After a decade-long fascination with the millennial generation, attention has moved on to those coming up behind them. Some call them Generation Z, continuing the alphabet labels that were instituted with Gen X but faded fast when Gen Y morphed into Millennials. Dr. Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State and an author who has been studying generations, is recognized as one of the nation’s leading authorities on Millennials. But Twenge has moved on to found iGen Consulting to help people navigate the waters of the next generation. iGen is her name for the Gen Z’ers who have never known life without the internet and iPhones. She says in addition to their unparalleled tech savvy they are identified by their desire for security: this is the generation who were children when the Great Recession struck.
“They place a lot of value on safety, both physical safety and what they call emotional safety, and in the workforce they are very interested in finding jobs that will be stable,” she says describing those born after the mid 90’s. She finds that they are bringing a different work ethic than their older cousins, and don’t have an aversion to working overtime. “They’re more willing to put longer hours into a job than Millennials were.” They grew up with parents who were very protective, and are cautious, with a keen interest in economic stability. They don’t carry the joi de vivre of Millennials. “Millennials are very optimistic, and very self-confident. iGen is much less confident and more concerned with safety,” suggests Twenge. They are highly tolerant socially, even more generous than previous generations in terms of race, gender and sexual orientation. They are more likely to say they want jobs where they can help people, but don’t seem to be as interested in civic affairs, and are more career oriented than the generation who preceded them. Twenge expects iGen to be a powerhouse as they enter the workforce.