Culturati: LIVE Recap — Leading Different Generations in Unprecedented Times

Do you know how the pandemic is really affecting your employees? When you tell your team “We’re all in this together,” are you telling the truth? Is everyone’s experience the same?

January’s Culturati: LIVE featured Jason Dorsey, President, Speaker and Lead Researcher for The Center for Generational Kinetics and Co-Author of Zconomy: How Gen Z Will Change the Future of Business — And What to Do About It. His research shatters generational myths and sheds unique light on generational challenges. Here’s what he had to say about how Covid-19 is affecting each generation today and how businesses should pivot to support its employees and win the loyalty of the up-and-coming Z generation.

Yes, it’s true, we are all going through the pandemic at the same time, but according to Jason Dorsey and The Center for Generational Kinetics’ research, the Covid-19 experience is very different for each individual based on gender, geography, socio-economic factors, geography and…the generation the individual was born into.

Collectively, all generations are suffering right now; however, research shows the generation most negatively impacted by Covid-19 today is Gen Z — especially in the workplace. Why is Covid-19 the Z generation’s defining moment? As a group, Gen Z is the number one generation today to lose their jobs, see a decrease in wages and be re-assigned to jobs they were not hired to do. They are the last hired and the first fired. Gen Z tends to work in industries that have the biggest lay-offs — hospitality, retail, etc. Data shows almost half of Gen Z’s work hours have decreased and over 1/3 are not able to work or get paid. In fact, 25% of Gen Z agree that they will be worse off when the pandemic is over.

Millennials are suffering too, but differently than Gen Z. Millennials feel they just recovered from the trauma of the Great Recession and starting to make traction when Covid-19 hit — causing many of them to feel like they’re losing the momentum they had built. Meanwhile, Gen X is being pulled in multiple directions because they are often taking care of children, aging parents and trying to hold onto their jobs. Meanwhile, many Baby Boomers are realizing that their hopes for retirement might be pushed further into the future. Many Boomers are also using their emergency savings for financial support and may have to remain in the work force longer than originally anticipated.

What does this all mean for leaders in the workplace and the future of their businesses?

Dorsey says leaders need to recognize and respect that although everyone is going through the pandemic at the same time, employees are being affected in very different ways. Leaders should keep in mind that each generation’s experience affects what they are carrying with them during this time. To be an effective manager in today’s climate, put the drill sergeant strength and resilience pep talk aside. Overwhelmingly, CGK’s national research shows that employees want managers who tell the truth and communicate clearly.

But there are still some variances among generations when it comes to how they want to be managed. Gen Z wants managers who are well informed and empathetic to employee challenges and a workplace that offers flexible scheduling and a good culture. Surprisingly, data shows the ability to work remotely and the latest technology are the LEAST attractive factors when in comes to recruiting Gen Z. Millennials want a manager who is well prepared and solve problems quickly. Gen X and Boomers want managers who are honest and candid.

In addition to having an impact in the workplace, generations’ experiences shape the future and have an impact on the marketplace. It’s important for corporate and non-profit leaders to understand and tap into generational trends to stay competitive. For instance, in the past, Gen Z favored brands that championed climate change, but CGK’s national research today shows Gen Z has collectively made a shift and now most favors brands and companies that support ending poverty and homelessness, racial equality, stopping human trafficking and ending hunger.

Gen Z is unique from other generations and certainly one to watch — it’s the generation most impacted by today’s pandemic and is on track to change the future of business. Dorsey says three Gen Z trends to be tracking right now are: change in personal credit limits, access to same day pay and return to school trends. He also recommends leaders take these five actions today to meet the needs of Generation Z moving forward:

  1. Make your job applications easy to start and save as applicants go on a mobile device. Make sure you have the ability to nudge promising candidates who started applications to finish them via text. This action alone can increase your Gen Z applicant completion rate significantly.
  2. Provide videos of the performance you expect. Make the videos viewable on any mobile device. The reason is that when leaders say “good customer service” it means different things to different generations, so make the message video-based with examples and employees are much more likely to deliver it.
  3. The future of onboarding is via text. This has the highest deliverability, greatest response, and matches how Gen Z likes to communicate, learn, and engage.
  4. Feedback is important. Increase the frequency of your communication with Gen Z employees because unlike older generations, Gen Z believes if their boss is not communicating with them, they are doing something wrong. This does not mean long conversations, but quick “touch base” feedback or IMs once or twice a week.
  5. Be mindful of how you let employees go — do so with respect, empathy, and dignity. Your actions as a leader will affect the attitudes of those who remain and determine if they take their talents elsewhere when the market changes.

Interested in learning more about generational research in the workplace and beyond? Check out Jason Dorsey’s new book or visit for more information, videos, and lots of data.

About Jason Dorsey

The #1 Gen Z and Millennial Speaker, Strategist, and Researcher

Jason Dorsey is the most sought-after Gen Z, Millennial, and generational speaker, strategic advisor, and global researcher. His latest bestselling book is Zconomy: How Gen Z Will Change the Future of Business and What To Do About It.

Jason’s passion is solving generational challenges for leaders using his unique behavioral research discoveries. His talent is applying insights from his 65+ research studies with his frontline experience working with over 700 clients to uncover specific, new solutions that drive measurable results. He serves on several corporate boards and is very active in the Austin venture community.

Jason has been featured on 200+ TV shows, including 60 Minutes, The Today Show, CNBC, and The Early Show. Adweek calls Jason a “research guru.” Jason is known for discovering Millennials are breaking into two generations: Mega-llennials and Me-llennials. He’s also known for his quote, “Technology is only new if you remember it the way it was before.” Jason was the first to share with the media that COVID-19 was Gen Z’s generation-defining moment–which led to extensive media coverage.

The January Culturati: LIVE event was hosted by Entrepreneurs Foundation of Central Texas, with special thanks to Capital Factory, Leadership Austin and United Way for Greater Austin.




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Culturati Team

Culturati Team

Culturati is a community of CEOs, entrepreneurs, investors and other c-suite leaders who practice & study culture building and share our play books.

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