Although Generation Z and Millennials can often get grouped together by their similarities, the two groups of young job market entrants are actually distinct in terms of what they value most. Understanding your employees is critical in the workplace, and digging into what defines a ‘Gen Z’ versus a ‘Millennial’ will benefit how you tap into the strengths and weaknesses of your team. For hiring purposes, having a strong grasp on what Gen Z or Millennials are looking for will draw the best possible talent as companies begin to welcome younger employees into the job market. Here are a few distinctions that set Gen Z apart from Millennials – and what that could mean for their contributions to the workplace.
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Gen Z will naturally overlap with Millennials in a few ways. You shouldn’t be surprised that their multi-tasking abilities are just as strong, if not stronger. It may even appear that they are wasting time or un-focused with all their devices running simultaneously – but Gen Z’ers are more than capable of getting a lot done in a short amount of time – even with all that background noise. Gen Z, like Millennials, also appreciate updated technology and appealing work spaces. Don’t expect a Gen Z employee to be thrilled about a cubicle situation – they will strive in a more active, open environment.
Apart from these smaller characteristics, there are a few major areas where Gen Z sets itself apart from Millennials – and these areas are largely tied to what they value. These areas center on three concerns: job security, financial stability, and entrepreneurship.
According to a recent survey on Gen Z, 70 percent of respondents would prefer a stable job without a high level of emotional investment or passion over a job with lots of passion but no security or stability. Their perspective is one that hasn’t been seen on a large scale since Baby Boomers entered the job market, and it is likely that their expectations have been tempered by the experiences of Millennials who have been let down by “dream” job prospects in recent years. Overall, most students’ greatest aspiration is to be financially stable (31 percent), the survey finds. The second greatest aspiration is to find their dream job (28 percent).
It’s also clear that Gen Z values financial stability and security and has concerns about success financially. This trend is likely a direct response to the unstable financial market that Gen Z witnessed over the years – as well as the impact that this had on Millennials who entered the job and housing markets before Gen Z. For Gen Z, the cost of education is more of a concern than it is for Millennials (21 percent vs. 13 percent), according to the recent survey. Gen Z also values the prospect of owning a home one day – possibly more than any generation since their great-grandparents. “An astounding 97 percent of post-millennials believe they will one day own a home; 82 percent say it is the most important part of the American Dream,” Time Money reports.
Millennials are commonly involved with a number of side projects or multiple sources of income – but Gen Z is much more focused on working for themselves entirely. A study put together by Entrepreneur found that “61 percent of high school students and 43 percent of college students would rather be an entrepreneur instead of an employee when they graduate college.” While Millennials are entrepreneurial, they probably got a later start than many Gen Zs. Gen Z students now have access to resources that catalyze entrepreneurial behaviors earlier on – and many companies are starting to engage with high school students to foster these skills as an investment.
Overall, Millennials and Gen Z do share some strong similarities – both generations have been a part of the exponentially growing technological movement and are more plugged in and connected to resources than ever before. However, Gen Z has watched Millennials apply high expectations and aspirations in a struggling market, which has ultimately tempered Gen Z expectations and caused them to look for financial and job security and pay closer attention to their student loan debt. Gen Z is also, by default more connected to tech and entrepreneurial resources and we should expect to see those resources activated as Gen Z enters the marketplace.