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on Leading the Next Generation


Ten Terms That Define Generation Z Today

By: Tim Elmore

Some are now calling Generation Z by a new name. They are known by many as Generation Covid, or Generation C. I have heard others call them, the Coronials. I released a book last fall called The Pandemic Population. They are the young people who will forever be marked as those who came of age during a pandemic. University of Minnesota advisor David Perry wrote, “It’s a generation that will not only be marked by the trauma of the disruption and death, but also by witnessing the total failures of adults to protect them and their world.”

Have you seen the latest data on this young adult generation?

“Employees are feeling the impact of working remotely during the pandemic. Many have been asked to social distance for months now, and those ages 18 to 24 have been especially hard-hit,” according to a new study by The Center for Generational Kinetics (CGK), a global research firm in Austin, Texas. “Generation Z employees are finding remote work more challenging overallmore than one-third said it has hurt their work/life balance and think their employer needs to provide them with better tools for working remotely.”

Generation Z members reported it is most important that their supervisors are well-informed (infection rates and health hazards) while Baby Boomers and Gen Xers said being candid is what they want most from their manager.

Ten Defining Terms for Generation Z

After reviewing the data on members of Generation Z in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and this past year overall, I have curated ten defining characteristics summarized by two-word terms that will help you wrap your arms around their reality. 

1. New Normal

They grew up with terrorism, recession, and other common hardships. Now, they’ll remember the COVID-19 pandemic that impacted their childhood and early career.

2. On Demand

They expect entertainment when they want it and fight boredom with screen time. Not only did time on Zoom increase but also Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and YouTube.

3. Multicultural Mix

They’re a mix of ethnic races, more than any generation in U.S. history. There’s been a 50% increase in this identity since 2000. Half of Generation Z is made up of individuals who would be considered from minority people groups.

4. Instant Access

They have a Google reflex and can find answers at the tap of a screen. No waiting. They ask Google and Siri questions that past youth generations asked their parents. It’s in their hands.

5. Woke Culture

I witnessed family divisions over what determines whether one is racist or truly supports movements such as Black Lives Matter. Generation Z’s decisions are informed by equality for all and woke culture overall.

6. Immediate Feedback

They insist on responses from social media, games, or friends and desire them instantly. Some employers tell me they can’t give feedback to young staff quickly enough.

7. Constant Contact

This isn’t just a tech platform. Gen Z is always connected, with few margins for solitude or silence. Often a screen is “on” 24/7. It’s the first and last item they look at each day.

8. Blended Family 

They offer new definitions for family, identity, and sexuality. “Binary” is a boundary of the past for most. Gen Z is extending the parameters and believes in dozens of genders.

9. Anything Goes 

They grew up at a time when traditional morals are in question. Having felt betrayed by older leaders, they are questioning everything, much like Boomers did in the 1960s.

10. Panic Attack 

They are the most anxious generation in U.S. history. Last fall, one in four young adults considered suicide due to the pandemic. Mental health must be a top priority for leaders.

Because these two-word terms clarify the culture in which Generation Z is growing up, educators (and parents) must focus on the social and emotional development of teens and young adults. It is our job to connect with them, not control them, and guide them into self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship management, as well as responsible decision-making. In addition to those EQ qualities, they’ll have to learn how to effectively leverage their screens for healthy change and growth. Denise Villa, the CEO of CGK said, “Gen Z’s emergence could herald in a new era of hybrid work that is normal to them and for the youngest members of Gen Z, all they’ve ever known.”

What comes next? Following Gen Z is the Alpha Generation, the young children being born today. Following them will be Generation Beta, whose birth years will span all the way to 2039 or so. “If the nomenclature sticks, then afterward will be Generation Gamma and Generation Delta,” social researcher and demographer Mark McCrindle says.

For now, I say: let’s make sure we’re leading Generation Z well as these transitions happen.

Interested in social and emotional curriculum for teens? It’s what they need most now. Check out: Habitudes for Social and Emotional Learning.


  1. Bob Sellen on April 14, 2021 at 8:37 am

    Gen X’ers are the proof positive of the failures of the Post Modern world and the morally bankrupt and malignant dogma they are force fed. It is a sad commentary indeed. These children have only experienced the propaganda emanating from once respected universities without ever being exposed to the enlightened and brilliant products of Western Civilization. This is all being done in the name of Progressivism. The irony being, it is more akin to the Dark Ages! If you don’t believe me, open your eyes to the destructiveness of so called “Wokeism”. I for one will not accept the new order and it is up to us that still believe in free and open discourse, individual freedom and personal responsibility to engage the Gen X’ers. Help open their eyes and minds and break the chains of the feudal overloads of Wokeism and Post Modern bondage.

    • Angie Gamble on April 14, 2021 at 6:17 pm

      Actually, I believe Generation Z is the product of a combination of the failures and shortfalls of the modern world and the current Christian world not being open to out-of-the-box thinking. The modern world had some good foundation in understanding the physical and natural world, but seriously seriously lacked in embracing the spiritual world, emotional intelligence, placing value on the land God has given us, and more. Generation Z sees a need for these things and is more open to them than the previous generation. The fact that the Church in the previous generation has not been open to learning about why people are looking for answers in postmodernism is why we have not been able to help the next generation in greater ways find Biblical, Godly solutions and sort of a Godly postmodernism. Modernism is not fully Christian, neither is postmodernism. Bit God has created the physical world as well as the spiritual world and emotional realm, and if we seek to find and apply His truth in these areas, we will be able to reach the postmodern generation with the Gospel. We need to understand the Biblical flaws of modern Christianity to be able to leave these behind in order to then take on deeper solutions in certain areas that this generation is looking for. One very obvious example of all this would be how many Churches in the modern western world are not open to the moving of the Holy Spirit, but rather think only in terms of solid principles. Rather, God is a God of both of these. But if the Church denies the moving of the Holy Spirit, well, it is something that the next generation is looking for and if they can’t find it in church, they will look for it elsewhere. There are also unfortunately churches who say they are open to the moving of the Holy Spirit, but actually in a self centered way, or who are actually moving in a false Spirit but want to look like they are Godly. Much discernment and staying close to the Lord is needed in walking all of these things out!!

  2. Defet on April 26, 2021 at 6:38 pm

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  3. Stony on April 27, 2021 at 8:34 am

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  4. Generation Z Attitudes – MentorLink on December 3, 2021 at 10:09 am

    […] a post Christian culture, they have grown up without traditional morals to guide them and feel betrayed by leaders. For them, “anything goes” according to […]

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Ten Terms That Define Generation Z Today