The next generation hungry to enter the workplace is Generation Z. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Generation Z (the post-Millennial generation) makes up 25% of the population. (See, Who Is Generation Z? 4 Big Ways They Will Be Different, to learn more.)
Sixty-two percent of Generation Zers anticipate challenges working with Baby Boomers and Generation Xers vs. only 5% who anticipate challenges working with Millennials.
Companies with a firm understanding of the expectations and preferences of the emerging generation will be well-equipped to attract the next generation of talent, maximize their potential, alleviate the inevitable cross-generational challenges, and capitalize on cognitive diversity through a generationally diverse workforce.
Here are eight key differences you need to know:
1. Realistic vs. Optomistic
Seventy-seven percent of Generation Zers expect to work harder than previous generations.
Millennials became optimistic thanks to their encouraging Baby Boomer parents and growing up in a time of prosperity and opportunity. Generation Zers will be realistic thanks to their skeptical and straight-shooting Generation X parents and growing up in a recession. According to Pew Charitable Trusts, during the Great Recession, the median net worth of Generation Z’s parents fell by nearly 45%.
2. Independent vs. Collaborative
Seventy-one percent of Generation Zers said they believe the phrase “if you want it done right, then do it yourself.”
When given the option to arrange a group of desks, Millennials would opt for a collaborative arrangement and assemble the desks into a circle. Generation Z will be more competitive with their colleagues and will harness a do-it-yourself mentality at work. In fact, 69% of Generation Zers would rather have their own work space than share it with someone else.
3. Digital Natives vs. Digital Pioneers
Forty percent of Generation Zers said that working Wi-Fi was more important to them than working bathrooms.
According to Pew Research, only 14% of U.S. adults had access to the Internet in 1995, but by 2014, 87% had access. Millennials were pioneers in the digital age. They witnessed the introduction and rise of social media, instant messaging, smartphones, search engines, and the mobile revolution. Generation Z did not witness these innovations, but rather, they were born into it. Ubiquitous connectivity, highly curated global information, on-demand video, and 24/7 news cycles are native to Generation Z.
4. Private vs. Public
Seventy percent of Generation Zers would rather share personal information with their pet than with their boss.
As digital pioneers, Millennials explored (and in some cases exploited) social media and made public their thoughts, opinions, and every noteworthy or menial life update. With safety and security top of mind, Generation Zers will be much more calculated and/or selective with the information they share online. For example, Generation Z gravitated to Snapchat because of the time-bound content that won’t live online forever like a Tweet or Facebook post would.
5. Face-to-Face vs. Digital Only
Seventy-four percent of Generation Z prefer to communicate face-to-face with colleagues.
Millennials pioneered many of the digital communication tools (e.g., texting, instant messaging, Slack) that have made the workplace more efficient and effective but, some would argue, less personable. Equipped with their experience communicating using full sight, sound, and motion over Skype®, FaceTime, Snapchat, etc., Generation Z is positioned as the ideal generation to finally strike the right balance between online and offline workplace communications.
6. On Demand Learning vs. Formally Educated
Seventy-five percent of Generation Z say there are other ways of getting a good education than by going to college, according to Sparks & Honey.
Millennials are questioning if their large student debt was worth it, especially considering that 44% of recent college grads are employed in jobs not requiring degrees, and one in eight recent college grads are unemployed. Generation Z will explore education alternatives. They will pursue on-demand or just-in-time learning solutions, like how-to YouTube tutorials, or will seek employers that offer robust on-the-job and development training.
6. Role-Hopping vs. Job-Hopping
Seventy-five percent of Generation Z would be interested in a situation in which they could have multiple roles within one place of employment.
Growing up in fast times and coming of age in an on-demand culture, Millennials have little patience for stagnation, especially when it comes to their careers. Generation Z won’t want to miss out on any valuable experience and will want to flex their on-demand learning muscle by trying out various roles or projects (e.g., marketing, accounting, human resources) inside of the organization.
8. Golden Citizen vs. Global Spectator
Fifty-eight percent of adults worldwide aged 35+ agree that “kids today have more in common with their global peers than they do with adults in their own country.”
Millennials were considered the first global generation because they shared similar characteristics and values across borders, and they were able to view significant global events in real time. However, Generation Z interacts with their global peers with greater fluidity than any other generation. As more of the world comes online, geographies will continue to shrink, causing Generation Z to view themselves as global citizens.
Ryan Jenkins is an internationally recognized Millennial and Generation Z keynote speaker, Inc.com columnist, and author of The Millennial Manual: The Complete How-To Guide to Manage, Develop, and Engage Millennials at Work.