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Gen Z @ Work: How the Next Generation Is Transforming the Workplace

March 21, 2017

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David and Jonah Stillman's new book examines a generation just now entering the workforce, and the changes they'll bring with them.

It's in the nature of business and culture that, just when it feels like a topic has reached critical mass, when everyone is talking about it, those truly in the know are inevitably already on to the next thing. David Stillman is that way with generational change and transitions in the workplace. He has written not one, but two seminal books on the topic—When Generations Collide, and The M-Factor: How the Millennial Generation Is Rocking the Workplace. He wrote those books with Lynne Lancaster, whom he had met and clashed with while working at a previous job. Talking over the project after its successful completion, they realized that they were butting heads largely over generational differences and norms. Lynne was a baby boomer, he a Gen Xer. But, instead of going their separate ways with that knowledge, they quit their jobs and teamed up together to teach others how to avoid that kind of generational friction. 

But, after more than a decade on the road doing speeches and consulting, David decided it was time to take a break—in part to spend more time with his three children at home. And that is where he found his next co-author. Gen Z @ Work: How the Next Generation Is Transforming the Workplace is co-authored with his son and business partner, Jonah, a "seventeen-year-old high school senior and currently the youngest speaker on the circuit." 

Companies just getting around to figuring out how to recruit millennials are sure to be annoyed being told they need to start considering yet another new wave of workers entering the workforce. David has definitely encountered such feelings:

 

I definitely sense a feeling of Millennial fatigue out there … there isn't a day that goes by where we don't hear something about the Millennials. People are just tired of talking about a generation, which definitely does not bode well for Gen Z. However, as I share some results from our national surveys about Gen Z at work, I watch most faces go from mad, exhausted, or confused to relieved, excited, and definitely intrigued.

 

The book doesn't feel co-authored so much as it reads as a conversation between father and son, with David leading the conversation on most issues and Jonah interjecting (in a separate font) as an intermediary for his own generation, with authentic and informative insights about what he and his peers are up to (literally taking over the world, as all generations do). 

 

Like my dad said, there is some Millennial fatigue out there, which does not bode well for my generation. We've barely showed up at work and some people are already over us? That doesn't seem fair. It also doesn't seem smart. There are 72 million of us. Ignoring Gen Z would be like pretending the entire population of Germany doesn't exist. Fast Company reports that by 2020, Gen Z is predicted to make up 40 percent of the population. 

 

And it's now entering the workforce. And that process is going change the way we work, changes that Gen Z @ Work can help navigate. 

Although David usually leads the conversation, there are times when Jonah carries the weight of the book. And it can be quite a weight, such as when they're discussing the "Events and Conditions" of his generation. This is a generation that has grown up in a globalized economy and during an ongoing (and, Jonah submits, never-ending) military campaign against global terrorism. They saw the economy collapse in the Great Recession, and are confronting the potential of environmental collapse. Jonah doesn't shy away from any of these topics, even the most politically sensitive ones, and offers his opinions and perspective freely, acting as a voice of his generation. 

The coming of a new generation and the change inherent in it is fascinating just from a sociological perspective. I'm struck throughout by the simplest observations that expose the ways a society changes: 

 

If anyone is curious whether Gen Z is different from the Millennials, take a step back and think about how different their parents are! For most, Boomers raised Millennials and Gen X raised Gen Z.

 

And we'll all be co-existing in the workplace soon. To help make make sure it's more of a collaboration than a competition, that we're using our differences as a source of strength instead of a barrier to overcome, you can turn to David and Jonah Stillman, and Gen Z @ Work. In it, you have the perspective of a man that's been helping bridge generational divides in the workplace for over a generation now. And his son, co-author, and business partner is a member of and a bridge to the next generation. 

We have 20 copies available.

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