Generation Alpha is the generation born between 2011 and 2015. They are the children of millennial parents, which means they are being parented by my friends. Certain parenting techniques get passed down through generations and others don’t. What we do know is that Gen Alpha was born at a time of economic prosperity, yet facing many major political and social issues. These include gun violence, world war, income inequality, student loan debt and climate change. What separates one generation from the next the technological, social, political and cultural changes that are occurring as they are growing up.
Generation Alpha will be the most diverse, educated, conscious and tech savvy generation, yet will suffer the most from mental health issues because of internal and external pressures. As someone who has studied generations for about a decade, I’ve been fascinated by the emergence of Gen Alpha and their long term impact on the workplace.
- They won’t work for a company that doesn’t align to their values. One of the biggest workplace trends is employee activism. Employees are more vocal about their values and the issues they care about than in the past. Employees are putting pressure on companies to create a better society and stand for more than just making a profit. The Business Roundtable of top CEOs from major companies like JP Morgan and AT&T revised their “Purpose of a Corporation” statement to focus on benefiting society, not just making a profit. Amazon, for instance, announced that it will become a better global citizen by agreeing to meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement to go carbon neutral by 2040. Gen Alpha is being raised in a world of major societal issues that need to be solved. They will be an even bigger force as employee activists in the future, pushing companies to have morals and become a powerful force for good in the world.
- They won’t care about privacy at work. There’s been a backlash against employee monitoring in the workplace because people want their privacy and don’t want their employer to track their every move. A Gartner study found that 22% of companies use employee movement data. Gen Alpha will most likely not care about privacy, and just hand over their data, because they are growing up in a very open world, where people are sharing everything about themselves online. This openness to sharing will be both beneficial and harmful to their careers. On one hand, all of the data they hand over to employers may allow for a custom work experience. But, on the other, they may have fewer breaks and more pressure to always be working.
- They will be working for longer. People are living longer than ever before. For those born in 1980, the average global life expectancy is 62 years old, while those born in 2017 is 72 years old. Every year, the life expectancy on average grows slightly, which means Gen Alpha will live the longest compared to any other generation in history. This is if all factors are kept constant, such as climate change, healthcare, war and other things that might alter life expectancy, but can’t be predicted. Since Gen Alpha will live longer, companies will have to have stronger employee benefits to compete for the best talent, including retirement and healthcare programs. They are also more likely to have multiple careers and/or start companies because professional careers will be extended taking into account their longer lives.
- They will embrace diverse workplaces. Gen Z is the more diverse generation, which means that all workplaces will be naturally diverse due to their composition and size. They will be used to seeing women in high power positions, equal pay, and minorities won’t be viewed as minorities because they will have larger numbers. That’s why it’s important that companies embrace and support diversity at work now because in the future, Gen Alpha will choose a company based on the future – and diversity is part of the foundation of a strong innovative and healthy culture.
- They will choose technology over human connection. While Gen Z was the first generation to be completely born digital, Gen Alpha has access to even more advanced technologies at a young age. They have access to more information, resources and people than any other generation. Gen Alpha also interacts with technology in a more human way, communicating with voice technologies like Alexa and Siri, as well as chatbots, like people. While slightly more Gen Z’s choose texting over face-to-face communication, Gen Alpha is digital first. Instead of the baby toys older generations grew up with, Gen Alpha will be used digital devices. These behaviors will impact the workplace because Gen Alpha will collaborate primarily using tech tools instead of phone calls, meetings and even emails. Email exchanges are too slow for Gen Alpha, who expects information instantly.
- They will expect workplaces to be technologically advanced. They will want offices to interact with them, have a customized work experience and use technology to create a seamless day. Gen Alpha will use apps and voice to eliminate work they don’t want to use so that they can focus on the high impact work that adds value. They won’t work at companies that have archaic offices, and for leaders that don’t embrace technology like they do.
- They will need mental health support at work. While Gen Z is currently the most likely to report mental health concerns, Gen Alpha will have even more mental health issues. There’s a link between technology use and mental health issues. Since Gen Alpha is the most plugged in, they will experience the most mental health issues. These stem from FOMO, instant gratification and self comparisons – all of which create stress. Companies will have to create more human-centered workplaces and have mental health programs to help their Gen Alpha employees. We are already seeing companies, like Starbucks, educate managers on mental health matters, promote an employee assistance program and offer money towards mental health benefits.
- They will start their careers earlier. I interviewed high school students back in 2014 and they were already invested in their careers, taking on internships, volunteering activities and even starting businesses. With all the information at Gen Alpha’s fingertips, there’s no question that they will make career decisions even earlier in life than Gen Z did – perhaps in middle school or even elementary school. That’s why companies need to start promoting their employer brand to Gen Alpha’s now because they will be deciding what brands they want to work for, or buy from, earlier in life. That brand loyalty might stay with them for the rest of their lives.
- They will influence their parents. Since Gen Alpha’s are the sons and daughters of Millennials, they will not only adopt a similar mindset, and values, but be able to influence their career and business decisions. If Gen Alpha’s needs aren’t being met in the workplace, that might affect the employment and purchasing decisions of their Millennial parents, who combined have enormous influence on spending, work leadership and even politics.
- They will have the confidence to make change. Part of their upbringing was to see the impact of young people on social media, the workplace, companies and in politics. Younger generations are now outvoting older ones. They will be inspired and motivated to make the same or greater impact from their elders, and technology devices will be the enabler. As we enter a completely digitized work environment, and digital-first communication, Gen Alpha’s will have the upper hand and hopefully use it to create a healthier workplace and a better world.
For more of my predictions on Generation Alpha, you can view my original article written several years ago: