The "connection generation" is more than just Millennials

Guest post by Rocky Ozaki, VP People & Culture at Rise

In my previous post I attempted to bring a unified definition to “HR is Dead.” Next on my list is the “connected generation.” While this term may not be spoken as often as HR is dead, it’s one that I feel strongly about, and hope more people will recognize the value in looking beyond just one generation’s influence on the future of work.

So what—and who—is the connected generation?

I believe this term was first coined by marketing professionals some five or more years ago, and like “HRisDead”, has been used as a catchphrase by countless people, professions and business sectors ever since.

From a marketing lens, I’ve learned the connected generation is, “willing and open to communications, building relationships and [they] ultimately make buying decisions based on digital content and interactions" (thanks, Ryan Hanley). Notice there is no fixation on just Millennials? All ages, if you are digitally active, can be lured by the powerful forces of content marketing.

In the People & Culture (HR) world, the connected generation—at least in my opinion—comprises individuals that expect a vastly differently workplace than what generally prevails today. This generation will ultimately make career decisions based on how authentically a company can live the characteristics of the Future of Work. Again, it’s not just about Millennials.

I stress this point because if we focus only on estimations that Millennials will comprise 50%+ of the workforce by 2025, we are neglecting the reality that talent from Gen Z and Gen X are expecting much of the same workplace demands.

I’m in Gen X and I can adamantly say that my peers and I have completely bought into the Future of Work (I’ll define that in my next post). When you combine the three generations, they could collectively comprise 75%+ of the workforce in the next decade. And I think that’s conservative.

If these numbers are in the ballpark you are willing to accept, imagine how powerful a voice the connected generation will have in shaping the workplace of tomorrow (or today, if you work in a forward thinking company or any startup). And if you are not one of these companies? You’ve already fallen way behind.

My intent is not to inform businesses on how they should lead multigenerational workplaces, or unpack the uniquenesses of the connected generation, but rather to shed light on its massive population, and to socialize the idea that Millennials alone are not changing the world.

As anchor points, I would suggest that this cohort distinguishes itself by their technological prowess, a desire to innovate and essentially debunk every legacy industry and way of living and working that existed in the previous generations, their enthusiastic embrace of the sharing economy, and their high expectations of collaboration, transparency, and purpose-driven work.

So, if you asked me to define the connected generation from the People and Culture lens, here goes:

Connected Generation

/ kəˈnekt ed /ˌjenəˈrāSH(ə)n /

  1. A blend of people from every generation in the collective workforce, who expect a vastly differently workplace than what generally prevails today, and will ultimately make career decisions based on how authentically a company can live the characteristics of the Future of Work;

  2. Altruistic innovators and disruptors who are dependent on technology;

  3. They are not just Millennials.

This is the second in a three part series. I’ll define the, “future of work” next because that definition becomes incredibly important if I’m accurate on my assumptions of the connected generation.

Let’s connect. Find me on LinkedIn or Twitter at @rockyozaki.