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Understanding the Impact of COVID-19 on the Emerging Generations

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Abstract

Throughout history there have always defining moments for different generations. For the Baby Boomers it was the Moon Landing. For Generation X it was the Stock Market Crash and for the Millennials it was September 11. For the emerging generations – Generation Z (born 1995-2009) and Generation Alpha (born since 2010) – it might have been Donald Trump’s election or Brexit, until COVID-19 took hold of the world in 2020. This global pandemic stopped social gatherings, halted the economy and significantly disrupted the normal rhythms of life. It has had an unprecedented impact on a global scale with world leaders putting measures in place, the likes of which have only been seen in response to the World Wars and the Great Depression. From how we shop, to how we work, engage in community, learn, educate, contribute and lead, COVID-19 and our response is marking a significant societal shift. The impacts of which will be felt even after the virus is kept under control. All of this change is truly unprecedented, especially for the younger generations who have only read about similar responses to a crisis of this scale in history books. While people of all generations have been impacted by COVID-19, it stands to define those who are coming of age during it, with more than four in five adults we surveyed (84%) agreeing that the COVID-19 pandemic will play a significant role in shaping the children of today. Both the virus itself and the response has already influenced the next generation’s sentiment, behaviour and lifestyle. The impacts will continue beyond when it is kept under control and we emerge out of ‘iso’ (isolation) as many Gen Zeds are calling it. This virus and the world’s response to it is set to shape the emerging generations and their future for many years to come. While these uncertain times can cause justified anxiety and concern, it is also in these times that we see community and human connectedness shining brightly. In challenging times, we see the positive and resilient aspects of the human spirit as we come together to respond to a changing world. This is true of the emerging generations as well, as this once in a century crisis stands to shape them and their future. This paper is authored by Mark McCrindle and Ashley Fell, two social researchers who are leading authorities on the emerging generations. We believe this complimentary whitepaper will be invaluable for you in navigating and leading through times of change.
Understanding the impact of COVID-19 on the emerging generations01
MAY 2020
UNDERSTANDING THE
IMPACT OF COVID-19
ON THE EMERGING
GENERATIONS
The Understanding the Impact of COVID-19 on the Emerging Generations report is
produced by:
McCrindle Research Pty Ltd
Suite 105, 29 Solent Circuit
Norwest NSW 2153
AUSTRALIA
mccrindle.com.au
info@mccrindle.com.au
+61 2 8824 3422
Authors: Mark McCrindle and Ashley Fell
Title: Understanding the Impact of COVID-19 on the Emerging Generations
ISBN: 978-0-6486695-1-7
© McCrindle Research Pty Ltd 2020
This book is copyright. Fair dealing for the purpose of private study, research, criticism
or review is permitted under the Copyright Act. In addition the Publisher grants
permission to use images and content from this book, up to a complete chapter, for
commercial and non-commercial purposes provided proper attribution is given such
as ‘Understanding the Impact of COVID-19 on the Emerging Generations’ By Mark
McCrindle and Ashley Fell used by permission McCrindle Research.
A defining moment for the next generation 04
Sentiment in a changing context 05
Who are Gen Y and Z turning to for information? 06
Younger generations helping the vulnerable 06
Almost half of Gen Z say COVID-19 has had an
extreme or substantial impact on their life 07
The opportunities and challenges of social isolation 08
The future of learning 09
The future of work 10
Changing expectations of work 11
Mental health, wellbeing and resilience 12
Leading the emerging generations through a crisis 14
The impacts of COVID-19 on Generation Alpha 15
Methodology 17
CONTENTS
Understanding the impact of COVID-19 on the emerging generations04
A DEFINING MOMENT
FOR THE NEXT
GENERATION
Throughout history there have always defining moments for different
generations. For the Baby Boomers it was the Moon Landing. For Generation X it
was the Stock Market Crash and for the Millennials it was September 11. For the
emerging generations – Generation Z (born 1995-2009) and Generation Alpha
(born since 2010) – it might have been Donald Trump’s election or Brexit, until
COVID-19 took hold of the world in 2020.
This global pandemic stopped social gatherings, halted the economy and
significantly disrupted the normal rhythms of life. It has had an unprecedented
impact on a global scale with world leaders putting measures in place, the likes
of which have only been seen in response to the World Wars and the Great
Depression.
From how we shop, to how we work, engage in community, learn, educate,
contribute and lead, COVID-19 and our response is marking a significant
societal shift. The impacts of which will be felt even after the virus is kept under
control. All of this change is truly unprecedented, especially for the younger
generations who have only read about similar responses to a crisis of this scale
in history books.
