As “Gen Z”, those born after 2000, marches towards the age of becoming a key part of the professional workforce, at 2 Billion strong they are a force to be reckoned with. In preparation for this next wave of workers, employers are studying the habitats and habits of this group to ensure that they are not caught unaware and unprepared, as many were for the Millennial invasion. Uncovering contemporary trends and behaviors in the workforce is key to success for most organizations and especially in the Credit Union industry where providing exceptional member focus relies on engaged employees.

I am part of Gen X and despite the differences, I enjoy having Millennial co-workers. They have helped me put my vast collection of records (yes records) and CD’s into a portable device – that doesn’t skip when I run, read “Discman”.  They know what I don’t know. I was unsettled recently, to be part of a conversation where Millennials were deeming the Gen Z wave as being lazy, uninterested in education, wanting only on run their own business and possessing extremely short attention spans. 

Trying to remain optimistic while considering how to best incorporate this information into employment strategies, I went shoe shopping. Fortunately, a legacy, national store was having a huge shoe sale. After, I unsuccessfully tried to jam my size 9 foot into a gorgeous size 8 ruby sling-back, I approached the Gen Z sales clerk and asked her if perhaps, they had my size 9 in the stockroom. 

Kristi, as her nameplate shared, looked at me and started tapping on her phone, and replied:

“Um No. All stock is out on the floor”.

I tried to fight the “lazy much Gen Z Kristi?” thought that burst in my mind at Kristi’s apparent lack of industry in my pursuit of the dream ruby sling-back, and instead tried to engage her by asking who she was texting. Kristi blithely responded, “My friend Naomi?”

I felt my blood pressure rising as it seemed as if all the negative things that had been attributed to her generation were being manifested in Kristi. Not only was Kristi uninterested in education, she was also uninterested in my ruby sling-backs! 

Kristi continued her conversation:” …She works in our Dallas store? and they always have unsold larger sizes? So… if they have it there she can put it in the mail for you tomorrow?”

As we waited for Naomi to work her magic, I questioned Kristi and was delighted to find that she and her friend Naomi have never actually met in person and yet by identifying the opportunity of surplus shoe sizes in their respective stores they have created a little entrepreneurial business which has mutually increased their sales and improved their customer survey responses.

Creating virtual relationships, identifying opportunities within established environments while contributing positively to both the customer experience and the legacy brands mission and values? Welcome to our workforce Gen Z!  

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