Millennials vs Gen Z

by Adam Booth

I'd like to introduce you to Generation Z. No, they are not waiting in the wings in your local middle schools. They are graduating college as we speak and about to hit the workforce in a way that hasn't been seen since, well, 2010. On the surface these two generations look like they have more in common than what sets them apart. However, digging below the surface indicates that there are key differences between the people who were born at a time when the internet was becoming useful in everyday life and those who don't know anything else.  There are several differences that will impact how employers integrate Generation Z into the work force:

  • Economics
    • I graduated high school in 2008, the height of the economic collapse. I can honestly say with that in my mind, spending and above all savings, has become a priority, because frankly you don't know if it could all go away. A lot of my generation agrees. A survey reported by the Huffington Post points out that Millennials are over 33% more likely to hunt for bargains and coupons online than their Gen Z counterparts. It's not to say Millennials are frugal with their money, but Gen Z shows signs of a generation more willing to spend money. On the flip side, Gen Z is much more critical about the cost of higher education than Millennials.
  • Entrepreneurial Spirit
    • Because of recent economic uncertainty in the past decade, Gen Z looks towards the entrepreneur life more than has been done in the past. Economic self-reliance is a strong point for both Gen Z and Millennials.
  • Online versus Physical Connections:
    • Currently the number one way to search for a job in 2017 is through online sources and websites. However as trends go, Gen Z uses online less and physical interactions and connections more than Millennials. Within the next few years, colleges and job fairs will be once again the main avenue used in the hiring process, as it seems face to face communication is back on the rise.
  • Personal Information
    • Millennials were a part of the first wave of understanding that “privacy” as it was known in the late 80's was gone and that sacrificing personal information for the sake of convenience (shopping, downloading music, etc.) was the new normal. However Gen Z takes it to the next level by expecting that their sacrifice of information will be returned with a personalized experience.
  • Speed of Information Gathering:
    • Above all, Gen Z has higher expectations on how information and marketing should be conducted. Millennials remember accessing internet via dialing up connection. Even though it doesn't show up as much as the older generations would like, that taught patience, something that Gen Z has no time for. They're overrun with not only technology, but fast working at that. That has conditioned their minds to believe for slow loading of a webpage is a problem and not just a product of download speeds.
  • Attention Span and Boredom:
    • As you would expect, Gen Z tests as even less focused than their ADHD poster child predecessors. With the influences of Twitter and Snap Chat, this generation has been conditioned to not only absorb tons of information, but also to do it in lightning quick bursts. The art of sitting down and reading the whole article has faded away to the 140 character summary. There is beauty in impatience in the business world. But it’s not a practice that should be put into action all that often. If there is a wall Gen Z is going to hit in business, it's going to be that.

Gen Z has already begun trickling into the current work force. In the next five years, they will be well established. Now is the time to begin to educate Millennials and others in the organization about the strengths and challenges they will face as Gen Z arrives.  As with the Millennials, they will bring unique advantages and they will need to be motivated and inspired to help the organization of the future thrive in an ever changing global environment.


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