How Generation Z might change trucking

by Sean Kilcarr
Dec 20, 2016

Contemplate these “generational characteristics” for a moment: a desire for more face-to-face communication and less dependency upon technology, yet a shorter attention span coupled to greater willingness to use profanity while on the phone.

So how might trucking be affected if more and more of its workers exhibit such “characteristics”?

That’s a question to ponder based on the results of two surveys aimed at uncovering key attributes of “Generation Z,” which includes those with birth dates after 1995 (roughly folks aged 18 to 24).

I’ve discussed Generation Z and its potential impact upon trucking in this space before (go here and here for two examples) but now two new surveys seek to delve deeper into the mindset of this up-and-coming cohort of young workers.

First up is the snarkily-titled Rogue One: How Generation Z is Going to Bring Balance to the (work)Force compiled by global enterprise computing firm 8x8, Inc., and Koski Research. They sought to get insight in “Gen Z” as this cohort is going to begin entering the U.S. workforce “in earnest” starting next year.

8x8 polled roughly 1,000 Gen Z, Millennial and Generation X or “Gen X” workers, and found that the work preferences of Gen Z, in many ways, align more with the Gen X cohort than Millennials.

This survey also suggests Gen Z are “less tech-dependent” than Millennials, and more similar to Gen X, when it comes to adopting high-tech devices and apps in their personal lives. Millennials are more likely to use wearables (39%), connected appliances (35%) and virtual reality (24 %) than either Gen Z or Gen X workers.

Additionally, Gen Z values face-to-face communication more than any other generation, with an emphasis on effectiveness over convenience – a major shift from how Millennials prefer to work. While one in four Gen Z workers prefer communicating in person, Millennials were most likely to respond that face-to-face communication will be less important in the future.

“Our goal with this study was to benchmark for the first time how Gen Z communication and work preferences might impact the workplace, especially when it comes to adoption of newer technologies,” noted Enzo Signore, chief marketing officer for 8x8, said in the report.

“We found that while Millennials have encouraged the workplace to become more technologically advanced and remote-work friendly, Gen Z will bring more balance to the workplace through face-to-face communication and tools that will help them communicate more effectively,” he added. “We believe this will start to have an impact over the next 12 months.”

In general, Gen Z preferences are more a “hybrid” of the Millennial and Gen X cohorts, 8x8’s research discerned.

The majority of Gen Z workers polled by the firm said they want a physical workspace (57%) combined with the ability to work remotely (48%) and have flexible hours (73%). Additionally, when asked about the types of communications tools they want to use, the majority of Millennials want tools that will save them the most time.

Adversely, Gen Z wants to use tools that are the most effective, even if it takes more time, demonstrating a desire to do a job well versus quickly.

When it comes to traditional workplace tools, Gen Z brings what 8x8 defined as “balance” between high-tech Millennials and older Gen Xers.

Less than 20% of Gen Z respondents to 8x8’s poll said they are likely to use traditional Gen X tools like email or land lines for work.

But on the flip side, Gen Z is the least likely of every generation to use Millennial favorites like messaging and chat apps in the future workplace.

Smartphones are the exception (no surprise here) and are quickly becoming a hub of communication for all generations, but especially for Gen Z.

When asked which device they used to take the survey, twice the amount of Gen Z respondents (62%) used a smartphone over Millennials (31%) and Gen X (28%).

Here are a few other interesting findings from 8x8’s survey:

  • Email on the decline: More than half of all generations surveyed do not believe they will use email for work in the future.
  • Robots are here to stay: Nearly seven in 10 of all respondents agreed that at least some of their current jobs could be automated by robots today, with even more agreeing that “bots” will automate some part of their jobs in the future.
  • Connected home will impact work: On average, 55% of all respondents agreed that connected devices, such as cars, refrigerators, etc. could be used for work in the future.
  • No more lines between personal and work tech: The majority of all respondents (56%) would prefer to use the same tools for work as in their personal lives.

Now, with all of that in mind, add in some interesting data compiled by advertising analytics company Marchex.

They found that Gen Z has surpassed Millennials as the consumer group with the shortest attention spans who are the fastest to hang up while on hold and the quickest to curse at customer service agents.

Surprisingly, Gen Z also has a much higher tendency to make old-fashioned phone calls to businesses they’ve found online than any other age group, the study found.

Marchex examined anonymous data from more than 2.3 million consumer phone calls to businesses throughout the U.S. this year, focusing on the “Gen Z” age bracket of 18 to 24.

Here are a few interesting Gen Z data points Marchex identified

  • Gen Z consumers are 60% more likely than the average consumer to hang up if the phone is not answered within 45 seconds, showing they may value fast, responsive customer service more than other age groups.
  • Gen Zers are also 30% more likely to curse over the phone at a business than the average consumer when they feel their needs aren’t being met. Marchex Call Analytics technology analyzed consumers’ usage and frequency of the most common curse words in the English language for this study.
  • Contrary to popular perception, Gen Zers do not prefer digital-only interactions; in fact, this group is the most likely of any age group to click-to-call a business from a mobile phone after searching for that business online.
  • For example, GenZers are 2.6 times more likely to actually call a wireless company, 2.5 times more likely to call a cable company, and 1.6 times more likely to call a hotel than the average consumer.

“The truth is Gen Z places a premium on connecting in real time over the phone,” noted Sabrina Gravlee, analytics manager at the Marchex Institute.

How might such characteristics among Gen Z workers affect the trucking industry over the long-haul? One way or another, were going to start finding out very soon.

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Discuss this Blog Entry 1

on Dec 21, 2016

This is an excellent article full of interesting research on 18-24 year olds. Unfortunately they are probably not Gen Z, they are more likely "late" Millennials. The Millennials span from around 1983 to 2002 or so, according to the most scholarly work on generations (see Stauss and Howe books: "Generations" and "The Fourth Turning"). The oldest of them by that research is between 14 or 15. The idea that Gen Z is older came from a more recent book and was based on market research, not historical analysis of generational patterns.

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