While people of all generations have been impacted by COVID-19, it stands to
define those who are coming of age during it, with more than four in five adults
we surveyed (84%) agreeing that the COVID-19 pandemic will play a significant
role in shaping the children of today. Both the virus itself and the response has
already influenced the next generation’s sentiment, behaviour and lifestyle.
The impacts will continue beyond when it is kept under control and we emerge
out of ‘iso’ (isolation) as many Gen Zeds are calling it. This virus and the world’s
response to it is set to shape the emerging generations and their future for
many years to come.
While these uncertain times can cause justified anxiety and concern, it is also
in these times that we see community and human connectedness shining
brightly. In challenging times, we see the positive and resilient aspects of the
human spirit as we come together to respond to a changing world. This is true
of the emerging generations as well, as this once in a century crisis stands to
shape them and their future.
This paper is authored by Mark McCrindle and Ashley Fell, two social
researchers who are leading authorities on the emerging generations. We
believe this complimentary whitepaper will be invaluable for you in navigating
and leading through times of change.
MARK MCCRINDLE
Mark McCrindle is a demographer
and social researcher, best-selling
author, TEDx speaker and Principal of
McCrindle Research. He is the author
of three books on emerging trends and
social change. He coined the label:
Generation Alpha, and is regarded
as an international authority on
Generation Alpha.
ASHLEY FELL
Ashley Fell is a social researcher, TEDx
speaker and Director of Communications
at the internationally recognised
McCrindle. As a trends analyst she
understands the need to communicate
with the emerging generations. She is co-
author of the book Generation Alpha and
regarded as a leading expert and media
commentator on Generation Alpha.
84% agree that the COVID-19
pandemic will play a significant role
in shaping the children of today.
Understanding the impact of COVID-19 on the emerging generations05
SENTIMENT IN
A CHANGING
CONTEXT
The response to COVID-19 has been global in its nature and
changing almost daily. Because of the uncertainty and wide-
spread implications, it is a cause of anxiety and stress for many.
The pace of change on a global scale is causing people to
feel uncertain and anxious. This is even truer for the emerging
generations. Having never lived through an event like this,
Generation Z and Generation Y feel greater uncertainty than
their older counterparts. When asked about the future, one in
two Gen Zeds (51%) feel extremely or very uncertain, compared
to 46% Gen Y, 38% Gen X and 27% Baby Boomers.
While older generations have experienced other life changing
events like world wars, measures we are now experiencing is
something the emerging generations have only ever read about
in history books.
Generation Z are feeling more anxious, frustrated,
overwhelmed, confused, and unprepared about the unfolding
COVID-19 situation than any other generation.
TOP 5 EMOTIONS IN RESPONSE TO
COVID-19 BY GENERATION
Gen Z
18 - 25
Gen Y
26 - 40
Gen X
41 - 55
Boomers
56 - 74
Builders
75+
Anxious (49%) Anxious (45%) Anxious (47%) Anxious (40%) Vulnerable (50%)
Frustrated (44%) Frustrated (40%) Frustrated (37%) Vulnerable (37%) Anxious (47%)
Overwhelmed (35%) Scared (33%) Scared (30%) Hopeful (34%) Hopeful (45%)
Confused (34%) Overwhelmed (28%) Overwhelmed (28%) Frustrated (31%) Resigned (39%)
Unprepared (33%) Confused (24%) Vulnerable (25%) Resigned (28%) Frustrated (26%)
Younger generations are more likely
than their older counterparts to feel
extremely/very uncertain about the
future (51% Gen Z, 46% Gen Y, 38%
Gen X, 27% Baby Boomers, 29%
Builders).
Understanding the impact of COVID-19 on the emerging generations06
WHO ARE GEN Y AND
Z TURNING TO FOR
INFORMATION?
The primary source Generation Z are using for information is social media, with
one in two (49%) saying it is the source they use the most for finding out about
COVID-19 and how to respond.
This is followed by Government websites (38%), news websites (33%),
mainstream broadcasting networks like TV and radio, (33%) and the World
Health Organisation website (29%).
Generation Y are turning first to government websites (37%) followed by
mainstream broadcasting networks like TV and radio (36%), news websites
(36%) and social media (35%).
One of the defining traits of the emerging generations is that they are social.
Compared to other generations, Generation Z are more likely to be using social
media (49%) and discussing with family and friends (28%) than their older
counterparts. While a third of Gen Zeds are turning to mainstream media for
information (33%), it is much less than their older counterparts (36% Gen Y,
54% Gen X and 72% Baby Boomers).
