Millennials have been pouring into the workforce for some time now, reshaping the world of work as we know it. To meet this influx, many organizations have altered their cultures in hopes of accommodating and retaining their valuable millennial employees.
Now, there’s another generation following suit: Generation Z, comprised of individuals born in 1995 or later. In fact, they make up the largest percentage of the United States’ population and, in five years, they’ll make up a whopping one-fifth of the workforce. As they begin to come of age and enter the workforce, what do companies need to know? What are the similarities and differences between Generation Z and Millennials? Let’s explore.
The Differences Between Generations, and Why They Matter
If you’re under the impression Millennials have the shortest attention span of any generation, prepare to be corrected. Generation Z’s attention span is shorter than Millennials’. Why? It’s likely because Generation Z has grown up in a world constantly updating, largely consuming their information through apps like Vine and Snapchat. What does this mean for employers? Adapting a business scheme that allows Generation Z employees to consume the information needed in brief spurts would have obvious benefits.
Just because Generation Z has a shorter attention span than Millennials, though, doesn’t mean they can’t handle multiple things at once. The technological word that Generation Z has been exposed to throughout their life has allowed them to become better, more efficient multi-taskers.
Another differentiating attribute between Gen Z and Millennials involves their expectations for careers. While thirty-two percent of individuals in the workforce today—across all generations—said they wanted to own their own business. In contrast, nearly half of those in Gen Z stated they wanted to own their own business. It’s possible Gen Z’s attraction to entrepreneurship is related to their outlook on work-life. Almost 75 percent of Gen Z said they cared more about the meaning of their work than how much it pays.
While some Millennials remember a world without social media and interconnectivity, the same can’t be said for Gen Z. Generation Z has grown up in a world dominated by social media and interconnectedness by way of the web. This exposure to technology from an early age has led Gen Z to be more mobile than Millennials—a feat, no doubt, since Millennials’ penchant for mobility is well known.
If you thought social media marketing and user generated content were already popular, they’re going to become increasingly crucial to the success of companies sooner rather than later. Everyone from marketers to HR teams must take note: Only 5 percent of Gen Z doesn’t use social media.
In addition, organizations must note the increase of mobile use in Gen Z-ers. More mobile devices means more mobile traffic for online consumption. And, note that while some Millennials impulse buy while online shopping, Gen Z has a stronger tendency to research products before purchase—an information-seeking trait that will most certainly carry over into their workplace activities. Making information available in real time—and, of course, on mobile devices—will be even more important to Gen Z-ers in work environments.
Gen Z and Millennials in the Future
Millennials have been in the workforce for years, and employers have made the changes necessary to retain and attract their Millennial employees. For example, companies are starting to realize employees don’t necessarily have to be in the office to be productive. With the advances in technology, a flexible work schedule has also helps to attract millennials. Companies have also noticed millennials desire for recognition in the workplace, and have started making changes to corporate culture.
Bottom line: With the rise of Gen Z, and their vast technological knowledge and drive for meaningful work, employers are going to have to begin strategizing changes once again. How do you think Gen Z will impact the world of work, and how can organizations rise to meet these changes? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.