Gen Z is about to infiltrate the workplace, and yet the work habits of this generation are unlike any before them. As an example, 75 percent of Gen Z-ers say they’re interested in having multiple roles within one place of employment. Sixty-one percent consider consistent exposure to new experiences to be more important than climbing the corporate ladder. And unlike the collaborative generation before them (Millennials), Gen Z-ers prefer their own office.
Recruiting, managing and retaining this generation will look different than it does for the preceding generations. Interested in preparing for our future employees, we reached out to one-half of the father-son, multi-generation speaking team specializing in generations, Jonah Stillman. A Gen Z-er himself, we spoke about the differences between Gen Z and Millennials, where Gen Z gets its news and some of the nuances of the working world’s newest employees.
Studio/E: What is the biggest difference between Gen Z and Millennials?
Jonah: Millennials grew up in a time of economic prosperity. They grew up during the tech boom, when everything was growing. Gen Z grew up in a post-911 and recession world. We saw struggles at home and around the world. We’re coming of age with a much more realistic attitude about things. We’re more self-driven and self-motivated, and we’re going to drastically change the way we go about the workplace. We’re the most competitive generation since the Baby Boomers – if not the most competitive. In comparison to Millennials, who like to work in teams, we are less collaborative. The way we work is, if you want something done right, do it yourself.
What is the biggest misconception about Gen Z?
Our use of technology. Many people assume leaders will be able to dazzle us with technology. But we aren’t dazzled by technology because we’ve always had it. It’s not enough to simply have technology. We’re looking for companies who use it more effectively and efficiently. Ninety-one percent of Gen Z says a company’s technology sophistication would impact their desire to work at a company.
Do you possess any quintessential qualities of a different generation?
Gen Z is most similar to Baby Boomers, specifically how we do projects and operate in the workplace. Baby Boomers used to be very competitive with one another because if they didn’t do the job well, there were 80 million others who could. We grew up watching Boomers work their butt off during an economic time that wasn’t great, and we’re very competitive because of it.
Which generation do you get along with most?
Other Gen Z-ers. More so than any other generation, Gen Z looks to their peers for advice — we don’t go to experts. We value so much the opinions of our peers. We’re also the most interconnected generation and are the most similar globally.
What should employers of Gen Z know about your generation?
- We are not Millennials. The events that shaped Gen Z in our formative years are very different than the events that shaped Millennials.
- The importance of money is back on the table. When asked what they’re looking for in a job, meaning is number one and money is number six for Millennials. For Gen Z, money is on the top of the list and meaning isn’t even in the top 10. We’ve seen the struggles the Boomers went through, so in our eyes, in order to sustain a good life, we need money. Then we can find meaning in a host of other things.
- Don’t assume we only like to communicate through technology. We have found that 84 percent of our generation prefers face-to-face interaction.
What are you reading?
Deep Work: Rules for Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport. I get all of my news from social media. For news updates, I use Snapchat. For content and videos, it’s Facebook and Instagram.
What is your superpower?
Running on no sleep. I get a solid four hours in and I’m fine.
What are you searching for?
The next big thing in our society.
A hybrid of Gen X’s work ethic and Millennials’ technology mastery, Gen Z is in a league of its own. To learn more about this generation and the impact it will have on the workplace, check out Jonah’s website, GenZGuru.com.
If you would like to hear Jonah Stillman and his Gen X father, David Stillman, speak about Gen Z in the workplace, visit our calendar for information on our upcoming event with the speaking duo.