Despite their frequent use of social media, only 8% of Gen Zs and 7% of Gen
Ys trust social media for information about COVID-19. The two most trusted
sources for both generations is the World Health organisation and government/
state government websites.
TWO IN FIVE (40%)
GENERATION Y’S SAY
THEY WOULD BUY
GOODS FOR THOSE
WHO ARE MORE
VULNERABLE.
YOUNGER
GENERATIONS HELPING
THE VULNERABLE
While individuals and households are facing different challenges brought on
by COVID-19, there is a strong sentiment that we are all in this together. As
all generations seek to do their part to keep themselves and the vulnerable
people in their community safe, the emerging generations are no exception.
Those more readily able are also seeking to help the elderly or vulnerable in
the community. Two in five Generation Y’s (40%) say they would buy goods for
those who are more vulnerable.
When it comes to providing help, the emerging generations are the most
likely to say they would donate to charities caring for vulnerable people in the
community (24% Gen Z compared to 21% Gen Y, 24% Gen X and 18% Baby
Boomers).
ALMOST HALF OF GEN Z SAY COVID-19
HAS HAD AN EXTREME OR SUBSTANTIAL
IMPACT ON THEIR LIFE
The impacts of COVID-19 have extended into all areas of life,
including how we travel, work, shop, socialise and engage with
education. While the impacts of COVID-19 and changes in
behaviour are being felt across all generations, the impacts are
being felt by the emerging generations more so than their older
counterparts. Generations Y and Z are the most likely to say
COVID-19 has had an extreme or substantial impact on their
life so far.
Being in their teens and early twenties, this life stage for
Generation Z is normally characterised by education and
study, socialising with friends after school or during breaks
at university. Weekends are normally filled with sport and
shopping, going out or hanging at a friend’s place.
Goals and dreams of Generation Z are to do well in exams,
spend quality time with friends and work to save up for travel
adventures. COVID-19 has changed this. Now, many Generation
Z’s are being schooled from home or going to zoom lectures.
They are cancelling travel plans, social engagements and even
opportunities to see family members not living with them.
The economic impacts of COVID-19 are also being felt by
younger generations seeking to establish themselves in the
workforce. Younger generations are more likely than their older
counterparts to have felt the biggest impact financially (33%
Gen Z and 37% Gen Y compared to 28% Gen X, 20% Baby
Boomers and 12% Builders). The impacts in the job market in
the first few months of COVID-19 have been unparalleled since
the Great Depression. The ABS found that there were 900,000
who had a job in March 2020 that were unemployed just a
month later in April. And twice as many as this, 1.8 million were
stood down or had reduced hours from March to April.1 These
job loss rates are highest for those under 20 with almost one in
five (19%) losing their job. For those aged 20 to 29 more than
one in ten (12%) have lost their job while just 5% of those aged
30 to 69 have lost their job. This means that those under 20 are
almost four times more likely to have lost their job than those
30 and over.2
The generation most likely to feel the impacts of travel
restrictions is Generation Y. Our research showed one in four
(25%) had to cancel an overseas trip due to COVID-19, with a
further 28% saying they had to cancel or postpone a domestic
trip – more so than any other generation. Interestingly, Gen Z
were the most likely to say that COVID-19 will increase the next
generation of children’s desire to travel and explore the world
(82% Gen Z, 76% Gen Y, 57% Gen X cf. 45% Baby Boomers,
46% Builders).
Being in a very social life stage has meant social isolation and
social distancing have changed the behaviour of Generation
Z in significant ways. More than two in five Gen Zeds (42%)
say an event they were going to attend has been cancelled
and 30% say they were unable to visit someone due to self-
quarantine, more so than Gen Y (22%), Gen X (22%), Baby
Boomers (13%) and Builders (14%).
The suspension of sport and entertainment events is also
having a greater impact on the emerging generations. Gen Z
and Gen Y are the most likely to say that the cancellation of
sport/entertainment due to COVID-19 has had an extreme or
substantial impact on them personally (40% Gen Z and 42%
Gen Y compared to 29% Gen X and 15% Baby Boomers).
COVID-19 HAS HAD AN EXTREME OR SUBSTANTIAL IMPACT ON MY LIFE
Gen Z
18 - 25
Gen Y
26 - 40
Gen X
41 - 55
Boomers
56 - 74
Builders
75+
48% 45% 36% 18% 21%
Understanding the impact of COVID-19 on the emerging generations08
THE OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES
OF SOCIAL ISOLATION
While there have been some unique challenges with social
isolation, it has also provided some benefits to Generations
Y and Z, which they hope to keep. The main benefit for the
emerging generations was in prioritising financial saving,
followed by more time with family/household members.
