Will Gen Z Outperform Millennials?


Forget Millennials: Generation Z (Gen Z) – those born between 1994 and 2010 – start entering the workforce this summer. They are – in many ways –an ideal cohort; but they have clear expectations that employers must be prepared to meet.

The Brighton School of Business and Management has good news for recruiters coming to terms with the demands of Millennials: research conducted suggests that Gen Z are more entrepreneurial, loyal, flexible, and realistic in their approach to work than the demographic that precedes them.  

As millennial expert Dan Schwabel observed, “Gen Z has seen how much Gen Y has struggled in this recession [and] they come to the workplace better prepared, less entitled and more equipped to succeed.” In fact, 80% of them say they are more driven than their peers, and three in four believe that they will have to work harder to have a satisfying and fulfilling professional life than their predecessors did.

So, what exactly are this undiscovered group looking to gain from their prospective employers?

Gen Z are ambitious

Firstly, half of Gen Z are university graduates (compared to only one third of Millennials) and they arrive in the workplace with even-more substantial student loans to pay off and a healthy appreciation of money (60% agree that wealth is a sign of success). One in every three of Gen Z wants to become a manager within the next five years, and 34% say they are motivated by opportunities for advancement (compared to 23% who seek ‘meaningful work’).  Clearly, organisations that want to appeal to Gen Z should demonstrate a clear path to career progression:  this new group of employees will be looking for a commitment to workplace training and evidence of rapid promotion.  

Gen Z want to get personal

Two out of three of those in Gen Z say that technology makes them feel like that anything is possible and four in five will exhibit signs of emotional distress if they are separated from their personal electronic devices (which suggests many of them will favour companies with a Bring Your Own Device policy in place).

Yet, almost paradoxically, Gen Z places a high value on personal communication, with the majority favouring face-to-face communication with their manager (only 16% preferred to communicate over email). This also aligns with the study’s finding that, like Millennials before them, Gen Z will actively seek out mentors at the start of their career.  Quality management and face-time with senior executives will be among the attributes that Gen Z is looking for in a prospective employer.  

Gen Z favours flexibility

Although the vast majority of Gen Z is not currently weighed down by family obligations, a significant number of them already foresee a time when finding a work/life balance will become an issue: 28% say that balancing work and personal obligations is their top future career concern. Organisations that can demonstrate they have implemented flexible working strategies will be best positioned to recruit from Gen Z.

No need to re-invent the re-invented wheel

Those organisations that have re-engineered to accommodate the workstyle ambitions of Millennials (implementing BYOD, output-driven management, a digital workplace, mentoring and career development programmes, etc) will find that Gen Z will fit pretty seamlessly into that new environment. Those that have not done so will find themselves falling even further behind in the race to recruit the next generation of talent.

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