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11 Things to Know About Gen Z Workers

Gen ZJust when you thought you were beginning to understand Millennials, it’s time to prepare for Gen Z to enter the workforce and they’re very different from their predecessors. Born between 1994-2010, this generation is known by many names—Post-Millennials, iGeneration, Founders, Plurals, Homeland Generation and Gen Z. Just like the generations before them, the characteristics of Gen Z are shaped by parenting trends, historical events and technology.

Gen Z are the children of Gen X, a cohort that was thought to be skeptical and perhaps even cynical in their youth as they came of age post-Watergate and post-Vietnam. Yet, Gen X has grown up to be balanced and healthy despite facing the strains of the Great Recession of 2008. As parents, Gen X have been concerned about raising their children in a safe environment, which has led Gen Z to be more cautious than previous generations. Other major influences shaping their development and world views include the Great Recession, the War on Terror, the first African American president and the legalization of gay marriage. But, probably the most significant factor is the advent of the smartphone.

Gen Z is considered to be the first truly digital native generation; they haven’t known a world without the internet or smartphones. Because they have grown up in a highly connected world with access to a variety of devices (i.e. smartphones, tablets and laptops), Gen Z has a shorter attention span than previous generations. But on the flipside Gen Z has learned to process information quickly and they are experts at efficiently multitasking. They move quickly between tasks, rapidly sort through large amounts of data and do so with multiple distractions, all traits that could benefit their employers.

Other things to note about this generation:

  1. By 2021 it is estimated that Gen Z will represent 1/3rd of the U.S. population and 1/5th of the workforce.
  2. They view themselves as global citizens and value diversity.
  3. Growing up during a recession has made them more frugal and they value experiences over things.
  4. Gen Z is entrepreneurial in nature, hardworking and want a more independent work environment.
  5. They value privacy and are aware of their personal brand, which results in the cautious use of social media.
  6. Gen Z is pragmatic, mature and they value being in control.
  7. They are independent learners who are experienced at online research. When Gen Z wants to learn something new they often turn to YouTube to watch a tutorial.
  8. They are conscientious, hardworking and mindful of the future. With cautious tendencies, they will likely choose sensible careers with job security.
  9. They are interested in having multiple roles in the workplace instead of multiple workplaces.
  10. Gen Z seeks mentorship and coaching.
  11. They prefer face-to-face communication in the workplace.

As you prepare to welcome this generation to the workforce, it’s important to recognize that they will view their smartphones as an essential workplace tool, one they will use for on-demand learning, finding information and processing data. Employers who recognize the importance of this device to Gen Z workers and can leverage their need to stay connected stand to gain the most value from this hardworking, goal-oriented generation.

Jennifer Gardner, Manager --  Communications and Social Strategy, Member Learning & Competency, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants

Gen Z courtesy of Shutterstock

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