Gen Z were more the most likely to be spending more time on
hobbies and creative pursuits, trying out a new exercise routine
and spending more time praying/spiritual pursuits. Interestingly,
they were also the most likely generation to be enjoying off-
screen activities and spending more time in nature.
On the other hand, Gen Y were the most likely to prioritise
financial saving, spend more time with family/household
members, spend more time cooking and baking, and working
from home.
The biggest difference between these two generations is
working from home. Two in five (40%) Gen Y enjoyed working
from home and want to keep it, compared to 27% Gen Z.
I AM EXPERIENCING IT
AND WANT TO KEEP IT
Gen Z
18 - 25
Gen Y
26 - 40
Gen X
41 - 55
Boomers
56 - 74
Prioritising financial saving 57% 63% 50% 35%
Spending more time with family/
household members 55% 60% 57% 42%
Spending more time on hobbies
and creative pursuits 53% 50% 43% 38%
Spending more time cooking and
baking 52% 60% 44% 38%
Trying out a new exercise routine 51% 41% 33% 22%
Enjoying off-screen activities such
as reading and board games 47% 38% 38% 33%
Spending more time in nature 47% 38% 35% 28%
Enjoying a slower pace of life 46% 50% 56% 45%
Spending more time with pets 42% 38% 43% 33%
Spending more time praying/
spiritual pursuits 33% 29% 25% 21%
Working from home 27% 40% 25% 12%
Understanding the impact of COVID-19 on the emerging generations09
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT AN
INCREASED USE OF ONLINE
LEARNING IN THE FOLLOWING
SECTORS?
Gen Z
18 - 25
Gen Y
26 - 40
Gen X
41 - 55
Boomers
56 - 74
School 81% 85% 87% 88%
Vocational training 83% 90% 90% 93%
University 78% 86% 90% 95%
Workplace 82% 89% 91% 93%
THE FUTURE OF
LEARNING
While new measures have restructured the normal rhythms
of life, the education sector has responded to these and the
impact on how people learn. Overall, people are very positive
about a shift towards online learning. In fact, nine in ten are
positive about an increased use of online learning in vocational
training (90%), university (89%), workplaces (90%) and in
school (86%).
When we asked those who had participated in online
education how they had found the experience, 71% said it was
a positive experience for their household. This is largely due
to the support provided by the school and the opportunity to
spend more time with their child. The greater engagement in
their child’s learning has also allowed families and parents to
develop a greater understanding of their child’s skills, abilities
and challenges with learning.
“The school has been very supportive, and my children
are enjoying the level of online education provided by
their teachers and school.”
“We have more understanding of what they are
learning in school.”
Schooling from home has had its challenges, however, with
many finding it difficult to motivate their children, keep them
focused and juggle their own workload.
Interestingly, the emerging generations are slightly less positive
about online learning than the older generations. Six in ten
students say they find learning from home more difficult and
two thirds find it more productive to study at school rather than
at home.
The majority of young Australians understand that this remote
learning arrangement is necessary now and believe it’s working
fine, however 37% don’t agree it could be something they could
live with on a permanent basis.3 As these generations are in the
formal education life stage and most likely to be participating
in these online learning environments, it is important to take
note of these differences in attitude.
Technology provides great opportunities for online learning,
but it isn’t without challenges. Traditional, in situ learning is
considered to yield greater results among students. While
the online learning environment provides accessibility and
flexibility, it can also be challenging and in some ways less
productive.
Even though online learning has been a blessing for many
during COVID-19 and 52% believe education will be delivered
more online in the future, the sentiment of many students and
teachers is that they are looking forward to going back to
school. While Zoom helped connect us during the pandemic,
many suffered from ‘zoom fatigue’ and missed interacting
with friends and colleagues in person. This highlights that
workplaces and places of education are more than just
somewhere we go to learn – they are key pathways to social
interaction, connection and belonging.
Although the outbreak of COVID-19 has disrupted the lives
of many Australian individuals, businesses and organisations,
Australians have faith in their own resilience and have noticed
positive aspects of the Australian spirit shining through.
% who feel positive
Understanding the impact of COVID-19 on the emerging generations10
THE FUTURE OF WORK
Social distancing measures have driven many people to work from home, with
almost three in five (58%) saying their job allows them to do so. While this
poses great change in the immediate term, it also provides opportunities for
innovation about the future of work.
