Most of us are familiar with the generation cohorts of Baby Boomers, Generation X (Gen X) and Generation Y (Gen Y – also known as “Millennials”). These generations have all been in the workplace for long enough to have developed behavioural expectations and trends. Just entering the workforce now is the latest cohort of people, Generation Z (Gen Z), born from the mid-1990s onwards. This cohort, while still far from being commonplace in the workplace, will have impacts on the not-for-profit sector.
Gen Z is considered the most connected generation, having grown up with smartphones, instant messaging, and MP3 players; they are nicknamed “digital natives.” Gen Z tends to display similar traits as Gen Y, however they are more pronounced. Combining Gen Y entitlement with second nature technology, Gen Z will be a new force for not-for-profits.
Given that the traits of Gen Z are generally fiercer Gen Y’s, the best way to prepare your organization for Gen Z is to learn Gen Y. So how has Gen Y affected the not-for-profit workplace? And what can not-for-profits do to attract and keep Gen Ys?
How has Gen Y affected the not-for-profit workplace?
Gen Y is notorious for being entitled, which has resulted in some interesting trends in the not-for-profit sector. Gen Y, a generation keenly attracted to entrepreneurial pursuits, has balked at the traditional ladder of not-for-profits. Increasingly, Gen Ys start their own not-for-profits, also known as youth-led initiatives, as they see the bureaucracy and politics of an established organization as a hindrance to their prospective causes.
These youth-led initiatives have led to some interesting developments in the not-for-profit sector as a result of combining start-up company style management with lean, small capitalized Not-for-Profit Organizations (NPOs). Many of these initiatives began or, at the very least, were in their infancy during the global financial crisis of 2007 to 2009, leading to a style of NPO that relied primarily on human capital through leveraging social media instead of traditional monetary capital.
These organizations have become highly dependent on shared platforms to maintain low costs and increase efficiency. Shared platforms give small organizations the opportunity to share administrative resources to both save money and be able to share the burden of top talent. Some also take this further by sharing core staff, space and governance.
This structure has proven to be successful as they allow these entrepreneurial initiatives to tackle complex issues with little money but incredible people power and passion. These leaders have taken a vastly different approach to traditional executive directors who slowly climbed the ladder of NPOs.
Hiring Gen Ys
Traditional NPOs can be well served by hiring Gen Y leaders who will quickly point out inefficiencies and increasing the pace of NPOs while still being entirely passionate about the task at hand. Traditional leaders and executive directors are encouraged to take seriously these suggestions because if Gen Y/Z believes they can do it better, they are the most likely of all generations to take their talents elsewhere.
For more information on the younger generation and their role in the NPO space, please see these articles below: