expect GenZ to have a positive impact. However, while millennials see great potential within GenZ, they also believe these younger employees will need a lot of support when they enter the workforce.
The fact that they broadly view GenZ in a positive light would suggest that millennials might be willing to offer support and provide this as a perception rather than a criticism. Indeed, millennials have many useful tips to pass on to their future colleagues. When asked what guidance they would give the next generation—based on their own early career experiences—the main areas of advice were:
- Learn as much as possible: Begin your career open-minded and be ready to learn from others.
- Work hard: Do your best and do not be lazy.
- Be patient: Take your time when entering the workforce and go step-by-step.
- Be dedicated: Be committed to succeeding and persevering.
- Be flexible: Be open and adaptable to change and try new things.
The advice millennials have for GenZ varies by country. Those in China, for example, encourage GenZ to be “humble;” in South America, it is more typical to advise them to “be ready to learn;” and in the US and Canada, the message is to “work hard.”
Millennials believe GenZ will especially need to develop softer skills, rather than technical or specific knowledge, to meet their expectations. Further, millennials don’t think GenZ’s primary strengths align well with the skills or attributes considered most valuable in driving long-term business success. Millennials in senior positions (those increasingly involved in decisions over strategy and direction) consider GenZ to be underprepared as regards professionalism and personal traits such as patience, maturity, and integrity. This is something that comes from experience, though, and can be learned—especially, as we saw in the 2016 report, when a mentoring program is put in place.
Perhaps surprisingly, millennials in senior positions rate information technology and social media skills as being of relatively low importance—especially when compared to attributes such as communication, flexibility, leadership, and the ability to think creatively and to generate new ideas. Encouragingly, this last trait is one of the things that GenZ is thought to have in relatively strong supply. Taken together with millennials’ generally positive assessment of the next generation, this provides a reason for optimism.