United States: Move Over, Millennials: Generation Z Comes To The Workplace

You may have noticed a new trend in your workplaces of late without even realizing it. As recent graduates descend into the workforce in entry-level positions across America, you may be under the impression that you are engaging with yet another crop of millennials, that over-analyzed and frequently maligned generation. However, these newest workers – aged 23 and younger – are actually the dawn of Generation Z's coming of age. What can employers expect from the generation who has never known a world without search engines?

Big Mood: Gen Z Storms Into The Workforce

First things first. Generation Z is the term most accepted at the current time to define those born in the late 1990s and later (with the oldest born around 1995 to 1997, depending on the source). There are approximately 60 million members of Gen Z, and while most are still minors at this point, they are expected to account for one-fifth of the workforce by 2020. In other words, if you don't work with them yet, you should expect to work with them in the very near future.

What are their defining characteristics? The most racially diverse generation, 72% believe racial equality is the most important issue today, and nearly half believe employers should be doing more to promote inclusion. They also have greater diversity in gender; in a survey of teens in California, 27% identified as non-binary.

Their outlook is framed from major events that occurred in the early 2000s: the dot-com bust, 9/11, and the subprime mortgage crisis that led to 2008 recession. Given those events, it is perhaps not surprising that, as a generation, they are pessimistic, anxious, and skeptical. And they are stressed. So now that you have a general sense of what they are like, what do you need to know about them as employees in order to best benefit your workplace?

How Do You Do, Fellow Kids? Communicating With Gen Z

We'll start with technology, one of the primary factors that has defined this latest generation. Facebook came to the scene when the oldest were still in elementary school, and approximately 90% have a digital footprint. However, while one might assume that Generation Z prefers communicating through digital means, a recent survey found that 51% prefer face-to-face interactions, and only 25% prefer digital communication. This contradicts managers' expectations, a plurality (41%) of whom believe smartphones and tablets will be the most effective means of communication.

The challenges in communicating with Gen Z may not arise from the method, but rather the content. Gen Z is known to be less focused, but better at multitasking. The key is to get to the point. This generation, who can spot a Valencia filter in the blink of an eye, want their managers to give it to them straight, so that they can be better set up for success.

Also, mentoring is of prime importance to this youngest generation in the workplace. Seventy-five percent" (alternatively, "Three-quarters") of Gen Z workers surveyed say they want a boss who can coach them; they value frequent feedback and manager consistency.

"Upload Your Resume...Now Painstakingly Fill Out This Application" : Hiring Gen-Zers

So how do you go about staying competitive in the modern recruiting game and capturing the newest workers to come work for you? Generation Z wants real connections, even with their recruiters. In fact, they rank the recruiters they worked with as the number one factor that influenced whether or not they accepted a job – five times higher than technology and nearly four times higher than a speedy interview process.

That said, outdated technology can be a turn-off to potential Gen Z applicants. Over half of Gen-Zers will not even complete a job application if the recruiting methods are outdated, and 26% say that lack of tech throughout the hiring process would deter them from accepting a job offer. To appeal to on-the-go Gen Z applicants, employers should consider mobile-friendly job application sites and applications. You may even consider using text messaging as part of your interview process to appeal to their desire for expediency and efficiency.

When You're Trying To Decide Whether To Go Into Work Or Drive Across The County To Start A New Life: Creating A Gen-Z-Friendly Culture

Once you have hired them, you need to turn your attention toward retention tactics. Like millennials, Gen-Zers are global citizens interested in opportunities and companies that follow sustainable business practices, give back to their communities, and know how their work is making an impact. And while they agree with millennials and rank salary and work-life balance as the top two considerations when deciding on whether or not to accept a job offer, their third highest priority is meaningful work

In the same vein, Gen Z also places a high-value on company culture. But that doesn't necessarily mean you need to break out the cornhole sets and electronic scooters around the office. Rather, they want to work for companies that treat their employees like people and provide opportunities for growth. Given Gen-Zers' high stress levels and greater propensity to seek out treatment for their mental health, however, it may be worthwhile to revisit your benefits plans to make sure mental health coverage is sufficient.

Over half of Gen-Zers plan to leave their current employer within three years, but they may stick around if they have an opportunity to grow within the company. Over half aspire to hold management positions. Financial security is also a priority, particularly since only 30% are confident they will be able to repay their student loans.

Been There, Done That

If some of these themes sound familiar, they are. When Gen-X came of age in the early 1990s, they expressed a desire to influence social values, address global issues, and promote racial understanding. And just a few years ago, a study showed that a majority of millennials would take a pay cut to work for a responsible company. 

But there are key distinctions researchers are finding with Generation Z compared with millennials. Specifically, Gen-Zers are more independent and competitive, whereas the prior generation values collaboration. But mostly they're just extra – that is, they are extra diverse, extra accepting, extra stressed, and extra ambitious.

In Conclusion

The newest generation to join the workforce is accustomed to being sold a bill of goods. From Snapchat filters to #fakenews, they are hyperaware that nearly everything they consume has already been "spun" at best, and they are inherently skeptical. And perhaps because of that, they say they place high value on honesty and transparency.  

Because 79% of managers say that they do not plan to change their management style to meet the next generation of workers, there is opportunity for those willing to cut to the chase to attract and maintain the newest generation of ambitious, critically thinking workers. None of these suggestions mean you need to radically change your way of doing business, and in fact, adopting them will not lead you to be valuing the younger generation over the rest of your workers. Instead, you'll simply create a more flexible work environment suited for the 21st century.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions