8 Ways Gen Z May Differ From Millennials in the Workforce

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The pool of applicants is about to become even bigger than before. Young people from Generation Z are branching out into their first full-time positions in industries. They may seem like their millennial counterparts, but they’ll bring a few different traits to their teams. 

These are a few ways Gen Z may differ from millennials in the workforce. Here are some tips on how employers can expect them to integrate into the workplace.

1. They Want Better Job Security

Gen Z is typically defined as people born between 1997 and 2012, although the same years vary slightly depending on the source. Their age range makes them the first kids to experience a post-9/11 world and the Great Recession. They’ve seen loved ones laid off and struggle to find employment, so they’ll likely want jobs that promise long-term potential. 

Younger people may often apply to small companies that know everyone personally to reduce the odds of getting laid off. They could also be more loyal to employers who define their job security with outlined progression paths to promotions. Emphasizing stable employment with specifics is an excellent way to keep Gen Zers interested in potential jobs.

2. They Need More Independence

Learning everything they could absorb through school and the internet made Gen Zers very independent and, in some cases, even more independent than millennials. They have confidence in their ability to learn, so they desire increased workplace independence in more ways than one.

Open floor plans will turn young people away compared to private cubicles or office spaces. Independence is another reason Gen Zers will also prefer hybrid or remote schedules. Giving them the flexibility and freedom to step out independently lets them thrive in their careers.

3. They Could Have Improved Mental Health

When Gen Zers graduate from high school and college, they will have an ever-increasing professional world to explore. Traditional jobs may have seemed like their first option, but young people can now rely on remote positions. Working from home can provide significant work-life balance, so they may not have the same crushing demands of workplace stressors as millennials.

Most millennials were born in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Traditional workplace schedules were often their only option when they started looking for their first full-time jobs. 31% of millennials struggle with depression, and coping with professional stress, anxiety, and time-bound commutes may have impacted their mental health over time. Time will tell how Gen Z’s collective mental health compares to their millennial counterparts.

4. They May Not Be As Financially Savvy Right Now

Young people are eager to carve a place in professional environments, but they may not be the best choice for positions with budgets. A recent survey found that millennials are more fiscally responsible than any other generation. Compared to older and younger generations, 34% of millennials have budgets and rank higher than other age groups in financial success.

Companies that need help navigating the economics of their business or reducing spending may want to consider millennials for their open positions. New Gen Z employees may require more training, time, and practice to get up to speed, but more time will tell how this generation will tend to perform in the workplace in this regard.

5. They Want In-Person Discussions

If you spend more than a few minutes on the internet forums that host Gen Z memes, you’ll see plenty of content about making anxious phone calls or avoiding full inboxes. Although it’s a common theme that young people hate face-time, research reveals a different picture.

Recent studies show that 53% of Gen Zers prefer talking face-to-face rather than sending emails or instant messages. They’re better able to read someone’s intentions and subtext through body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice. It removes the anxiety of digital or phone communication, which can be refreshing for workplaces with baby boomers who don’t always enjoy those forms of technology either.

6. They Could Be More Entrepreneurial

Gen Zers are 55% more likely to become entrepreneurs than millennials. Their independence and desire for financial freedom from problems like student debt make it an attractive career prospect. Although employers can’t offer that level of autonomy, more stand-alone roles would make them feel at home in the workplace.

Employers could also seek businesses owned by Gen Zers. It could make larger companies more appealing to young job applicants since they know their age won’t count against them in professional opportunities.

7. They Tend to Have Shorter Attention Spans

Maintaining your focus is an essential skill for any employee. They need to know how to stay on track with goals and deadlines, so their team and employer succeed alongside them. Millennials have shown to be slightly better at this skill because they grew up with less access to social media.

Research shows that Gen Zers have an eight-second attention span due to constant feed updates and platforms with quick video content. They may struggle with long-term work because their brains quickly desire the next new thing. Millennials grew up with technology, but many still spent their formative childhood years in a world where they needed to entertain themselves, read, or participate in longer activities. As a result, they may not need as much hand-holding to stay focused in the workplace.

8. They May Change Their Social Media

Millennials post about the fun things they do with friends and family. Before scheduling an interview, Gen Zers know that their future bosses will judge them through social media platforms.

They’re more likely to keep their posts workplace-appropriate and operate private accounts that don’t use their names for everything else. Recruiters should break the stigma that not finding a social media presence for a young person means bad news. Instead, it’s an opportunity to evaluate who is planning for their lifelong professional success.

Prepare for Gen Z in the Workplace

There are numerous ways Gen Z may differ from millennials in the workforce, so recruiting teams should plan for these factors to influence their future hiring decisions. Before interviewing and hiring more young people, keeping them in mind will help them find the best position for their skill sets in any company.

Recruiters can also plan to hire events around venues popular with Gen Zers. College campuses, coffee shops, and cities with younger populations could benefit companies wanting more age diversity within their teams. Posting job opportunities and networking on social media may also help brands hire younger talent. It all depends on how an existing recruiting team currently finds candidates.


Mia Barnes is the co-founder of Body+Mind.


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Mia Barnes writes about health, personal finance, and the many ways in which those two elements intersect. She is the co-founder of the online health magazine "Body+Mind" and enjoys sharing her experiences as a young business owner with others.