The Mysteries of Gen Z

How this generation will change the workplace

Millennials currently make up 30% of the workforce (New York Times). As baby boomers retire by the thousands, millennials are becoming leaders in every industry. However, just when many employers have figured out how to woo and keep millennials in the workplace, a whole new generation is graduating from high school and college: Generation Z. Members of this generation are very different from their predecessors, and in some surprising ways.



Gen Z vs Millennials: What’s the difference?

Millennials were born between the 1980s and 2000s, and there are important differences between them and members of Gen Z, who were born in a time range loosely defined between 1996 and 2010 (New York Times). The ranges overlap a bit depending on who’s defining them, but it’s clear the first Gen Z arrivals are now finishing college and looking for jobs, potentially at the companies where millennials are now hiring managers.

One of the main differentiators between millennials and Gen Z is the latter’s lack of confidence in formal education and its immense costs (Capture Higher Ed). They would rather consume information via an online class or YouTube video than a college seminar, so fewer of them are heading off to the ivy tower. This generation is still a mystery to most organizations, so hiring a few of them might be the best way to strengthen your company’s diversity and prepare it for the future.

A great cup of coffee is one of the essential things in life to baby boomers and Gen Z, but it matters less to millennials. Despite their propensity for spending thousands of dollars a year on fancy lattes, millennials would rather give up coffee before saying goodbye to social media. The same is likely to be even more true for Gen Z.



Gen Z and Millennials in the workplace

Millennials are increasingly shown to value job security, no longer craving constant change as seen in the past. This change may be due to the economic uncertainty their families experienced during the recession in their formative years—one of the things they have in common with Gen Z.

Gen Z is beginning to assert their values in the workplace and seek out their ideal employers:


Job security and a consistent work environment attract these young workers (Quartz).


Gen Zers are very competitive, and they might thrive in companies where healthy competition is encouraged (Forbes). 


This new generation is entrepreneurial and more likely to start a business than its predecessors. Millennials, on the other hand, cherish their downtime and are willing to leave a steady job for one with a better work-life balance, even with a little less pay (Inc).


Millennials would rather email than go to meetings, but Gen Z likes face-to-face communication (Rise).


Digital pioneers vs. digital natives

Although both generations are tech-savvy, Gen Z workers are true digital natives born into a connected world. Millennials were digital pioneers who experienced game-changing technological advances as they happened, but some grew up with landlines, dial-up Internet, and film cameras.

The difference is that while millennials suspect there are technological solutions to most problems, Gen Z is certain of it. From doing their taxes on their smartphones to feeding their pets from miles away using an app, they have few reservations about automation and are always looking for faster, easier, and more efficient ways to get things done.


Gen Z exhibits a different value system

Gen Z workers are consummate multitaskers who might keep open an average of five screens at a time, compared to the two preferred by productive millennials (Huffington Post). This practice could lead to difficulties concentrating on occasions they’re required to unplug.

The hyper-aware Gen Z have ‘beautiful minds’ that can bounce between topics with ease; it’s not unusual to see them scanning the room and checking their phones during a conversation with colleagues. Multitasking may require additional policies and procedures to keep them in check at the office, but it could also be a positive trait if they are equally detail-oriented when facing work tasks. 

Gen Zers are technology-dependent and spend a lot of time on social media, which could be a boon if they work in marketing or communications. They also highly value their privacy, and employers will have to work harder to win their trust (Growing Leaders).


Connecting to Millennial business owners

Gen Zers could be the key to connecting your company with the massive millennial market, both as clients and business contacts. They grew up under the legacy of millennials, so they understand the kind of interactive, personalized customer experience their ‘older siblings’ want. This familiarity can present an advantage for companies seeking to get into the heads of millennials both as workers and clients.


At any given company today, the hiring manager is probably a millennial, who likely also makes up a large percentage of clients–particularly in tech industries. Millennial business owners are more likely to partner with companies that understand technology, where Gen Z excels.


Gen Z workers can help employers understand millennial clients’ and workers’ attachment to technology better than older employees who are less tech-oriented. Modern businesses need an active presence on social media channels, presenting tasks suited for Gen Z workers who grew up using Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms.


While it may seem early to begin accommodating the values and preferences of Gen Z, especially since you just started to understand millennials, it’s never too early to position your workforce and workplace for success in the future



About the Author

Laura Gayle is a full-time blogger who has ghostwritten more than 350 articles for major software companies, tech startups, and online retailers. Founder of the Business Woman Guide, she created her site to be a trusted resource for women trying to start or grow businesses on their own terms.

She has written about everything from crowdfunding and inventory management to product launches, cybersecurity trends, web analytics, and innovations in digital marketing.






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