Overall, more than three in four agree that working from home will become
the new normal (78%) and would stay longer with their employer if they
were offered more remote working or flexible working options (76%). Seven
in ten Gen Z believe working from home will become the new normal (70%)
compared to eight in ten Gen Y (80%).
It is not without challenges though, with 74% of Gen Z and 66% of Gen Y
agreeing that working from home would be challenging with other people
at home. Gen Y also agree that the blurring of work and home has been the
biggest challenge while working from home (44%), only after the challenge of
social isolation (50%).
There is an interesting difference between Generation Z and Generation Y
when it comes to working from home. Generation Z are the most likely to say
that they are less productive when working from home (33%), while Generation
Y are the most excited to be working from home. Gen Z are also more likely
to say that they have experienced working from home and do not want it
to continue (37%), while Gen Y are more likely to say they are experiencing
working from home and they do want it to continue (40%).
These differences can be attributed to the different life stages these
generations are in. Generation Z, those aged 11-25 are only just beginning
their careers, and even when they are working they are looking for multiple
needs met at work – especially social interaction and workplace culture which
can be lost when people work remotely. While Gen Z are the least likely to
think working from home/remote working will become the new normal, Gen Y
and Gen X are the most likely to stay longer if this were offered to them. For
Generation Y, work/life balance and flexibility have always been key workplace
expectations, and even more so today as they are in the key family forming life
stage and juggling multiple and competing priorities.
Remote working has many benefits, but it can also pose challenges for
productivity, social connection and opportunities for collaboration. In a study
we conducted into teleworking we found that 68% of workers agree that the
culture and output is best when everyone is working in one place with a degree
of flexibility for remote working.4
To some, work is simply ‘a job’ but for many
young people, it’s a lifeline to social interaction,
purpose and a place of belonging.
70% GEN Z THINK
WORKING FROM
HOME WILL BECOME
THE NEW NORMAL
COMPARED TO
80% GEN Y.
68% OF WORKERS
AGREE THAT THE
CULTURE AND
OUTPUT IS BEST
WHEN EVERYONE IS
WORKING IN ONE
PLACE WITH A DEGREE
OF FLEXIBILITY FOR
REMOTE WORKING.
Understanding the impact of COVID-19 on the emerging generations11
CHANGING EXPECTATIONS OF WORK
The experience of COVID-19 is having a big impact on where,
when and how work is done. It has thrust many organisations
who might have had reservations about working from home
into adopting this style of working. The impacts of this are
shaping the expectations of the emerging generations in
particular, who have either seen, heard or experienced this
working from home phenomenon during the pandemic.
Flexible working conditions have been developing for some
time. Over the past year, employee comments featuring flexible
working-related terms have increased by 18%, with terms such
as ‘WFH’ and ‘flexible work hours’ rising in prevalence. While
there was growth across all generations, discussion on flexible
working gained the most traction in the younger employee
cohorts. Gen Z employees discussed this topic the most, with a
36% increase in comments on this topic. Millennials weren’t far
behind them with a 34% increase — with growth in this trend
two to three times greater than other generations.5
Even before COVID-19, the emerging generations were looking
to work with more flexibility. Gen Z are the future employees
who find importance in work/ life balance, team focus,
empowerment, support, flexibility, involvement, creativity,
innovation and a global working atmosphere. They are also
characterised by multiple jobs, lifelong learning, multiple
careers and entrepreneurship.
As a result of COVID-19 it is likely we will see a shift in the
expectations of the emerging generations around working
from home practises. According to our research, 86% of adults
believe children of today will expect more flexible working
conditions as a result of COVID-19. More than a ‘want’,
working conditions that enable greater work/life balance will
increasingly be an ‘expectation’ for the emerging generations
who saw this working style widely adopted during COVID-19.
Despite the increase in expectation, we must remember
that the future is likely to be a hybrid of working from home
and more traditional workplaces. It will be characterised by
digital and global connectivity, increasing mobility as well as
visual engagement and social connection (even while social
distancing). Balancing an engaging workplace culture where
employees can work, belong and feel a sense of community
with flexible working practises will be key to engaging the
emerging generations in the future of work.
To remain employable workers will
need to develop a habit of refreshing
existing skills and adding new ones.
Understanding the impact of COVID-19 on the emerging generations12
MENTAL HEALTH,
WELLBEING AND
RESILIENCE
One of the biggest impacts of COVID-19 was on people’s
health – not just their physical health but their mental health,
wellbeing and resilience.
