Address: 8 Houlton Drive, Palm Beach, 4275, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa | Tel: 031 702 0449 | Fax: 086 605 2670

Emerging HR Challenges in 2017 Part Two: The Rise of the Generation Z


There are a great many challenges that face any human resources department and its personnel. Some however, are more pressing than others. This is the second part of our look at the 5 biggest challenges facing the human resources community in 2017.

A great deal has been written, discussed and debated within the national and global human resources community about the impact of Millennials on any workplace. In fact, the better part of the last decade has been devoted to analyzing, dissecting and understanding this young group of workers. However, in 2017 it’s important to realise that the upper end of this demographic are not so young and fresh faced anymore, they’re in their mid-thirties and a new group of young people are entering the world of work – Generation Z.

Who are Generation Z?

Baby boomers, Generation X, Millennials and now Generation Z, it’s not too hard to see why understanding the basic demographics and dynamics of the average workplace is becoming even more of a challenge for human resources professionals. Who are Generation Z? They are those born between 1994 – or maybe 1996 according to some – and around 2006 or 2007 (there’s still some debate about those dates too) and the older members of this demographic are entering the workplace in droves, bringing with them new habits, new ideas and, for HR people, lots of new challenges as well.

What Makes Generation Z Different?

Perhaps the biggest thing that separates Gen Z from their demographic cohorts is their familiarity with, and reliance on, the Internet. These are young people who never lived in a world without it and the vast majority don’t remember the bad old days of dial up either (lucky them.) They also don’t remember what it was like to live in a world without cellphones, or really grasp the concept of sending a letter through the post or sending a fax rather than simply shooting off an email or sending a text message. In other words, they are the tech-savviest group of workers to enter the workplace to date.

Other than this, relatively little is known about Generation Z and how they will fit into a workplace that also includes Millennials starting to come to terms with the idea of taking on leadership roles, Generation X’ers who are juggling more responsibility than ever before and Baby Boomers who are choosing to remain at work rather than head off into the “golden era” of retirement just yet.

Balancing a Multi-Generational Workforce

In theory right now – and increasingly in reality in businesses in many niches – it’s quite possible that Grandma, Mum and Granddaughter may all be working for the same company. And as you might imagine this is almost certainly going to present some real challenges for human resources professionals.

The key challenge will be trying to ensure that everyone feels valued and that everyone is given the tools and time to achieve their potential and contribute to the company in the best way possible. Solving this challenge will not be easy, it’s likely to call for research, observation, listening and cooperation, but learning how best to manage this melting pot of employees is certainly something any HR manager will need to keep top of mind in the year to come and even further on.