Gen Z vs. Gen Y: What’s the Difference?

The past decade has had significant focus on the impact Gen Y is having on our workplaces. Since different generations are raised with different values, it’s not surprising that we experience shifts in our workplace values as well. Simple value tensions like respecting authority (Baby Boomers) versus a distrust of hierarchy (Gen Y, aka Millennials) will cause workplace conflict. Overall, this increase in generational value preferences has been a healthy movement as it has given us the opportunity to understand our differences. However, the focus on Gen Y is shifting as Gen Z are now entering the workplace (generational age norms are provided below).

Barna Research has released data which helps us understand Gen Z (as well as their predecessors). While Gen Z may share some common ground with Millennials, we would be mistaken to treat them the same. Some of Barna’s more notable Gen Z conclusions are as follows:

  • A key characteristic of Gen Z is that their expectations are largely shaped around themes of academic and career success — more so than any other generation.
  • However, nearly 40% want to spend their 20’s enjoying life before they take on the responsibilities of being an adult—significantly higher than the 25% of Millennials who said this.
  • Six out of the top 10 reasons teens look up to their role model are related to career or financial success.
  • Personal achievement, whether educational or professional (43%), and hobbies and pastimes (42%) are the things most central to Gen Z’s identity. Their responses stand out against those of their elders: Twice as many teens as Boomers strongly agree that these factors are important to their sense of self (22% and 24% in Boomers).

The charts below provide many other helpful insights. However, I encourage you to remember the principle behind this data. We are all created uniquely and for different purposes. The rise of generational awareness is simply a reflection of our desire to be treated as the unique people we are. In fact, you and I personify a microcosm of this same principle. This truth requires you to do more than just manage people. Identifying and maximizing the potential of each employee is the work of a gifted leader!


GEN Z were born 1999 to 2015 (only teens 13 to 18 are in this study) | MILLENNIALS were born 1984 to 1998     GEN X were born 1965 to 1983 | BOOMERS were born 1946 to 1964 | ELDERS were born before 1946

Dr. Jeff Suderman is a futurist, consultant, and professor who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Contact him today to find out how he can help enhance your personal and organizational effectiveness –

Source: Barna Research

Photo Credit –





The Future of Sports – 19 Trends

Today’s blog provides several fascinating insights about the future of sports developed by the Shaping Tomorrow organization. You will find that these upcoming changes are rooted in several key drivers which include shifting demographics (Gen Y), technology invading markets which are not traditionally linked to tech (like sports) as well significant shifts in the economic priority of consumers. So, without further adieu, here they are.

  1. Broadcasts of virtual reality (VR) sports could become the norm.
  2. An estimated 27% of U.S public high schools will not be offering any sports programs by 2020.
  3. E-skin displays could become a direct competition or a replacement for sport watches.
  4. eSports revenues could surpass $1 billion as early as 2018. One Activision exec says it’s a potential Olympic sport.
  5. In the U.S there are more eSports fans than baseball fans and it’s predicted it will exceed any other sport in US.
  6. Millennials are projected to spend about half what all adults in the US and Canada spend ($50) on live sporting events.
  7. Adding sensors to sports equipment will continue to revolutionize the way athletes train and compete.
  8. Body sensor shipments are expected to increase from 2.7 million in 2015 to 68.0 million units annually by 2021.
  9. Parents will increasingly want sports equipment that helps protect their children from injury.
  10. Whoop is the first scientifically-grounded system designed for continuous wear that provides athletes with data to reduce injuries and predict peak performance.
  11. The activewear industry is expected to add $83 billion in sales globally by 2020.
  12. Demand will grow for products and services that help prevent or rehabilitate injuries in growing bodies.
  13. Sports-science insiders have predicted the imminent arrival of gene doping in sports.
  14. Annual smart clothing shipments will grow from 968,000 units in 2015 to 24.8 million units in 2021.
  15. By 2020, global shipments of VR headsets are expected to hit 64.8 million per year.
  16. A new app developed by Scottish start-up Sansible Wearables will let players and coaches track the intensity of a collision and the effect it has on the body.
  17. Similarly, a mouthguard with motion sensors can analyse concussion risks after a player contact.
  18. Rugby could find itself alongside American football as a sport fast losing support among a new generation of parents and young families.
  19. Intelligent robots will publish sports commentaries.

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Jeff Suderman is a futurist, consultant, and professor who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman Email:

Source: Shaping Tomorrow
Photo Credit: Bob Smith


[Infographic] Gen Z Just Graduated from College! So What Are They Like?

Over the past year two of my students have taught me a lot as they have undertaken thesis work related to generational differences in the workplace. A few of my blogs have addressed this theme in recent months (The Millennial Way and Defining Workplace Generations). Today I am continuing this topic by discussing a generation that has not received as much press as it should. But Gen Z is about to get a lot of attention!

You see, we have just entered the zone where Gen Z’s are graduating from college. Most demographers define this generation as those born between 1995 and 2010 which means that the first wave of this cohort just graduated. You can expect to see many of their applications and resumes in the months ahead. And as we have learned with previous generations, they will bring some changes!

The content below is courtesy of Richard Madison, a marketer at the Brighton School of Business (U.K). It provides some very practical insights about Gen Z. I trust it will help your organization prepare for yet another wave of unique expectations in our increasingly multigenerational work environments.



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Jeff Suderman is a futurist, consultant, Gen X’er and professor who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman Email:

Source: Brighton School of Business and Management

The Millennial Way: Beyond Live-to-Work or Work-to-Live

In the classic comedy movie What About Bob, Bill Murray tells his therapist, “There are two kinds of people in the world: those who love Neil Diamond and those who don’t”.

