Once the largest generation in America, baby boomers had a dramatic impact on the domestic economy, raising home ownership, consumer spending and employment rates to unprecedented heights. As the Millennial generation is now the largest living generation in America (#sorrynotsorry). As Millennials transition into leadership roles in manufacturing and distribution centers nationwide their number one challenge will be attracting and hiring Gen Z workers to the warehouse.
Gen Z (aka iGen, zoomers or digital natives) is starting to enter the workforce (the oldest are in their mid 20's) and while we are just starting to learn about them, they are poised to be the most racially and ethnically diverse, well educated generation yet. While Millennials are known for quickly adopting new technology, Gen Z does not know a world without it - hence their generational name.
|Generation||Born||Ages (as of 2023)|
|Generation Alpha||2011 -||< 10|
|Gen Z||1997 - 2012||26 - 11|
|Millennials||1981 - 1996||42 - 27|
|Gen X||1965 - 1980||58 - 43|
|Baby Boomers||1955 - 1964||59 - 68|
Similar to Millennials, Gen Z wants to work for flexible, attractive and innovative companies – they’re not thinking supply chain, distribution centers, manufacturing, warehouses or materials handling – they're thinking tech and medical - exciting industries that make the world a better place. It's going to be up to the Millennial generation to educate Gen Z (and Generation Alpha) on the modern warehouse.
Not Your 2000's Warehouse
Warehouses are often imagined as being dark and dusty; manufacturing as boring, repetitive and outdated. But, none of this is true in today’s modern distribution centers and manufacturing facilities. It's up to the Millennials to change the narrative.
Gen Z is drawn to jobs that allow them to use their inherent comfort, familiarity and adeptness with technology. After all, they don't know a world without the internet - they grew up with technology and a lot of it! To attract Gen Z to the warehouse your going to have to turn your dark and dusty warehouse into an pristine, shiny, automated facility.
Gamification of Work
As a generation known for using video games to form social connection, 21% of Gen Z adults say gaming is their favorite activity. Automated systems with computerized or touchscreen human-machine interfaces (HMIs) can help attract Gen Z to the warehouse.
Automated picking supports their desire for qualitative, ongoing feedback while getting orders out the door on time. That’s because such systems deliver information about required tasks and their rate of completion through gamificiation – as the on-board HMI can be programmed to display picking rates at that machine. When several of these automation solutions are arranged in a pod, a separate monitor can display performance rates by each picker in the zone or within the facility, so operators know how their productivity compares to that of their colleagues.
Another desire of Gen Z, is flexibility. A standard 8 am - 5 pm day with two vacation weeks a year just doesn't cut it anymore. Automation can optimize an existing labor force, increasing productivity from 200% to 600%. Systems like Horizontal Carousel Modules, Vertical Carousel Modules, Vertical Lift Modules and Vertical Buffer Modules support flexible staffing measures by enabling just one worker to handle the picking assignments of multiple operators. With automation in place, a company can comfortably allow all its employees—not just Gen X —greater flexibility in choosing when they want to start and finish work, or to implement variable shift schedules that give employees more time off.
To encourage Gen Z to take a closer look at the warehouse - use automation to modernize your warehouses and distribution centers, creating fast paced work environment in a high tech space.