When asked about the biggest impacts of social isolation,
Generation Z were most likely to say that boredom (51%), less
physical activity (47%) and increased feelings of loneliness
(41%) were impacting them the most, and significantly more so
than any other generation. They are also the most likely to see
the negative impacts of screen time in their lives (31% Gen Z
compared to 25% Gen Y, 14% Gen X and 17% Baby Boomers).
While not as physically vulnerable as their older counterparts,
the emerging generations were also more likely to say they
experienced increased anxiety and stress. Almost half (49%)
of Gen Z said they felt anxious about the unfolding COVID-19
situation, with one in four (25%) saying the biggest negative
impact of COVID-19 has been on their mental health (more so
than any other generation).
The fact that these generations have never lived through
anything like this before is a reason for their increased anxiety.
Another is that they were a ‘more anxious’ generation even
before COVID-19. Currently, around one in four young people
aged 15 to 19 years meet the criteria for having a probable
serious mental illness.
Of concern, there has been a significant increase in the
proportion of young people meeting this criteria; data shows
that it increased by more than 20% in the most recent five-year
period. According to global research, mental illness contributes
to 45% of the global burden of disease among those aged 10
to 24 years.6 This is also reflected in a study in America. The
American Psychological Association’s annual Stress in America
report concluded in 2019 that Generation Z adults indicated the
highest average stress level of any demographic.7
Younger generations are also more likley than their older
counterparts to believe the COVID-19 experience will have a
negative impact on the next generation of children’s mental
health (88% Gen Z and 71% Gen Y, compared to 69% Gen X,
50% Baby Boomers and 48% Builders).
Keeping this in mind as we lead, communicate, engage and
educate the next generation will be key to helping them thrive
and flourish during COVID-19 and into the future.
WHICH AREA OF LIFE HAVE YOU FELT
THE BIGGEST NEGATIVE IMPACT?
Gen Z
18 - 25
Gen Y
26 - 40
Gen X
41 - 55
Boomers
56 - 74
Builders
75+
Social (33%) Financial (37%) Social (38%) Social (58%) Social (70%)
Financial (33%) Social (27%) Financial (28%) Financial (20%) Physical (14%)
Mental (25%) Mental (22%) Mental (17%) Physical (11%) Financial (12%)
Physical (10%) Physical (14%) Physical (16%) Mental (11%) Mental (4%)
Understanding the impact of COVID-19 on the emerging generations13
RESILIENCE
BY GENERATION
Gen Z
18 - 25
Gen Y
26 - 40
Gen X
41 - 55
Boomers
56 - 74
Builders
75+
Financially resilient 31% 37% 30% 26% 26%
Physically resilient 39% 43% 43% 39% 25%
Emotionally resilient 44% 42% 50% 56% 49%
During the pandemic, many people’s resilience – the capacity to recover from
difficulty – was tested. When it came to financial resilience, Generation Y said
they were more financially resilient than other Generations. The most physically
resilient generations were Generations Y and X. When it came to emotional
resilience, Generation Z and Y were the least emotionally resilient.
When it comes to examples of resilience, Generation Z were most likely to
have seen humour shine through (46%). This has been aided by technology
and social media platforms like Tik Tok, symbolising a distinct generational
response to a global pandemic that is characteristically digital, social, global
and visual. From Instagram to Tik Tok or Zoom, these digital integrators are
forging new ways of connecting to their peers during this period of social
distancing and isolation.
Generation Z have also seen resilience and creative ways of problem solving
during the pandemic (31%). For Generation Y, they were most likely to have
seen humour (36%) and people coming together in times of need (29%).
Younger generations were more likely than older generations to say they are
extremely/very financially and physically resilient. Older generations, however,
were more likely to say they are emotionally resilient than the younger
generations.
Younger generations are more likely than
older generations to say they are extremely/
very financially and physically resilient. Older
generations, however, are more likely to say they
are emotionally resilient.
Extremely/very resilient
Understanding the impact of COVID-19 on the emerging generations14
LEADING THE
EMERGING
GENERATIONS
THROUGH A CRISIS
The emerging generations are the most uncertain about the future, having
never lived through a crisis of this scale or magnitude before. Therefore, it is
important for parents and leaders of the emerging generations to provide
context, reassurance and leadership during this crisis. According to our
research, the most important qualities of a leader during a crisis are:
Be completely open and honest
with sharing information
Be prepared to make the
tough calls, make them
early and back themselves
Lead with strength and
communicate confidence
Give voice to the experts and
follow their lead and advice
Show compassion
and empathy
50%
50%
36%
33%
27%
This type of leadership is especially important in the areas the emerging
generations are most likely to dwell – in a home, work and education context.
