So you've mastered Millennials - are you ready for what comes next?

By Guest Contributor, July 17, 2018

This is a guest blog post by Calvin Hsu, Vice President Product Marketing at Citrix

Millennials are now the largest peer group in the US workforce and account for 35% of the employed population

Their entrance into the workplace has already had a massive impact on the way organizations operated, as our Workplace 2025 white paper.

This brings its own benefits and challenges, and while many companies have learnt to deal with both there’s already another learning curve on the horizon: Generation Z.

With those born after 1996 increasingly entering the workforce, how can you prepare for the new wave of change they’ll bring?

Learn to balance generational differences

There are clear differences between millennial expectations of a workplace and those of Gen Z.

Millennials prefer open workspaces and collaborative settings: the ‘boundary-less workplace’. But we’re seeing the reverse of this among Gen Z, who prefer things to be set up in an individualised way.

This brings its own benefits and challenges, and while many companies have learnt to deal with both there’s already another learning curve on the horizon: Generation Z.

This is one of the main Gen Z characteristics: they’re all about individuality. They’re less interested in fashionable workplace styles, prioritising what’s right for them personally.

Gen Z are also the world’s first true digital natives. They can’t remember a time without technology.

Millennials, on the other hand, only experienced the ubiquity of the internet when they came of age. They’re still rapid adopters of technology, but their habits and attitudes are less natural than those of the Gen Z.

This manifests itself primarily in multi-tasking. Gen Z tend to use lots of devices with multi-screens to complete several tasks all at once, which makes things a lot less predictable from a security perspective, since there is no straightforward workflow.

For Gen Z your approach should revolve less around an if/then policy and instead focus on protecting and monitoring short bursts of activity, i.e. 10 minutes of note-taking followed by 15 minutes on a conference call.

It’s important not to fight against these generational differences. You can’t mould people into working in the same way. Embracing different expectations and desires and understanding how they fit together is a crucial part of preparing for the future.

Diverging approaches to security

Millennials and their successors also differ when it comes to personal approaches to security.

The older generation are pioneers of social media. They tend to put everything out there, while their Gen Z counterparts are more cognisant of privacy. The fact that Gen Z prefer Snapchat out of all forms of social media is quite telling: this platform is closed to friends and doesn’t display user’s posts permanently.

Gen Z in general is better at thinking about privacy, permissions and permanence. But while they are aware of the importance of security, they are not so good at working out their role in maintaining it – especially in a corporate setting.

A personal touch for the next generation

Welcoming the next generation into the workplace will require a more sophisticated approach to security driven by behavioural analysis and personal profiling.

Cyber security should be based on user behaviour, just like banking security. Your bank tracks data like your spending habits, when you pay your bills and where you tend to shop and then monitors account transactions to see if they are in keeping with the pattern. If they aren’t, there’s reason for suspicion.

This behavioural approach is particularly important because generational differences actually make it difficult to standardise what is normal. What is normal for a Gen Z user is very different from what is normal for a Millennial user.

Behavioural analytics takes this into account by examining every account as an individual.

This is far more effective than a one-size-fits-all policy, since there is no ‘one size’ across the many generations who inhabit a workplace.

Ignore Gen Z at your own risk

The benefits of a multi-generational workplace are huge: diversity, creativity, and originality are all brought about when you can get different age groups in the same room.

But what are the risks for your organization if you don’t prepare for the next generation?

Employee engagement and retention are the number one danger if you don’t develop a digital workplace fit for Gen Z. People of this generation have high expectations of their employers, particularly when it comes to technology.

If they feel held back by irritating security restrictions, they’ll simply do their own thing to get around them. Or worse: leave your business altogether.

Give them the tools to be productive on their terms, however, and they’ll make your organization brighter, faster and better.

Find out more about how you can make remote work safe for employees and your organization in our latest blog with Citrix.

Visit the Fujitsu blog to find out more about protecting yourself from cyber-crime.

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