Webinar Keynotes: How Millennials and Generation Z are Changing the Workplace

Dr Boris Altemeyer, our Chief Scientific Officer explores this topic in our recent webinar.

Generation Z and Millennials have entered the workplace. It is believed by some that these generations have bad manners, contempt for authority and talk too much. However, generational clashes and misconceptions have been around since 400 B.C… 

“The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.”

Socrates / Plato (disputed) 400 B.C (approx)  

This shows that generations have always clashed. This is especially true now with the rapid development of technology. Which means each new generation coming into work will see things differently based on the technology they used growing up. 

Perception vs. Reality – Why do we stereotype? 

We all look at the world in a different way. In psychology, we tend to say that the number of realities in a room is the number of people in the room plus one (which is what is actually happening).  

Our brain likes making shortcuts in order to make quick decisions. However, these shortcuts aren’t always accurate and can lead to some generalisations. Ageism is a problem that stems from biases. Being unconsciously biased is an inherent part of being human – even if we try to avoid it or correct ourselves. Below are the main bias ‘shortcuts’ that create stark differences in the perception of different groups and generations of people.

  • In-Group/Out-Group Bias – we prefer people from our own group.  
  • Confirmation Bias – we seek information that confirms our existing way of thinking and discard information that doesn’t.  
  • Recency Bias – we tend to use the latest encounter we’ve had with that group of people as an anchor point. 
  • Bandwagon Effect – the more people say it the more we agree with it.  
  • Blind-Spot Bias – this is believing that you are ultimately right because you see things the ‘right way’. 

If you would like to find out more about biases, read our blog on unconscious bias. 

The data 

At Cognisess we have been able to collect data that represents the values of each generation. 

The generations 

Baby Boomers: Born between 1946 and 1964

Generation X: Born between 1965 and 1980

Millennials: Born between 1981 and 1996

Generation Z: Born between 1997 and 2012

Older Generations

  • Value working conditions more – they will join a company if it seems like a nice place to work and will feel proud to work there. As mobile working becomes more common, the office environment becomes less important to younger generations. 
  • Value relationships more
  • Are not so bothered about recognition – Generation Z has a 26% higher drive for recognition than Baby Boomers. If this generation isn’t recognised for their work they will find less fulfilment in a role and are more likely to leave. 

Younger Generations

  • (Slightly) less achievement-driven – there has been a slight decrease in this from Baby Boomers to Generation Z. 
  • Far less trusting – as trust is hard to come by for these generations this builds a completely different work environment. 
  • More tolerant
  • Just as resilient – they don’t want to be handled with kid gloves. Younger generations just have a different way of working and ultimately want to find meaning in what they do. 

What does this mean for businesses?

  • Personalities have not changed – individual differences exist exactly as before
  • Younger generations will be attracted more to jobs that offer personal development, support and clear and frequent recognition of work
  • Work is now flexible – mobile working is not a perk anymore, it is standard
  • Generations will differ on the value of relationships – breakdown or misconception of trust will be a major issue in the workplace

For more in depth results, watch the webinar here. As a company, we are interested in providing insights into the workforce. If you would like to undertake this in your company please contact us with the form below.