You may have heard about Generation Z (Gen Z) recently in the media. This group includes people who were born between 1995 and 2010 and follow the Millennials. These young people are now beginning to enter the workforce and will soon make up one-fifth of employees.
Gen Zs are unique from previous generations in several ways.
- They are a large group, larger than Baby Boomers or Millenials.
- They are the most ethnically and racially diverse generation ever.
- They were born into a world where the Internet was already widely used, so they have been “connected” all of their lives.
- They helped drive the growth of social media.
- They are more risk averse than previous generations due to several large historical events that have framed their lives – e.g., the 9/11 attacks and the 2008 recession.
A recent LinkedIn survey of 2,000 Gen Zs asked them about the world of work and their expectations. Their uniqueness as a generation can be seen in their perspectives.
- As a whole, this generation places more emphasis on continual learning, as they recognize that the skills they will need throughout their careers, especially technical ones, do not yet exist.
- Learning and growth opportunities are important in deciding their career paths. 62% want these opportunities in order to improve at their jobs.
- Because much of their communication has been digitally based, many expect their learning opportunities to also be digital and available when needed.
The characteristics and expectations that make Gen Z a unique generation also make them fertile ground for continual growth of security-minded cultures in the businesses in which they work.
- They come to the table already “champions” for cyber security because they have consistently seen the impact of data breaches in day-to-day life.
- They know many forms of digital technology and understand how to configure and use them efficiently.
- They understand inherently that technology changes, so they expect that they will have to be continual learners in order to keep up.
- They expect their learning opportunities to come in a variety of formats and methods and to be “just in time”.
- They are collaborative by nature and will demand work environments that allow for sharing and growth among colleagues (e.g., learning engagement and management platforms that allow for personal interactions and advisement).
As Generation Z is coming into your workforce, be sure to adapt your security awareness, compliance, and anti-phishing programs to fit their needs and strengths. Make them aware of their “security champion” status from day one and provide them the tools they will need to continue to grow in knowledge and collaboration. This generation self-identifies as being loyal and responsible, so they will welcome opportunities to shine and lead in a security-minded culture.
Welcome, Generation Z!