Who is Gen Z and how will they impact the workplace?

Who or what is Gen Z? For those who might still be debating whether millennials have changed the way we do business, it might be of benefit to know that there is now another distinct generational group approaching the workforce en masse. Enter “Generation Z” to disrupt recruiting, training, managing, and mentoring as we have come to know these things in the world of business.

With Generation Z in the workplace, how will the business world have to adjust to this next generation of workers? It’s in the best interests of companies and leadership to get to know Gen Z, who will represent about one in five people in the United States by 2020.

They truly care and want to make a positive difference in the world. You can get them engaged if you trust them like the creative, competent, and caring employees they are.

What is Gen Z?

Generation Z, more or less, comprises those who grew up deeply connected to technology, practically from the moment they became self-aware. Generation Z characteristics are interesting and specific; Generation Z features avid gamers and music-goers, and they are known for being ever-present messaging, on the internet, on social networks, and on mobile systems—they are truly the “Digital-ites.” They tend to care about trends, but are also quick to research top issues. 

Generation cutoffs.

Generation Z is defined to be those with birth years roughly between 1995 to 2010—this compares with their millennial (a.k.a., “Gen Y”) cohorts, whose birthdays span approximately 1981 to 1994. The parents of Generation Z are usually those in Generation X, and Baby Boomer or Silent Generation grandparents are common for Generation Z.

Gen Z vs millennials.

The primary commonalities in focus and passion between Gen Z and the Millennials include:

·      A desire to find (or create) meaning

·      A motivation to contribute to the world

·      Being highly educated

·      Cultural diversity

·      A desire for their own personalized experience

Gen Z is also different from millennials in many ways. Many things that millennials foster as preferences have become expectations of Gen Z’ers, and they expect you to take them seriously. They define themselves differently, are intrigued by group trends, are passionate about issues that their parents may not understand, and are willing to do research.

Those differences that Gen Z’ers will be known:

·      Less validation expectations

·      More independent

·      More entrepreneurial

·      More communicative

·      More competitive

·      More motivated by security

·      Driven by career/financial goals

Generation Z in the workplace.

Generation Z is still relatively new to the workplace, but they are already making their mark in businesses by demonstrating new levels of digital competence, dedication, and drive to achieve a goal.

In the years to come, as more Generation Z’ers enter the workforce, it will be important for business leaders to understand the work, and benefits that they will expect to best recruit and keep them. Young employees of the new generation are always important to recruit to your business, as they offer a fresh perspective and insight, as well as valuable skills.

Technology dependent.

Another distinct difference between Gen Z and millennials can be seen in the difference between technology dependence vs. technology fluency.

Gen Z’ers are significantly more dependent on technology, while millennials would be considered technology-fluent. Technological fluency refers to an inherent, intuitive understanding of technology and how to use it. 

For Gen Z’ers, their technological dependence is not necessarily considered to be an addiction, but rather that they view their mobile devices as “extensions” of themselves, and that they can even feel anxiety without them. They also use their devices to the extent that their use causes them to lose sleep, but that would appear to “come with the territory.”


As a generation that grew up with high-speed internet and the openness to personal information sharing on social media, it should come as no surprise that Gen Z is well-known for being ever-connected online to their peers and social communities—they have shown an inclination for more intimate, immediate social networks such as Snapchat. Generation Z is also well known for using FaceTime instead of texting or calling, unlike previous generations and their utilization of social media and digital services.

Generation Z truly live and breathe the virtual connection life, and it’s extremely common to see them becoming social and product influencers. Social media is a crucial element to this generation as technology continues to expand.

Always working on a side hustle.

Like the millennial generation before them, members of Gen Z can also be considered a “side hustle” generation—more than half of them prefer to juggle more than one source of income. It’s very common to see an industrious Gen Z’er working on freelance photographic project or managing their own e-commerce website during a lunch break.

Nearly one in five Gen Z’ers want to run their own business, and the vast majority of them would like to turn pet hobbies into full-time careers.\

How should businesses adapt for Gen Z workers?

Success in business is all about being able to adapt and adjust effectively to challenges and changes, and companies with a culture led by those grounded in a firm foundation in business will be necessary to deal with this generational challenge.

The right business education will help business leaders be prepared to work with multiple generations in one work place. Problem-solving, tech-savvy leaders will be crucial in blending the many generations into a cohesive workforce. Getting a proper education in the specific technology and management strategies of a good business leader will be the best road to success.

As mentioned above, Gen Z members will more-often-than-not be working a side gig of some sort. They’re not after work-life balance so much as they want to establish work-life blend.

They have no problem responding to an e-mail late in the evening, but they’ll expect some flexibility with their work schedule, and whenever you might see them sending personal e-mails or texts at work.

Diversity acceptance.

Despite (or perhaps because of) the influence that toxic political differences and economic volatility have had on them, Gen Z’ers are much more tolerant of other races, cultures, and genders, as well as much more interconnected with them all. 

Many younger generations like millennials and Generation Z’s have a sense of social justice makes diversity a must in the workplace.

Embracing technology.

If the stomach was the way to the heart of a man for the Baby Boomers, technology is definitely the way to the heart of Generation Z. According to various studies, more than three in four Gen Z’ers spend between one and 10 hours daily connected to some sort of electronic device.

Companies and management will want to demonstrate to their Gen Z’ers a healthy embrace for new technology. Not just in the physical workplace, but also by making accommodations for employees to work from home and other locations rather than trapped in a cubicle for 40+ hours weekly.

Posted in WGU

Please share our hub with the world!