Joe Nellis, professor of global economy at Cranfield School of Management, explains the impact on businesses of Generation Alpha: the wealthiest, most educated and dynamic cohort of workers yet.
Born to digital technology like it’s a fifth element of nature, mediating everyday roles and demands via a digital device will be the norm for Alphas, the generation born since 2011. Their psychological and physical relationships with the world will be based on the assumption that interactions will be simple, easy and instant.
Alphas will stay in education for longer, take on adult responsibilities and join the workforce later, have children later and many more will become centenarians. As there will be fewer Alphas, they will also be financially better off per capita, in contrast with Generations Y and Z – the first cohorts to be less well off than their parents.
The business world will be confronted with the most demanding customers and employees in history, expecting speed, responsiveness and customisation as standard. Wanting more than mass-produced, off-the-shelf products, Alphas will demand personalised services and care less about product ownership. They won’t pay for a car, just mobility.
It will be difficult to win Alpha consumers' attention and loyalty, as they will be more likely to ditch established brands on news of a poor product, service or ethical practice.
At work, Alpha employees will be tougher to keep motivated and challenged, preferring individual projects with their own rewards. They’ll move in and out of employment, self-employment and periods of learning and pure leisure.
Dealing with complexity
But Alphas will be better able to deal with complexity, processing larger amounts of data and translating it into what’s simple and essential. They’ll train as specialists, going far deeper into particular disciplines. Studying to master’s degree level is likely to become standard, with students not being so quick to enter full-time employment.
Alphas will be able to benefit from the world created by previous generations, but the psychological impact of their digital lives is yet to be fully understood. Closer attention will be paid to mental health and wellbeing, with education playing a crucial role in individuals learning to be adaptable, resilient and socially aware.
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