Many of us use this same ‘either/or’ principle to assess the behaviors or others. We label others as creative or concrete thinkers. People like the big picture or are detail oriented. They are individualistic or they are group-oriented. They are wired as introverts or extroverts.

However, these tidy boxes don’t always work and sometimes events come along which shake our thinking. For example, the term ‘ambiverts‘ has recently emerged to create a third category of people who are a mix of introvert/extrovert. As I work with clients and speak to them about their challenges, I often hear the behaviors and expectations of Millennials are breaking many of the ‘either/or’ categories that we like to use.

More specifically, many people are asking me what motivates Millennials in their work. In the past, my ‘either/or’ thinking has answered this question in two ways;

  1. People work-to-live. Work is just something they do and is not highly important. It means that they punch-out at 5:00!
  2. People live-to-work. Those who are oriented this way don’t watch the clock because they are driven to perform. Work is their life.

However, I don’t think Millennials fit into these two categories as cleanly as previous generations have. So I tried to think of some alternate Millennial options….and I didn’t come up with anything! So instead, I have asked three qualified people to answer the following question:

If employees from previous generations tended to fall into these categories – they worked to live or they lived to work – what new category does the majority of Millennials fall into?

Here are their replies:

Paul Sohn: Millennials work to make a difference. An overwhelming reason why Millennials work is simply because they seek to make a difference. The fact that their creative talents can be harnessed for a higher purpose energizes Millennials to wake up every day, knowing that their work matters and that they can make a dent in the universe. The fastest way to disengage a Millennial is simply give them a routine and transaction work that barely uses their talents and passions. On the other hand, the fastest way to engage a Millennial is to paint a lofty picture of a compelling vision and get them to be an integral part of it.

Matt NixonMillennials live to do worthwhile work. We have grown up watching our parents commute to a job they did not enjoy or feel passionate about. We understand that we need to make money, but we are willing to take a lower salary or work more hours if it is for a cause we believe in. While job security and financial peace were our parents’ motives for working (and those are great motives), we are concerned with making the world a better place and will move from job to job until we see this happen.

Jane BoyleLife First, Salary Optional. Millennials do not like to be boxed into any category or much less stereotyped–be it at work or home.  They are loyal to their employer so long as the job suits their needs and ties in with their requirement for flexibility and work-life balance. They want the freedom to focus on meaningful relationships and experiences.  Flexibility means being able to work in a way that suits them best—be it at home, on the beach, or in the coffee shop on the corner.  They prefer not be constrained by when they work (e.g. skipping the traditional 9 to 5 shift in order to break a 40-hour week into segments at different times of the day).  Having greater autonomy over their work schedule (that rewards results over hours worked), generates a diverse and engaging environment, and creates a stimulating atmosphere that offers work-life balance is the key to a Millennial’s heart.

Do these insights align with yours? If not, what would you add?


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Jeff Suderman is a futurist, consultant, Gen X’er and professor who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman Email:

With thanks to my guest contributors!

Matt Nixon is a Millennial, Enrollment Professional, MA student and husband. He lives and works in Costa Mesa, CA.

Paul Sohn is a Millennial, author, blogger and MA student. He lives and consults from his base in San Diego, CA.

Jane Boyle is an X’er, recently minted MA graduate and wife who lives in Virginia. She recently completed her thesis on creating organizational opportunities for Millennials.

Defining Workplace Generations: Infographic

A common theme in my work relates to the complexities of leading an inter-generational workforce. We use different terms to describe these collections of unique mindsets and values – the younger generation, Gen Y, Gen X and Boomers to name a few. However, sometimes we sling around these terms without fully understanding who they really apply to. Are Gen Y and Millennials synonyms? What do we call those born before Baby Boomers?

A recent article in The Atlantic revealed that much of the confusion about generations is merited because there aren’t definitive terms. Since generations are simply artificial monikers that we use to describe a similar group of people, there is no legal or official version of what years these so-called generations span (with the exception of Baby Boomers – they are the only official generational category used by the US Census Bureau – source: Bump). In fact, most of the definitions we use find their origins in popular media.

However, I have co-created the following chart as a means to provide some common language around this issue. So here are seven generations and their approximate time spans.

Generations with Suderman

While a lot of talk is still focused on Gen Y and Gen Z, I am personally very interested in the generation which will follow them. “Futurist, demographer, and TEDx speaker Mark McCrindle is leading the campaign to call anyone born after 2010 a part of Generation Alpha. According to him, 2.5 million Alphas are born around the globe every week” (Strebenz). Everyone born since 2010 falls into the Alpha category (as will anyone born until 2030).

Effective organizations learn to harness the collective strengths of all the generations they have in their workforce! Contact me if you would like to discuss how to lead lead an increasingly inter-generational workforce!

In an upcoming post I will discuss more details about how different generations impact our workplace. Subscribe to my blog to stay in the loop!

Head ShotJeff Suderman is a futurist, professor, consultant and pracademic who works in the field of organizational development. He works with clients to improve leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational Future-Readiness (and he loves great customer service!). He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman. Email:


Bump, Philip (March 25, 2014). Here Is When Each Generation Begins and Ends, According to Facts. The Atlantic on-line.

McCrindle, Mark (March 22, 2016). Gen Z & Gen Alpha Infographic. The McCrindle Blog on-line.

Strebenz, Christina (Dec. 5, 2015). Here’s who comes after Generation Z — and they’ll be the most transformative age group ever. Business Insider on-line.