COVID-19 is significantly impacting Generation Z today and into the future,
for they are our students of today and workforce of tomorrow. In 2020,
Generation Z (those born between 1995 and 2009) are aged between 11 and 25
and are moving through some of their key education years, while Generation
Y comprise a third of the workforce. Ensuring that clear and confident
communication is maintained will help these generations to understand the
changes around them and be best positioned to respond in the future.
Another way we can lead the next generation is to be aware of the fact they
feel less emotionally resilient than older generations. In times of uncertainty
and change, it is important for leaders to be checking in with people regularly
about their wellbeing. This is even truer for the emerging generations who have
indicated they feel less emotionally resilient and more uncertain about the
unfolding COVID-19 situation than their older counterparts.
The key characteristic of
a leader is foresight. The
reason they can lead is that
they see things not just as
they are, but as they will be.
Understanding the impact of COVID-19 on the emerging generations15
THE IMPACTS OF COVID-19
ON GENERATION ALPHA
There is a generation that comprises more than one in seven
people, who are influencing the purchasing power of their
household and are key to the future, yet few people have
heard of them. Within the next four years they will outnumber
the Baby Boomers, and many of them will live to see the 22nd
century.
We’re talking about Generation Alpha, the current generation
of children who began being born in the year 2010. They are
the children of the Millennials, and often the younger siblings
of Generation Z. We gave them the name Generation Alpha
(of the Greek Alphabet) because, being born entirely in the
21st Century, they are not a return to the old but the start of
something new.
More than four in five adults (84%) believe COVID-19 will play
a significant role in shaping the children of today. While it will
be some time before we know the full extent of how COVID-19
will impact and shape this generation, the oldest of them turn
10 in 2020, so many of them will remember aspects of this
global crisis. Many watched mum or dad work from the kitchen
bench while keeping an eye on them as they learnt from a
virtual classroom. They might not know why we need to stay 1.5
metres away from other people, but they know that we should.
The fact that they can’t go to the park or to visit grandma or
grandpa is not lost on them.
When we asked people what they believe the biggest impact of
COVID-19 will be on the next generation, the results centred on
integration of technology into their lives, expectations around
working conditions and the online delivery of education.
TO WHAT EXTENT DO YOU AGREE OR DISAGREE WITH THE FOLLOWING STATEMENTS
ABOUT THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON THE CHILDREN OF TODAY?
% of Australians who agree
This experience will cause technology and screens
to become more integrated in their lives
Children of today will expect more
flexible working conditions
The COVID-19 pandemic will play a significant
role in shaping the children of today
Education will be delivered
online more in the future
This experience will mean children
of today are more resilient
Children of today will feel more reserved
about face-to-face interaction
This experience will have a negative
impact on their mental health
Children of today will have a stronger desire to travel
and explore the world because of the current limitations
90%
86%
84%
82%
78%
69%
65%
62%
Understanding the impact of COVID-19 on the emerging generations16
EDUCATION
COVID-19 has enhanced the intersection of technology and
learning in some ways, but also shown the importance of
face-to-face and tactile learning. Like many other sectors,
the education sector has had to adapt in response to social
distancing restrictions. While it posed challenges, 71% of
parents who kept children home said it was a mostly positive
experience, and 82% of adults generally agree that education
will be deliver online more in the future.
Nonetheless, schools have been missed – not just by busy
parents having to juggle their own work with monitoring their
child’s learning, but because schools are key to community
(within the school) as well as being a place of connection within
communities.
For Generation Alpha, a generation that was already impacted
and shaped by technology, COVID-19 has further entrenched
digital into their lives, while also highlighting the importance of
the tactile. Generation Alpha will be used to using Zoom and
engaging in a virtual world as a result of COVID-19. We may
also see them pushing to engage with and use technology in
more creative ways as a result.
FAMILY
Immediate family time has been enhanced with social isolation
restricting people to stay at home. This is having a big impact
on the next generation of children. Parents who are used to
travelling have been grounded and working from home has
provided new flexible ways of structuring time. This has been
one of the most positive experiences of COVID-19, with 52%
indicating spending more time with family/household members
has been a positive experience and want this to continue.
This unique family time is one positive to have come out of
COVID-19, and may mark a shift in some families priorities and
time allocation into the future.
FRIENDSHIP
Social interaction and friendships are very significant to
Generation Alpha as they are in their key socialising years
where behaviours are learnt subconsciously. While Zoom
and virtual dinner parties have enabled much needed
social interaction, in many ways it cannot replace the face
to face interaction that is crucial to child development and
socialisation. Remembering this and finding new and creative
ways of participating and engaging in community will be key to
their development, even while from a distance.
