We live in an age where everything imaginable runs on software programs and digital platforms. Everything from social media, gaming, stock trade, telecommunications, to banking. You would be hard-pressed to find a company that does not use digital software in some shape or form. Digital platforms now serve as a backbone for operations.
A startling new trend is youth, as individuals, undertaking employee theft. There is an increase in employee theft cases involving perpetrators age 25 and under. Why is this? To fully understand we need to take a look at previous generations:
Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) were known to be competitive, straightforward workaholics. They believed in working hard for their money and valued the idea of seniority. These individuals did not see the online world in their upbringing, but their generation created the building blocks fundamental to future technological advancements for the online world we know today.
Generation X (born 1965-1980) generation was shaped by many things, but one was the dot-com boom. They saw the first big strive forward in computer technology. Invented in 1968, the Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM) had a hard technological infrastructure, specifically the various components that make up the computer’s memory chip (some form of DRAM still happily sits in the heart of all of your favorite devices such as gaming consoles, phones, computers, digital cameras, Roku sticks, etc.). At that time, this was seen by investors as an opportunity that would later prove to be a profitable one. Talk amongst investors caused a quick pour of money into online start-up companies. It created a stock market phenomenon in the late 1990’s that caused a massive growth in the use of the internet. This generation was the first to get a very small taste of what online life could be.
Generation Y, better known as Millennials to some, (born 1981-2000) were raised right in the middle of the growing internet craze. Their parents and siblings were either Baby Boomers or Gen X which gave them a combination of competitiveness and internet savvy. These individuals grew up taking computer classes in school and talking through instant messenger as their regular form of communication. Cell phones slowly became a staple in households replacing wall mounted home phones. The first mass-produced personal computer came out in 1981 and by 2020 sixty percent of US households owned at least one computer. These individuals may not be as dependent on the digital world as the next generation, but they are the largest age group of coders and creators behind our online world.
Generation Z (born 2001-2020) is a fully digitalized generation. They never knew a time without computers or cell phones tethered to the internet. These individuals saw the labor and advancements from the previous generation and have welcomed it with open arms. While they did not see the dawn of the internet world, they thrive on it.
Why is all of this important? Because while employee theft used to be predominately an older crowd, generation Gen Y and Gen Z are quickly becoming the youth of employee theft. We are seeing more and more employee theft committed by individuals 30 years old and younger.
This can be a concern when you pair that with the current work force demographics. Gen Y currently dominates by maintaining more than a third of the total workforce in the U.S., according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and are projected to claim the title of largest gain for a single age group between now and 2029.
While 50-60+ year-olds used to dominate the charts, we are seeing more and more shared percentage of employee theft throughout the younger age groups. See below for the top perpetrators in their respective years, and by what percentage they took the lead.
What we are seeing with the theft committed by these two generations is very thorough, deeply seeded, and easily hidden within the digital world they thrive in.
See our next series of how the youth are undertaking employee theft.