The Influence of Generation Z on CRE

The workplace may be getting a clear idea of what makes millennials tick, but employers and the office sector can’t stop there. The next generation of workers, named Generation Z, has topped the horizon and is beginning to make itself known in the workforce.  By 2020, 40% of consumers will be members of this demographic, and they already make up more than a quarter of the U.S. population.

This group is made up of people born after 1995.  They have never known life without the Internet, and are considerably more “connected” than even the millennials.  This generation (for the most part) has always walked around with their own phone in their pocket. They place a tremendous emphasis on personalization.

Generation Z overwhelmingly prefers to shop online, and most of them would like to own their own business. They are independent, but also more influenced by their parents than were the millennials. Start-ups and entrepreneurs are their career heroes. They prefer the idea of a flat organizational structure to the idea of a hierarchy at work.

This generation is adept at research and “self-education.” When they need to do something they can usually find a youtube video that gets them started. This has some applications for how training might best be provided as they enter the workforce.

They have an average attention span of 8 seconds.

This generation embraces living in the “right now.” Hence the popularity of Snapchat and other apps that leave no digital trail. Communication is expected to be extremely concise: whole conversations can be conveyed with the right emoji.

Obviously, the increasing numbers in Generation Z mean that they’re having a tremendous impact on retail. Their preference for online shopping and for receiving all information digitally influences marketing as well as the popularity of multi-channel retail.

Generation Z is concerned about doing good. They want to make a difference in the world, and more than 60% of them expect to be able to do that as part of their career. This makes it likely that company culture will continue to be a major factor in recruiting and retaining this generation as they enter the workforce. This is already named by millennials as one of the top reasons for choosing an employer.

A concern for the environment is characteristic of Generation Z, and they’re concerned about the outlook on that front. They’re also pessimistic about the economy, and express stress about their future. Will this lead them to stick with jobs longer than the current generation? The jury is out.

A preference for social interaction and collaboration makes Generation Z a good fit for many of the trends going on in office space and workplace design today.  They will be looking for flawless tech infrastructure and plenty of opportunity to interact and team up with colleagues. Open office design, schedule flexibility, and workplace amenities will continue to be important.

Considering that the oldest members of Generation Z will be graduating from college in a year or two, the time seems right to make a study of this demographic. Its influence is already being felt in retail, thanks to their purchasing power, and the workplace is next.