RESILIENCE
“Most young kids will remember how their family home
felt during Coronavirus panic more than anything
specific about the virus. Our kids are watching us and
learning how to respond to stress and uncertainty.
Let’s wire our kids for resilience, not panic."
– BrainPower Neurodevelopment Centre LLC
While there have been some unique challenges for Generation
Alpha during COVID-19, it has also exposed them to witnessing
different elements of resilience and responding to challenging
times in positive ways. More than three in four adults (78%)
agree that this experience will mean children of today are
more resilient. It is a key role of parents, leaders and teachers
to teach and model positive and resilient behaviours where
possible. It is also important to ensure that, even amidst change
and uncertainty, stable environments are created for the next
generation as much as possible to enable them to thrive now
and into the future.
HERE ARE SOME AREAS AND WAYS
COVID-19 IS IMPACTING GENERATION
ALPHA NOW AND INTO THE FUTURE.
The pace of change has never been this
fast and it will never be this slow again.
– Justin Trudeau, World Economic Forum
Understanding the impact of COVID-19 on the emerging generations17
METHODOLOGY
COVID-19 SURVEY 1
This research was conducted by McCrindle in conjunction
with our panel partner Cint. The report is based on an online
survey deployed to a nationally representative sample of 1,015
Australians. Data was collected between 19 and 23 March 2020.
COVID-19 SURVEY 2
This research was conducted by McCrindle in conjunction
with our panel partner Cint. The report is based on an online
survey deployed to a nationally representative sample of 1,004
Australians. Data was collected between 08 and 13 May 2020.
ABOUT MCCRINDLE
McCrindle delivers a clearer picture to inform and guide
strategic decision making.
As a social research agency, McCrindle uses an evidence-
based approach to know the times. From there we
communicate the trends to maximise impact for sustainable
success.
We do this through online surveys, focus groups and in-depth
interviews. The insights are then presented through crafted
visualisation, engaging keynote presentations and advisory
workshops.
If your organisation is interested in understanding the people,
places or products surrounding you, we would be excited to
work together!
mccrindle.com.au
ABOUT CINT
Cint is the technology backbone of the world’s most
successful insights companies. The Cint platform automates
sample fieldwork and operations so that companies can
gather insights faster, more cost-effectively and at scale. Cint
also has the world’s largest sample exchange platform that
connects sample buyers to 100+ million of panellists across
the world.
cint.com
REFERENCES
1. Australian Bureau of Statistics April 2020 Labour Force, Australia
2. Australian Bureau of Statistics 2020, Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey, cat. no. 4940.0, ABS, Canberra
3. Youth Insight powered by Student Edge, COVID-19 Youth understanding and sentiment, 2020
4. McCrindle Teleworking Study, 2013
5. Heartbeat by Peakon, The Employee Expectations Report 2020
6. Black Dog Institute, Youth mental health report, Youth Survey 2012-16
7. American Psychological Association, Stress in America Survey 2019
Phone +61 2 8824 3422
Email info@mccrindle.com.au
Address Suite 105, 29 Solent Circuit
Norwest, NSW 2153
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... A study conducted by McCrindle and Fell (2020) reveals that while all generations have been impacted, Gen Z has reported the most uncertainty and highest percentage of negative responses. The top five emotions in response to COVID-19 expressed by Gen Z indicate they are: anxious (49%); frustrated (44%); overwhelmed (35%); confused (34%); and, unprepared (33%). ...
Chapter
Generational theory is an engaging way to consider a birth range of people with shared experiences that have shaped their collective values and beliefs. The COVID-generation, comprised of Generation Z and the current Alpha birth generation, share the experience of the global pandemic during their impressionable, formative years. As a generation they will shape and carry into the future the collective memory of the COVID-19 generation. This chapter narrows the lens to Gen Z as the youngest complete birth range generation aged 10–24 at the time the pandemic was declared. The character traits of Gen Z are explored and a systematic quantitative literature review conducted to consider what contemporary research reveals about Generation Z’s tourist/tourism behaviours, especially those related to health, safety and wellbeing, and how has this been impacted by the pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating and widespread effect on the travel industry and the recovery, and we share insights into the lived experiences of Gen Zs from around the world, who tell their stories and provide thoughts about their future as travellers. These unmediated stories located in the chapter reveal that Gen Z are indeed keen to engage in future travel and will bring their unique generational character traits to shape the reconstitution of the travel industry, which will in turn feature in the collective memory of this generation.
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