Investing in people solves long term problems, but which people? The latest generation to enter into the workforce is Gen Z, those born between 2001 and 2020. This generation has grown up with technology and have become accustomed to its use, which terms them “digital natives.”
This term was first used in 2001 by Marc Prensky, an American writer and speaker. In contrast to millennials and generations prior, “digital natives” interact with the world technology-first. Since they have grown up alongside the rapid evolution of the internet, social media, and other digital innovations, they have developed a natural fluency in navigating the digital landscape. As a result of being immersed in a digital world since birth, Gen Z’s early exposure has significantly influenced their thinking, behavior, and learning styles.
Characteristics of “Digital Natives”
- Technological Proficiency: “Digital natives” are comfortable with and skilled in using various digital devices and platforms. They effortlessly multitask, switching between apps, websites, and communication channels with ease.
- Socially Engaged: Gen Z exist on social media and maintain an extensive online network that spans beyond geographical boundaries. Their interconnectedness has transformed activism, allowing them to mobilize quickly and rally support for various causes.
- Information Seekers: Accustomed to the vast repository of information available at their fingertips, “digital natives” research thoroughly and think critically. This abundance of information necessitates deductive reasoning skills to distinguish credible sources from misinformation. However, “digital natives” may sometimes struggle with information overload.
- Short Attention Spans: The constant exposure to rapid streams of information has led to shorter attention spans among “digital natives,” influencing the way information is consumed and delivered.
- Entrepreneurial Spirit: Gen Z is showing a remarkable entrepreneurial spirit, with many of them starting their own businesses or side projects from a young age. Their familiarity with digital marketing and e-commerce platforms has lowered the barriers to entry, allowing them to explore and experiment with business ideas more easily.
- Diversity and Inclusivity Advocates: Gen Z values diversity and inclusivity, and they expect the same from the organizations they work for. They are keen on joining workplaces that prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, and they actively participate in promoting these values within their communities.
Engaging and Supporting “Digital Natives”
- Integrating Technology in Education: To cater to “digital natives’” learning preferences, educators must embrace technology in the classroom. Interactive presentations, online learning platforms, and virtual collaboration tools can enhance engagement and knowledge retention.
- Emphasizing Critical Thinking: As “digital natives” consume vast amounts of information daily, critical thinking skills are paramount. Education should focus on helping them evaluate information critically, discern reliable sources, and approach online content with a discerning eye.
- Embracing Lifelong Learning: With technology constantly evolving, “digital natives” must cultivate a mindset of continuous learning. Encouraging a thirst for knowledge and adaptability will continue to serve them well in an ever-changing digital landscape.
- Adjusting to the Rise of Remote Work: The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of remote work, and “digital natives” are well-equipped to thrive in this flexible work environment. Their comfort with technology allows them to collaborate seamlessly across time zones and work on-the-go, making them valuable assets in a digitally connected world.
- Developing Emotional Intelligence: Amidst the technological advancements, leaders must not overlook the importance of emotional intelligence (EQ). Digital transformation can be emotionally challenging for individuals and teams. Leaders with high EQ can effectively manage emotions, build trust, and foster a positive work environment during times of change. EQ development should be prioritized in leadership training to equip young leaders with the interpersonal skills necessary to navigate complex digital transformations.
Generation Z, the “digital natives,” are poised to revolutionize the world of business and leadership. Their inherent technological proficiency, social engagement, and information-seeking abilities equip them to navigate the challenges of the digital era. By embracing their unique characteristics and supporting their development through technology-driven education, critical thinking, emotional intelligence, and a lifelong learning mindset, organizations can unlock the full potential of this generation.
As they rise to leadership positions, their entrepreneurial spirit, commitment to social impact, and advocacy for diversity and inclusivity will undoubtedly shape a brighter and more innovative future for businesses and society as a whole. Investing in the development of these “digital natives” now will yield substantial returns for organizations in the long run, positioning them at the forefront of the ever-evolving digital landscape.
Interviewer.AI is a technology platform purposely built to support Recruiters and HR teams in finding top talent for their companies. We also work with universities to help them with admissions and coaching, helping them use technology to solve for talent and training. Our mission is to make hiring equitable, explainable, and efficient. to screen in advance and shortlist the candidates that meet the criteria set.
Brynn Hochman is a Content Writer at Interviewer.AI. She thrives on communication and connection and ponders how the digital landscape will change with the emergence of AI technologies. She plans to go to law school to grow her critical thinking and communication skills.