Now that Generation Z are entering the workforce in greater numbers (21 years old), we will have 4 generations in the workplaces, in some organisations maybe even 5 if you still have a few traditionalists. A baby boomer or a traditionalist may have experienced change in their life time and career, but this will be nothing compared to what our younger Gen A or iGen will experience.
Time have changed for sure! Organisations that offered stable careers when a baby boomer was working now rarely do. A job in the petrochemical, steel or telecommunications industries made sense in 1968. For Gen Z, Fortune’s top 25 in 2018 reflects only five firms from 1968 and there is a profound change in the mix of leading industries. Today retail, health and financial firms have displaced petrochemical, steel and telecommunications companies that garnered top spots decades earlier.
One of the challenges moving forward is the need for people to keep learning and embracing change, technology innovations and new ways of working. Buckminster Fuller coined the idea of knowledge doubling which suggests that knowledge, in a given field or human endeavour, doubles at a predictable, but accelerating rate. Fuller argued that in 1900 human knowledge doubled about every 100 years and by 1950 knowledge doubled every 25 years. A 2006 IBM study forecasted that human knowledge might be doubling every 11 hours! Today it is widely accepted that knowledge doubles, but at different rates in different fields. Medical education provides a startling example. One researcher projects that by 2020 medical knowledge might double every 73 days. This means change and continuous innovation and learning will be the only constant.
Even for tech savvy Gen Z, the accelerating pace of technological advancement will soon transform their smart phones and smart speakers into technologies reminiscent of brick phones and high fidelity stereos. Augmented reality, AI and robots will continue to transform our work places. We all know younger generations seek more feedback than their older peers, so maybe once robots are employed in greater numbers, a robot may give this feedback or maybe the Gen Y is giving feedback to a robot!
The world is changing for sure! Where older generations once held the authority and power, younger generations may be the ones holding the golden ticket to a place yet unknown.