The optimist might look forward to 2015 with the renewed belief that by ‘this time next year we’ll be millionaires’ (to quote Del Boy Trotter). The cynic might wonder why 2015 is going to be any different from 2014, 2013, or indeed any other preceding year. But if you are one of those people who makes, and breaks, the same resolutions every New Year, then as the tide turns towards 2015 it might just be time to think anew.

Why? Because 2015 marks a transition point; a time in which Generation Y is firmly ensconced in the workforce and starting to make their presence felt; which means that Generation Z is hot on their heels. For businesses across the world therefore 2015 is a time of preparation and of planning, of creating new expectations and new ways of working to meet the challenges of a generation, which is unlike any which has gone before.

What makes Generation Z so different? Quite simply, this is the generation which has grown up with fast internet connectivity. This is the multi-tasking, always-on generation who think nothing of playing a game on a console whilst listening to music and holding several conversations simultaneously via differing devices. This is the generation for whom the world is their oyster and interestingly they are not in search of pearls.  

For one of the characteristics of Generation Z is that they are rejecting the material in favour of the meaningful. So in a global world, Generation Z are looking for hyper-localism; and in a sales-oriented world, Generation Z are looking for co-creation. They value meaning over salary and are looking for business to step in and provide the solutions to the world’s problems which have so far eluded the politicians.

This creates an entirely fresh challenge for businesses, in trying to accommodate Generation Z both as customers and as employees. Straight lined, rule-bound hierarchies are not for Generation Z.  They will flourish and will prove to be innovative game-changers for organisations but only if given the right conditions. So the challenge for 2015 for businesses, and in particular for HR departments, is to start to move towards methodologies, which will meet Generation Z expectations. 

Luckily for those organisations which are already moving towards a culture of innovation, the Generation Z solution is already in hand. Adopting a culture of innovation means inclusivity, collaboration and co-creation; all of which meet the Generation Z challenge. Working when required rather than within core hours; interacting equally with suppliers, customers and other departments; being empowered to create solutions; are all part of an innovation landscape as well as a Generation Z model. 

Yes this will mean a change in contracts, in expectations and in organisational structure. And yes this will mean more work for HR in the short term but let’s face it, moving towards a culture of innovation was already going to require that extra work. Adopting innovation methodologies, getting ready to become a Next Generation Organisation is no longer a ‘nice to have,’ rather it is an imperative for organisations which want to stay at the forefront of their business sphere. 

So when you sit down to work out your business New Year resolutions don’t go for ‘same old, same old.’ Look forward to 2015 and beyond, to a landscape which is very different from that which has gone before. Innovation and Generation Z are on their way and it is time to be prepared.