Who is Gen Z & Their Characteristics in the Workplace


Last Updated: August 30, 2022
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Who is Gen Z?

The term “millennials” has been going around the circuit for some time now, and older generations are just about beginning to understand this fascinating creature called a “millennial” and its functioning. Just so we’re all on the same page, millennials are people born around 1985 and later. The term Gen Z is fairly new in comparison, and many experts are yet to define it accurately. Roughly speaking, Gen Z are people born in December 2000 and later; the offspring of the Gen X.

Gen Zers like Kylie Jenner are no less than icons. Apart from being a successful TV personality, Jenner has a range of beauty and cosmetic products popular among the youth. Other Gen Zers like YouTube star PewDiePie and stand-up comedian Bo Burnham deserve a special mention for their immense popularity with this generation as well with millennials.

People working on laptop

Gen Z vs Millennials in the Workforce

A few weeks ago, we helped corporates understand how to handle millennials. However, Gen Z is all set to make an entry into the workforce, and marketers are now targeting this new generation as their new consumer base. Gen Z comes with its own set of skills and challenges. Just like new tactics are required to get their attention for selling a product, newer management tactics are required to integrate them into your team and maximise their productivity. Come to think of it, they are pretty much on your team for the next few years, till the generation after Gen Z can take over as employees. 

As this arrangement is still fairly new, teething troubles between the management and the young workforce are inevitable. It is important to be mindful of a few things to make sure your operations run smoothly. While it’s not possible to sum up trends of an entire generation, here are five aspects that explain how Gen Z differs from millennials. Attention, potential employers!

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Less Focused? More like Great Multi-Taskers

Unlike all other generations, this one was definitely born with smartphones and instant connectivity to the Internet. Gen Z is hooked to “snackier” content such as vines and stories on social apps such as Instagram and Snapchat. In fact, according to prominent speaker Ryan Jenkins, about 92% of children in the US have a digital footprint. Gen Z is always looking for the ‘next trend’; they get bored easily and need variety. This is what makes them great multitaskers. Most Gen Zers know how to use technology to their benefit. They can switch between their tasks easily and handle multiple projects together efficiently.

Apps on phone

They’re Not Impatient; They Just Expect More

As they’ve witnessed the mind-boggling evolution of technology growing up, Gen Z is less forgiving when it comes to companies using obsolete software applications and insisting on chunky hardware. Ask a 20-year-old to wait a whole minute for a video to load, and chances are, they’re losing interest in the first five seconds. And if you’ve restricted their social media or online access, you’ve lost them right at the very start. Give them room to breathe, and the sleek equipment they need.

Less Parenting, More Mentoring

In most metropolitan cities, baby boomers and millennials follow a nuclear family system, where both parents hold day jobs. Many Gen Zers are latchkey kids and self-sufficient when it comes to taking care of themselves. Besides, they are all treated like adults when they are online. They may seem to seek attention from peers but, like everybody, they do not like being ‘babied around’. If managers with young teams understand this mindset, they might find it easier to approach their employees/team members.

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Gen Z is More Global than Millennials

Gen Zers have been online more or less since their childhood. 58% of adults worldwide over 35+ years old agree that “kids today have more in common with their global peers than they do with adults in their own country”. They know how to speak to their peers globally, and understand them better than anyone else. They know trends, the right ‘lingo’, what drives these global peers, etc., and this knowledge is painful to gain with just research. Having Gen Z on your team will help you get more young customers and retain your existing ones.

GenZ-ers are More Entrepreneurial

Gen Z marketing strategist Deep Patel says, “The newly developing high tech and highly networked world has resulted in an entire generation thinking and acting more entrepreneurially.” Gen Z has seen ups and downs in the financial markets, and have faced recession in almost every country. This has led them to infer that an independent setup is more stable when it comes to working. According to an article in Huffington Post (December 2017), about 72% teenagers aspire to own a business someday. As a result, they are keen and quick learners, and constantly looking to innovate.

Boy smiling

Everything is an Opportunity in Disguise

You get so many great things with a young team on board. They are great with technology and can adapt quickly. We live in an age of information, where they are more tuned in than their older counterparts, and how! This translates into a smoother learning curve. They know social media and how it works better than most people. They may seem restless and distracted, but if they’re given enough clarity on their roles and varied responsibilities, they can contribute more.

Every generation comes with its own set of pros and cons. As an employer, it is up to you to find out how to leverage their strengths and find a workaround for the problem areas. As long as you know how to utilise their strengths well, you’re going to have a happy and productive workforce that benefits you, the employer, as well as them, the employees.

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Climate Change is a Concern for Generation Z

The environment and climate change are important to Generation Z. When it comes to job selection, career advancement under large company banners is not the only major consideration for Gen Z. They aren’t materialistic in the least. If you have a green footprint and are striving to avert climate change, Gen Zers would choose to stay with your company. They are acutely conscious of their environment and forward-thinking.

Generation Z Prefers Self-Direction

Gen z is a self-starting generation that like to work on their own. Working in groups is not a problem for Gen Z employees, but they prefer to work independently. Working independently allows them to show off their work and abilities and be an individual contributor to a project. Furthermore, they are motivated by praise and enjoy receiving credit for their efforts. As a result, motivating Gen Zers is simple — praising and honouring their work is the way to go. This reflects their competitive, entrepreneurial nature: they want to make it on their own. Rather than collaborating on joint projects with others, many members of Generation Z are looking for jobs that provide them a lot of autonomy and control.

woman working

They are All About Diversity

Generation Z is the most diverse part of the population to date. Generation Z is exposed to an abundance of diversity due to their access to technology, in addition to being a separate part of a population. They can readily communicate thoughts and beliefs with people of other races, genders, and origins online, as they are more racially and ethnically diverse than all the previous generations. They encourage and welcome variety in their personal and professional circles since it is so natural to them.

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