Get Ready For Generation Z: They're Texting, Tweeting And Totally Game

Generation Z multitasking textingWhen Tiffany Fernandez needs to miss a day of work, she doesn't call her boss. The 17-year-old, an assistant to a Miami clothing designer, doesn't email her either. She sends her a text.

Fernandez is typical of her fellow members of Generation Z, who were born in the early to mid-1990s and are entering the workforce in droves for the first time, according to The Miami Herald.

Gen Z is the first generation to have always known the digital world. And so this group brings a new web savvy -- and devotion -- into the workplace.

"They will have to get used to email and, God forbid, picking up the phone and calling," Cam Marston, of Generational Insights, told the Herald.

These youths are also known as Generation M (for multitasking), Generation C (for connected), or even the iGeneration. Some argue that Gen Z's nearly lifelong exposure to the Internet has been a double-edged sword. While they're adept at multitasking, they may find it harder to have old-fashioned, face-to-face conversations, says senior analyst Naren Sivasailam of the Australian market research firm IBISWorld, which has conducted surveys among Australian members of Gen Z.

"They are more cynical because they are so aware of being marketed to, but they are also empathetic because they are so much more aware of what is going on," Sivasailam told the Australian paper, The Herald Sun. Gen-Z also may have more difficulty handling interactions with clients and customers because they've spend so much time in front of a screen. But being left to their own devices has had an upside, observers note, pointing out that Gen-Z members are remarkably comfortable multitasking.

Gen Z Goes To Work
It's probably too early to tell how growing up in the wake of 9/11 and the Great Recession will shape this generation, but it's clear that large events can leave their mark. The Great Depression, which spanned from 1929 to the end of the 1930s, is widely accepted to to have left in its wake the fatalistic "Silent Generation," which, as the International Business Times points out, is the lone American generation not to produce a president.

So far, this generation is facing more hurdles to even landing a job. The percentage of Americans between the ages of 16 to 24 who were employed as of last July was measured at 48.8 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That figure is the lowest such tally for the age bracket since the BLS began tracking the statistic in 1948.

While it's common for young people to be seen by their elders as lazy and apathetic, experts suggest that Gen Z understands that they're facing a tough economy and have become more entrepreneurial as a result. "Gen Z is taking the bull by the horns, and is really making this happen," said Assistant Professor Ted Zoller of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill's Kenan-Flagler Business School, in remarks to the "Institute for Emerging Issues Forum" at North Carolina State this month.

Education cuts during the crisis are also sure to have an impact. "Students simply do not possess much information or knowledge about the workplace," Robin McCarthy, executive director of Women At Work, told The Herald-Sun newspaper of Durham, N.C. In hosting teen job fairs, she has noticed that many potential job seekers do not have any idea how to write a resume.

For their part, though, Gen Z may end up surprising all the pundits. A new survey, for instance, punctures holes in the stereotype of Gen Z as being always connected. The survey, conducted by Computacenter found that more than half of the 16- to 24-year-olds surveyed didn't want a tablet in the workplace.


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Dan Fastenberg

Dan Fastenberg

Associate Editor

Dan Fastenberg was most recently a reporter with TIME Magazine. Previously, he was a writer for the Thomson Reuters news service's Latin America desk. He was also a reporter and associate editor for the Buenos Aires Herald while living in South America.

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T REXX

text for emergency only when employed and supervision is not available....period..and only if management approves..and no i've never been in management...

April 30 2012 at 6:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
seekthetruth123

Generation Z for ZERO ! They want $100,000 a year but want to do nothing to earn it. They are to busy sending text messages and keeping up with what their friends are up to too or playing video games online to get anything done. I fired 2 last week so don't tell me how wrong I am.

April 30 2012 at 1:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
powermetal2000

Generation Z? Does the z stand for "Zombies"? A bunch of young people that can't spell, can't do math, and have no real world social skills.

April 29 2012 at 11:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to powermetal2000's comment
c.juds

Really? I'm 20, I work three jobs, one of which is in an office as an assistant. I and everyone I know are working at least one job and are interning on the side to get more skills. But you know, maybe if our parents generations and the generations before them hadn't decided that cutting education funding was a great decision and that having 40 kids in each class wasn't a problem we'd be better off. Or maybe if our parents didn't have to work multiple jobs to put food on the table while corporate vp's and ceo's take home upwards of 370x what the average employee in this country makes they might have actually had time to care what kind of grades their kids get and helped them get to college and get a better life.

April 29 2012 at 11:36 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to c.juds's comment
themechanicsix

You got it better in school than anyone before you.

April 30 2012 at 12:14 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down

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