The generation game: how to win with Centennials

Are you ready to win the hearts of the new, digital-first, value-focused and brand-disloyal generation?

Just when you thought you’d successfully navigated the Millennial minefield and emerged unscathed, in marches a new breed of digital natives. Is your business ready to take them on?

By 2025, Centennials will account for 30% of the global workforce, jumping into the workplace melting pot of Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Gen X and Millennials.

Their expectations? High.

Their brand loyalty? Low.

But your rewards for winning them over could be huge.

Here, we reveal everything you need to know about this exciting new wave of workers, shoppers and future-shapers to help you prepare your business for long term success.

How well do you know your generations?

 

Generation Born
Centennials/Gen Z After 1996
Millennials/Gen Y Between 1977 – 1995
Generation X Between 1965 – 1976
Baby Boomers Between 1946 – 1964
Traditionalists or Silent Generation Before 1945

 

Preparing for a Centennial workforce

Centennials will soon enter the job market. So, what can you expect from them and how do they work?

How do Centennials work?

 

They’re multi-multi-taskers

Switching between screens comes naturally to Centennials, which means they are pro-multi-taskers. They are able to juggle multiple projects at one time, without sacrificing the quality of their work – all the while, mastering a work/life blend.

They’re glued to their phones

Employers shouldn’t be worried if Centennials are on their phones all day – it’s their default position for communicating with colleagues, taking notes and doing research.

“What really upset me at the meeting was the assumption that by pulling out my phone, I wasn’t paying attention. I’m a digital native. My friends and I have only known a world where phones are smart. My iPhone is a computer, and it’s natural to take notes on it.” – Jonah Stillman, NY Times

They crave independence

72% of teens say they want to start their own business someday. Some of them started their business in high school. Working for someone else at a corporation is less appealing to this generation, who want to be independent. Give them independence in a role, and they’re more likely to thrive and add value to your business.

Understanding Centennials

From their psychology to their practical and materialistic behaviour, here’s everything you need to know before welcoming the new generation into your workplace.

What do they know?

 

They don’t know a world without digital technology.

From the moment they were born, technology has touched every part of their lives. They’ve never had to cash a cheque, use a hard encyclopedia for homework or open a filing cabinet.

They’ve grown up in the public eye.

Social media took off in 2000 so, it’s in their nature to document their lives online, for all to see. Their knowledge of social media can be a great asset to businesses as they have the potential to create a positive brand image to help the business gain recognition and engagement online to drive success.

What do they think?

 

They’re informal pragmatists.

They’ve had a much more informal upbringing than older generations and the casual start-up, side-hustle, chase-your-passion, anything-is-possible Millennial mindset has set an example.

They’re accepting liberals.

Gay marriage, transgenderism and female equality are the norm for Centennials. More than any other generation, they are accepting of everyone, and these topics don’t need debating.

How do they purchase?

 

They care about value and values.

Centennials aren’t afraid to spend. They’re also willing to pay a premium for offers that increase the perceived value of the product, service or experience. They’re also socially and environmentally aware, and prefer to shop at places that support these causes.

They shop online for efficiency.

Centennials prefer to shop online because it’s efficient, but they also shop in physical stores for the functional benefits, not because they actually want to.

How do they interact with brands?

 

They trust social influencers

Centennials trust peers over brands, so featuring in an influencer narrative will be more persuasive than advertising. Influencers are also transparent about paid posts, and Centennials trust them to make a conscious decision about who they work with.

They aren’t loyal to brands

Centennials will move on quickly if a brand doesn’t meet their expectations. They don’t tolerate mistakes and they don’t give brands second chances. If a page fails to load, they don’t have the patience to try again.

Managing an intergenerational workplace

Soon, your office could be catering to the conflicting wants and needs of five very different generations. So, what do Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Gen x and Millennials make of Centennials?

According to Deloitte, Millennials are looking forward to welcoming their new coworkers, but are also wary. They believe the strength of Centennials lies in their technology and creative skills, which will have a positive impact on the business. But they lack the necessary softer skills to drive long term business success, such as ‘patience, maturity and integrity’.

1. Mix and match project teams
Combining diverse skill sets and perspectives can ‘prompt innovation and new problem-solving techniques’, according to Forbes.

2. Let newbies take the lead as and when
This will help them integrate quickly and develop the confidence they need to bring their skills, experience and opinions to the table. At the same time, all generations can learn from the others’unique areas of expertise. For example it is equally important for Centennials to learn from the real-life experiences of their more experienced colleagues.

3. Create a mentorship scheme
Centennials will need mentors who will look out for them and guide them. You could also consider coaching and on-boarding sessions to introduce Centennial employees to the established ways of working to help them develop the softer skills they still need to hone.

4. Revisit your technology and social media policies
You’ll need to bring them in line with Centennial expectations regarding the use of technology –specifically personal tech in the workplace. You could even involve them in the change decision as, they may be able to provide insights into this technology, not previously considered.

Preparing for the Centennials could bring about some exciting new business changes. Lay the foundations for your new workforce now, and you can look forward to long-term success in the future, creating a workplace where everyone is happier, feels valued and is more productive.