Unlock the Potential of Every Generation

April 28, 2021 by Meredith Trimble

Unlock the Potential of Every Generation

Never before have government leaders had to engage across so many different generations at the same time. It's a unique position, and not always an easy one.

Jason Dorsey, president of The Center for Generational Kinetics (CGK), challenged Connect attendees to abandon their perceptions of Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z, and to apply an accurate generational context to their work for greater community outcomes.

To set the stage for his session, "Generational Insights and Impacts on Government Today," Dorsey noted key general insights, including the following:

  • Generations are not boxes; they are powerful, predictive clues on where to start to connect with people of different ages.
  • Parenting, technology, and economics are the most important drivers of generational trends.
  • Every one of us has a different natural relationship with technology that is driven by our age, which is invisible until we're interacting with someone who has a different relationship with technology.

From the first-of-its kind generational research with Tyler Technologies regarding generations' interactions with local government, Dorsey noted the following important statistics:

  • 85% of Gen Z felt government can do a better job of engaging citizens.
  • 61% of Gen Z trusts social media more than government, and 51% of Gen Z prefers to receive government information via social media.
  • 34% of Gen Z reports receiving information from local government weekly, (as opposed to Boomers, who only report receiving government information monthly), due to their higher use of real-time digital channels, creating opportunity for a uniquely informed constituency.
  • The top barrier to engagement with government for Gen Z is a frustrating process.
  • 40% of Gen Z indicate clear, easy-to-use technology is the number one way to improve interactions with local government.
  • 76% of Gen Z responded that better technology would go a long way to improving local government.

Throughout his lively presentation, Dorsey also noted the following helpful insights:

  • Gen Z is the fastest growing generation in the workforce.
  • For the first time ever, technology trends are starting with the youngest, and rippling up to the oldest.
  • Social justice is the number one social cause for Gen Z.
  • Gen Z was the most impacted in job loss or job reduction during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The oldest Millennials are now 40, and there are more Millennial managers in the workforce than any other generation.
  • The number one social cause for Millennials is combating climate change.
  • Millennials are not tech savvy, they are tech dependent; they don't know how technology works, they just know they cannot live without it.
  • Gen X is naturally skeptical, in a "trust but verify" way.
  • Gen X is the most loyal generation and the bench of talent in the workforce; however, Gen X is deciding right now if they should finish out their careers where they are, or look for other opportunities.
  • Baby Boomers are the most influential generation in communities, by way of commission membership, elected officials, and wealth ownership.

Understanding what generations are and what shapes them can give governments the "why" behind their normal tracking data, which is the "what." It lends to understanding how all community members approach and think about government interactions, which can meaningfully impact choices around service delivery. "If we can add the ‘why' to the ‘what,'" said Dorsey, "we can change the future."

To that end Dorsey offered these five actions governments can take right now to unlock the potential of every generation:

  1. Pay close attention to the trends Gen Z is driving.
  2. Technology should be seamless at every government interaction; simplicity is key across generations.
  3. Understand social media is not just media, but customer service.
  4. In communications and messaging, show the younger generations the outcome first.
  5. Create a generational snapshot of your community.

"Every single generation is important," Dorsey emphasized. "The better we understand them, even our own, the better we can communicate, lead, and drive innovation and trust."

Explore the links below for more GenResearch resources:

Related Content