Generation Z

Move over, millennials — Generation Z is entering the building. The oldest members of Generation Z, born in the mid to late 1990s, are now starting their careers.[1] Their entry adds more complexity to a work environment in transition as baby boomers continue to retire and millennials — in their 20s and 30s and 75 million strong[2] — begin moving into management positions.

Human resource specialists view Generation Z’s migration into the workplace as likely to prompt changes to corporate policies, values and norms. Although similar in many ways to those of millennials, Gen Z attitudes have been shaped by growing up during the Great Recession, incurring high student loan debt, and having concerns about the rising cost of living and healthcare.[3] Their need for financial security tempers their thinking.

Generation Z values order, structure and practicality in their work lives. At the same time, this generation tends to be more innovative, creative and entrepreneurial than millennials, which may impact their level of commitment to established companies. Many Generation Z workers are less optimistic about their careers and work opportunities than their millennial counterparts. They seek financial security, career advancement, opportunities to contribute and work/life balance.

Members of Generation Z are technology-intuitive “digital natives.” They are the first generation born in the computer age that has used smartphones, tablets and social media effortlessly throughout their lives. They are never without their smartphones and rely on them for both personal and professional use. Generation Z workers expect companies to have collaborative systems and to merge social and emerging digital technologies seamlessly to help them perform their jobs.

Like millennials, Generation Z values technology, collaboration and ongoing communication with their managers and leaders.[4] They expect to find mentors and coaches among their more experienced coworkers and want ongoing feedback and dialogue about their career progress. They are project-oriented and ready to take on responsibility early.[5]

In five years, Generation Z will represent 20% of the workforce.[6] Companies that begin early to engage with and support the goals and aspirations of Generation Z workers have the best chance to retain and develop this dynamic new group of employees. 

[1] “Gen Z and Millennials collide at work,” A study by Randstad and Future Workplace, 2016. Available at: http://experts.randstadusa.com/hubfs/Randstad_GenZ_Millennials_Collide_Report.pdf

[2] “Millennials overtake Baby Boomers as America’s largest generation,” by Richard Fry, Pew Research Center, April 25, 2016. Available at: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/04/25/millennials-overtake-baby-boomers/

[3] “Gen Z and Millennials collide at work,” A study by Randstad and Future Workplace, 2016. Available at: http://experts.randstadusa.com/hubfs/Randstad_GenZ_Millennials_Collide_Report.pdf

[4] “Gen Z and Millennials collide at work,” A study by Randstad and Future Workplace, 2016. Available at: http://experts.randstadusa.com/hubfs/Randstad_GenZ_Millennials_Collide_Report.pdf

[5] “Generation Z and the Workplace: What You Need to Know,” by John Boitnott, Inc., Jan. 27, 2016. Available at: http://www.inc.com/john-boitnott/generation-z-and-the-workplace-what-you-need-to-know-.html

[6] “Generation Z and the Workplace: What You Need to Know,” by John Boitnott, Inc., Jan. 27, 2016. Available at: http://www.inc.com/john-boitnott/generation-z-and-the-workplace-what-you-need-to-know-.html