1. Emerging Adulthood
There are five major rites of passage into adulthood in American culture. In other words, “when someone is an adult” is defined by these five events. These are debatable, however, for the majority of Americans these have remained consistent for the last 100 years or so.
These five have crossed generations. They were the same for my grandmother and the same for me. The difference is my grandmother accomplished all five in about a week. Now, it takes us about 10 years to accomplish these. This is emerging adulthood. As employers, it is difficult for us to engage with a workforce that is in limbo. For most of our lives the lines are clear cut. We are children in elementary school. We are tweens in middle school. We are teens in high school. Now, post graduation, many individuals find themselves as neither child nor adult, or both. This causes interoffice issues because priorities are different from those in absolute adulthood. You see our paradigms change as we cross the threshold of adulthood. If I am unclear about that threshold, my paradigms are often different from my supervisors and connection with management becomes difficult.
2. Digital Natives
Most of our current work force are digital immigrants, meaning we traversed from an analogous age to a digital age. We weren’t raised with computers, or smart phones, or even digital cameras. Today’s adult entering the workforce is a digital native, meaning they do not know a world with all the aforementioned digital amenities. In fact, calling them amenities is a misnomer. To these workers, they are necessities. “How in the world would you navigate life (or your car) without a smart phone?” is a practical statement for Generation Z. For the Gen Xer or Boomer, “How in the world can you NOT make it without a smart phone, we did for decades?”
This dichotomy of opinion reveals the basic nature of how each faction thinks the workplace should operate. What is obvious to one is absurd to the other, and vice versa.
3. Instant Gratification
Now, more than ever, we are a society built on convenience. In almost every facet of our life we can receive what we desire nearly immediately. From entertainment (think Netflix), to communication (think text messages), to information (think Google) we receive our what we seek with relative ease and speed. It is difficult for people of any generation to remain patient now. But previous generations can at least recall a time when we had to wait for something, anything. Young Millennials and Generation Z have rarely, if ever, had to wait for anything. Now, thrust into the workforce, we are assuming a shift in that mindset and expecting upcoming generations to be patient for promotions, raises, and opportunities in the workplace, just like previous generations.