Raymond Morin
March 31, 2015

Generation C: Four Generations Converge In The Workplace

Over the next five years, the new generation, Gen Z (1994-2010), will escalate its immersion into the labor market, which for the first time, will include large numbers from four generations. Might there be a clash of generations, or on the contrary, will this merger result in a social transformation of work environments? Hopefully the latter!

Four generations for the first time at work together!

EvolutionSM25yrs Feuil2The graph above shows the evolution of the demographic trends of generations in the labor market starting from 1994. It portrays the transition of organizations until 2030, when the first group of the ALPHA Generation (born after 2010), will begin to enter the workforce (at between 16 and 20 years of age). It shows, among other things, that four generations will have to share their work environment for first time, and learn to work and collaborate together.

This particular context is likely to last to a significant extent until 2022, by which time the majority of boomers will have retired, only to re-emerge as Gen ALPHA reach working age. Indeed, however briefly, there will be a 5-generation convergence, as some Boomers working later into life than their parents, will work alongside people easily young enough to be their grandchildren.

Generation Y – the Millennial Generation – comes to prominence!

millennials2Since 2004, Generation Y, the first generation of digital natives, has occupied a prominent place in work environments. Despite an unemployment rate that remains endemic ten years later, still denying a quarter of them employment, their demographic influence in the labor market remains enormous.

Indeed, they represent nearly two billion people, making it the largest generation in the labor market. And their arrival is gradually pushing baby boomers, the group most resistant to change, to retire and be replaced by those of Generation X in decision-making positions. More connected than their elders (78% of Gen X is now connected to the Internet and social media), the new bosses more easily integrate new technologies into the work processes, thus eliminating the last barriers to the digital transformation of enterprises and organizations.

In this context, during the last decade, young people of Generation Y were able to introduce the first major changes in business and organizations. They brought new values, based more on the quality of the experience rather than wages. Having evolved and grown simultaneously with new information and communications technologies (ICT) of the leading mobile phones and computers today, they developed the natural reflex to connect, to meet their basic needs. And they now demand to use these tools in their professional lives.

At work, young Y also demonstrate far more seriousness and responsibility than many had expected, coming from a generation that was perceived by their elders as being self-centered, lazy, without goals and without ambitions.

In fact, quite the opposite is being proven. They attach more importance to their safety and have turned out to become very good workers, when given opportunities. However, they need to be challenged and want their work to have a positive impact on those around them. They want to build something new and use their creativity to do so. And those who do not find a way to express their creativity will leave after a few years to start their own businesses.

Over the next five years, more than half of them will pass the age of thirty. The oldest Millennials, who remain in employment, will even have entered their forties, with many having up to twenty years of experience in the labor market. They rose quickly through the ranks and already, the more ambitious share decision-making positions with those of Generation X.

The future of the workplace with the Generation Z

1generation-zBy 2020, the youth of the Generation Z will also have a major ripple effect in changing work environments. Since 2010, they have already started to trickle into the labor market, joining their fellow digital natives from Generation Y.

In the coming years, the roles and functions of work will undergo great change, and employment skills will be determined by algorithms. According to the latest research, new technologies will become ever more important in workplaces with the arrival of the Z Generation. This, as Cloud computing, 3D printing, portable technologies, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and Big Data continue to invade and alter work environments. These new technologies have now reached a critical mass of use, which inevitably will transpose in organizations.

Seemingly born with a smartphone and a computer in their hands and unknowing of life without the Web, the youth of the Generation Z have developed a value system based around the technologies they have grown up with. In fact, for them, it has almost become an extension of their personality. On average, they use more than a dozen applications on their mobile devices, with some using up to fifty. Over the years they have developed multi-functional and cross-platform capabilities which will naturally see them taking some leadership positions in the new working environments that they will create.

However, it is not so much in the demographic or technological level that the influence of Generation Z will be felt most in the coming years, but in the very approach to work. Young people of the new generation further demonstrate pragmatism. Like the young people of Generation Y, they do not conceive of work as the main source of motivation. They show more altruism than previous generations, and show more awareness of social and environmental problems. These personal values naturally transpose into their way of working and collaborating with others.

Now, although we cannot predict exactly how work environments will continue to evolve and change with the new generations, or even if they still exist as we know them, we must be prepared to embrace other major changes over the next four years, with the gradual arrival of Generation Z. It is clearly evident that the next few years will see a continued acceleration of social transformations, which will change the landscape of businesses and organizations. Buckle up and enjoy the ride!


Image attribution: Copyright: ‘http://www.123rf.com/profile_alphaspirit‘ / 123RF Stock Photo



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Raymond Morin

SMO Senior Consultant, Author/Blogger and Speaker at Virage 2.0
Strategic analyst / consultant for over 20 years, specializing in optimizing Web marketing / social media for businesses and organizations, Raymond Morin is also the author of three reference guides (in French), and co-author of three other books about digital marketing, public relations and human resources management. A recognized professional blogger, in both languages, he regularly presents and facilitates conferences for organizations, as well as in-house training workshops. In English, he contributes monthly to various platforms of professional bloggers and social media influencers. His next book, Generation C - Confluence Marketing at the Era of Connected Consumers, will be published next fall on Friesen Press Publishing.