There’s a new generation making waves in the workplace. It might be hard to believe, but the youngest Millennials are already in their mid-twenties. The generation that’s following them, Generation Z, already has members old enough to enter the workforce. This is the first time in history that 4 distinct generations (Boomers, Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z) have comprised a significant part of the workforce simultaneously. With Gen Z entering the workforce and putting their stamp on their careers, it’s time we get to know this generation and learn how they’re setting themselves apart from Millennials. Here are a few things you should know about Gen Zers.
tech-savvy is their middle name
Gen Z grew up with an internet-connected tablet in hand. Unlike Millennials who first developed their relationship with technology as teenagers or young adults, Gen Z has never known a world without constant connectedness. From the time they could walk and talk, they’ve been immersed in the digital world. Gen Z isn’t just present online, they know all the shortcuts and hacks to make the most of their digital lives. They’re early adopters of trends. They’ve completely ignored traditional cable TV and radio in favour of YouTube and streaming services. They have the highest adoption of ad blockers. They’re fluent in emoji-speak. They know what’s cool online, and are on the cutting edge of internet culture.
they’re glued to their devices
Gen Z spends more time on their smartphones than any other generation, even Millennials, who have earned a reputation for being too reliant on their smart devices. On average, Gen Zers spend 15.4 hours on their smartphone compared to Millennials’ 14.8 hours. If you still doubt Gen Z’s devotion their devices, 40% of them said a strong WiFi connection was more important to them than working bathrooms when looking for a workplace. Yes, really.
they’re into gadgets and products
Unlike their Millennial counterparts who are known to eschew designer goods and ‘stuff’ in favour of life experiences such as enjoying exotic cuisine and travel, Gen Zers are all about material goods. They prioritize owning cool products over experiences. This may be because they came of age during the great recession, so having the security of tangible things is important to them. They’re attracted to tech gadgets, in particular. Having the newest, shiniest, coolest products matters to them. They’re more likely to upgrade their phone as soon as the newest model drops, or try out a new piece of tech the second it hits the market. They’re early adopters of trends such as voice assistants, Internet of Things (IoT) and augmented reality (AR) devices.
Gen Z is the first generation to come of age in a post-9/11, post-great-recession world. Their worldview is shaped by these events, however. Many Gen Zers grew up in an era where money was tight and their parents or the adults around them were going through difficult financial times. As a result, they’re more averse to taking risks. They have more traditional worldview than Millennials who came of age in the prosperous 90s and early 2000s and were encouraged to take non-traditional paths to follow their dreams. Gen Zers are more focused on attaining traditional, stable jobs, such as office work. 36% of Gen Zers said they’d like to work in an office. On the other hand, Millennials have largely rejected 9-to-5 office work as boring or predictable, favouring non-traditional work setups that allow them to work from home, choose flexible hours, wear casual clothes to work, or travel often.
Just because they’re more traditionally-minded, don’t think that Gen Z isn’t breaking the mold in other ways. Gen Z is the most racially and culturally diverse generation in history. According the Pew Research Center, almost half (48%) of Gen Zers are non-Caucasian. Compare that to previous generations: Millennials (44%), Gen Xers (30%) and Baby Boomers (18%). It’s almost certain that in the generation that follows Gen Z, Caucasians will be in the minority for the first time in history. Ethnic diversity has been normalized for younger generations who grew up surrounded by people who are different than them. This is shaping their worldview, politics and how they approach working with people who look different than themselves.
they’re independent and goal-oriented
Gen Z wants to change the world and make their mark independently. While Millennials have largely been focused on mentorship and learning the ropes from those that came before them, Gen Zers want to forge their own path in the workplace. They’re extremely independent, and want to do things their way, especially when it comes to developing their career. They’re very goal oriented, and adopt a very direct path to get what they want.
they’re well educated
They’re following a very traditional path when it comes to their education. Gen Z will be the most educated generation in history. They strongly believe in the value of post-secondary education and believe obtaining an education is the best path to land a secure, well-paying job. 59% of Gen Z have obtained a post-secondary education or on track to graduate, up from 53% of Millennials and 44% of Gen Xers.
they value privacy
This might seem counter-intuitive given Gen Zers are known for their love of social media. However, unlike Millennials, who grew up with very public forms of social media (like Facebook and Twitter) that broadcast their every thought to the masses, Gen Z has gravitated to more closed circuit social media, like Snapchat and Instagram stories, which are circulated within a smaller circle and disappear after a specified amount of time. In general, Gen Zers are much more selective about where and how they post their information online.