guest column:Emmanuel Zvada
As we sail through these uncertain times, reorienting and adapting to the new normal has become the topmost priorities for every generation.
Companies are focusing on remote working, virtual hiring, employee wellbeing, and adopting the latest wellness trends and strategies. Every generation from zillenials, millennials and boomers has been affected by the pandemic.
Although no one knows for sure what the long-term consequences of the pandemic will be, experts predict it will have a lasting impact on people of all generations as everybody is being touched and affected by the pandemic.
Which generation are you?
We often use phrases or words that we do not fully understand especially when it comes to naming different generations which are the boomers, generation X, Y and Z.
Despite these different age groups at our workplaces, there is often quite a lot of confusion regarding which generational classification everyone technically falls into.
Baby boomer is a term used to describe a person who was born between 1946 and 1964 and are those that are close to retirement if they are still at work.
For the sake of this article, I will categorise all as baby boomers though there are also different categories of boomers.
Anyone born between the years 1965 and 1980 is considered a member of generation X. Generation X is the demographic cohort following the baby boomers and preceding the millennials and zillenials.
This generation has an increased understanding of technology, having grown up during the age of computers and they are often characterised by high levels of scepticism, “what’s in it for me” in whatever they do.
Generation X is arguably said to be the generation that started to introduce the idea of a solid work-life balance into the workforce.
We also have generation Y which includes a group of people born during the ‘80s and the early ‘90s and they are also referred to as millennials, the internet generation.
They are much more racially and ethnically diverse and they are much more segmented as an audience aided by the rapid expansion in internet and technology.
Generation Z is the current generation and I prefer calling them zillenials or zommers. This generation includes those born between 1996 and 2010, following millennials.
This generation has been raised on the internet and social media, with the oldest finishing college by 2020 and entering the workforce.
How COVID-19 is affecting the generations
Millennials, aged 26-40 years old, include both young and established career professionals who may also be new parents or homeowners.
Generation Z, age 11 to 25 years old, is now beginning to come of age, complete their education, and move into the workforce.
Baby boomers who were looking forward to retirement were not financially well-prepared, even before the pandemic.
Given how the pandemic has hurt the job market, topping up retirement savings in the near term will be a challenge even to the generation X.
It is also crucial to mention that to the boomers and millennials who jumped into expensive investments, mortgages, and start-ups in 2019, most of them are finding themselves struggling to make those payments — 2020 is an uneasy road.
Not surprisingly, it’s a reality that a large majority of generation Z has career paths less stable due to COVID-19. One of the most lamented aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic is the loss of graduation season and some of them even failing to finish their different levels of education in a normal way, especially for final year students.
Due to economic pressure and the limitations of life during this pandemic and lockdown, many younger consumers have already tightened their budgets and focused their spending on essentials like food, housing, health and education.
Economic difficulties are not the only challenges being faced by these generations. Living through the pandemic has caused many changes in everyday life.
Many millennials also face the stress of working from home while simultaneously caring for their families and guess what, most of them have actually turned to buying and selling to cushion their salaries which were cut by some employers.
It is also important to note that most people have lost their jobs, current job prospects and the crisis has disrupted their education and training.
This can have a lasting impact on their careers and can result in a domino effect on the recovery of businesses in the post-crisis world.
Another concern for many parents and grandparents, no matter which generation they belong to, is what the pandemic might mean to the youngest generation.
How will the social, economic, and political changes that result from the pandemic affect the future of our kids is the question that is in everyone’s mind.
How different generations are responding to COVID-19
The coronavirus pandemic and resultant quarantine have forced consumers to adjust their daily routines to revolve around digital connectivity.
With millions of people staying at home, digital media consumption has ascended to new heights with generation Z leading the charge.
The increased time spent on digital devices is beginning to pave new trends in the communications industry, but with the zillenials leading.
Organisations with many zillenials and capacitating them are actually making it because this generation is very good at online marketing which boosts organisations.
There is no doubt that generation Z is on the rise, like the boomers, they are coming at a time of dramatic national change and upheaval of the pandemic.
When you hear about generation Z, it’s always from the perspective that they are “digital natives” and they “grew up with the internet at their fingertips”.
Generation X which is solidly in midlife resilience because it has learnt how to thrive from the previous recessions.
It has resilience coursing through its veins, this generation will play a vital role in helping everyone navigate through and beyond COVID-19.
This generation is good at adapting to change and building systems, processes, and innovations that will exceed expectations and accelerate performance.
While boomers may be less concerned about contracting the virus themselves, they may be worried about the health and wellbeing of their children and grandchildren.
Older adults may be less worried about their work situation, often because they have retired or are getting closer to retirement.
Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that they are not worried about the economic fallout of the pandemic, including how their own children and grandchildren will survive.
Baby boomers are planning to curb their spending. It is crucial to note that while generation X, millennials, and generation Z shoppers have increased their online shopping as a result of COVID-19, very few boomers are doing online shopping.
We can argue about whether younger or older generations will suffer more and in what way, but ultimately, every generation is being called upon to design our new normal.
The power of a collaboration will shift the way the world operates forever.
There is no question that when this pandemic is over, we will emerge with the growth of a new global economy, a new global business community and new global society.