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Your Association’s Future: Generation Z

Your Association's Future_

For years we’ve been talking about Millennials. How they are different from previous generations. How to market to them. How to keep them – as employees, members, customers. While Millennials are still as important as ever, we can’t overlook the up and coming generation – Generation Z.

How does Generation Z differ from Millennials?

According to Inc.com, here are some of the main differences:

1. Realistic vs. Optimistic

77% of Generation Z expects to work harder than previous generations. While Millennials grew up with parents living in a time of prosperity and opportunity, Generation Z grew up through a recession.

What does this mean for associations? Working harder can mean many things, but one thing it could mean is continuing to educate themselves after college – i.e. joining associations to receive additional education that will help grow their career, as well as grow their network.

2. Independent vs. Collaborative

71% of Generation Z said they believe the phrase “if you want it done right, then do it yourself.”

What does this mean for associations? While there has been so much emphasis on social learning and collaborating in recent years, Generation Z is turning in a different direction. This more independent, competitive nature, bodes well for taking online courses, on-demand learning, and attending virtual events that associations offer.

3. Digital Natives vs. Digital Pioneers

While Millennials were pioneers, Generation Z was born into the Digital Age. Highly curated global information, on-demand video, and 24/7 news cycles are native to them.

What does this mean for associations? Generation Z will be expecting to take online courses whenever they want, from wherever they are. While they may still attend in-person conferences and classes, they will expect that everything they need will be available online, when it comes to continuing education.

4. Face-to-Face vs. Digital-Only

74% of Generation Z prefer to communicate face-to-face with colleagues. This doesn’t necessarily have to mean ‘in-person’ but Gen Z chooses to use full sight, sound, and motion over technologies such as Slack, FaceTime, GoToMeeting, etc.

What does this mean for associations? Incorporating more video into your online learning courses, as well as live webinars and webcasts, can give Gen Z more of that face-to-face experience they are accustomed to.

5. On-Demand Learning vs. Formal Education

75% of Generation Z says there are other ways of getting a good education than going to college. With many Millennials employed in jobs not requiring degrees and one in eight recent college graduates unemployed, Generation Z is questioning whether acquiring that large student debt is worth it.

What does this mean for associations? Gen Z will pursue on-demand or just-in-time learning solutions — why shouldn’t your association be the place they are receiving this education?

6. Role-Hopping vs. Job-Hopping

75% of Generation Z would be interested in a situation in which they could have multiple roles within one place of employment. They won’t want to miss out on any valuable experience and will want to try out various roles and/or projects.

What does this mean for associations? While moving roles within an organization will probably result in a lot of on-the-job training, Gen Z will want to learn more about new roles they are taking on externally. Cue your association to provide training that not only helps Gen Z switch to an entirely new job, but to new roles within one organization as well.


These six main differences that Inc.com outlines make it clear that there are numerous opportunities for associations to attract and educate Generation Z. Has your association already started to make adjustments and begun reaching out to Gen Z?

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