What COVID-19 Can Teach Us About Gen Z: The Positive and The Negative
With schools around the country being shut down, businesses closing, major sporting and other public events being cancelled and massive shortages of toilet paper (of all things…), it's hard for most of us to focus on anything bud the pandemic. So, we thought we'd use a COVID-19 tie-in for this post as well.
We're taking a look at how the COVID-19 outbreak highlights both the value of Generation Z as a tech-savvy workplace cohort and also the ongoing strain and tension between this group and older generations.
Gen Z Offers Great Resource for Remote Work
First, the positive. Younger workers, Generation Z in particular, can be an extremely valuable asset for companies forced to conduct business remotely or that choose to do so out of an abundance of caution. This generation is extremely comfortable with online tools like social media and video conferencing that can help companies continue their operations remotely with minimal impact. Companies may see younger workers taking the lead in organizing and coordinating virtual meetings and work-focused social media conversations, if for no other reason than they know how to set them up and operate them.
At the same time, those same social media tools highlight how COVID-19 is yet another outlet for tension between Generation Z and Baby Boomers.
Generational Tensions Emerge
As Andrew Whalen writes in an article for Newsweek, the emerging term "Boomer Remover” is, "a mean nickname for the novel coronavirus COVID-19.” The term began trending on Twitter on March 13, Whalen says. Since that time, he writes: “The term has appeared in more than 65,000 tweets and references the higher mortality rate among older people infected with COVID-19—particularly among people over 60, including the Boomer Baby age cohort approximately between the ages of 56 and 74."
Of course, these two examples are very, very broad observations about segments of a very large Generation Z. Just as not all Gen Zs are tech savvy, not all have negative, confrontational views of Baby Boomers and other older generations.
But both examples represent trends that are reflective of at least portions of this young cohort that is taking on an increasingly important role in our national and global economies as each new year passes.
Inclusion is for everyone—and every generation. These are stressful times for us all. Let’s not let that stress divide us. Let’s see how we can all unite to be the best we can be.
Organizations of all kinds have been working to alleviate tension between generations and other diverse groups. We believe these organizations, however well-intentioned, are languishing in a stuck state. The key is for businesses to understand that diversity and inclusion are long-term goals that require long-term efforts and cannot be solved through short-term initiatives. It's a marathon, not a sprint.
Our recent white paper, Overcoming the Stuck State offers some insights into the steps that need to be taken to get unstuck. Download a free copy here.
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