Millennials vs. Gen Z Employees
For decades, the Baby Boomer generation ruled the workforce, but that has been coming to an end. Boomers started retiring from the workforce in 2008 and will continue to do so through 2031.
As Boomers leave in droves, these two younger generations are moving in:
- Millennials are those born between 1980 and 1995. They are currently the largest workforce generation in the United States.
- Generation Z are those born between 1995 and 2010. According to financialexecutives.org, more than 61 million members of this generation started entering the work force around 2018.
But who are these generations? How are they different from each other? What do they want from employers and what can employers expect from them?
Empire Resume looks at Millennials vs. Gen Z employees and breaks it all down.
Millennials vs. Gen Z: Education and Training
The costs of higher education have been skyrocketing, so many Gen Z’ers are foregoing college altogether in favor of teaching themselves what they want to know.
They’ve got all the knowledge in the world right in their hands. They enjoy watching videos, taking online tutorials, and downloading textbooks to their devices. This approach to education is in sharp contrast to Millennials, many of whom went on to pursue MBAs to advance their careers.
From a recruiting standpoint, employers will need to consider dropping degree requirements from job postings in order to attract talent from Gen Z. When it comes to job training, Millennials may be content to take formal, in-person classes. Those in Gen Z will be much happier with self-paced online tutorials and an array of professional development tools that they can pick and choose from.
Millennials vs. Gen Z: Technology
You may think there’s no difference between Millennials vs. Gen Z when it comes to how tech savvy they are. However, keep in mind that Millennials may have been exposed to advanced technology at an early age, Gen Z has never lived without the internet.
Both Millennials and Gen Z’ers seek out employers who can offer them advanced technology and software solutions to help them get work done faster. The difference is that Gen Z, having grown up with the internet, social media, and streaming services, have developed a keen filter. They know within seconds whether they’re going to pay attention to something or scroll by.
This means that workplace leaders must shift the technology they use to communicate. For starters, assume that neither Millennials nor Gen Z will read an email, so employers shouldn’t try to communicate important company news that way.
Using instant messaging is a good start and may reach the Millennials who prefer this way of communication. For Generation Z, however, companies need to create communications that are even more direct.
For example, many companies are using digital signage to communicate to their workforce. Digital signage is short, eye-catching and straight to the point, so it’s more likely to penetrate Gen Z’s filters.
Millennials vs. Gen Z: Work Style
Millennials had a different school experience than older generations. The emphasis for them was on group work, collaboration, and problem-solving. In the workplace, you’ll find that Millennials love teamwork, collaboration, brainstorming, and “workshopping ideas.” It comes naturally to them.
Gen Z, on the other hand, takes more of the “if you want something done right, then do it yourself” approach. Their ability to use technology to approach problems means they would much rather put in some earbuds, sit in their own workspace, and knock out a project.
That means workplace leaders shouldn’t think poorly of Gen Z employees who’d rather not jump at the chance to join a group project. Many organizations can support both Millennial and Gen Z workstyles by providing both private workspaces and areas of collaboration.
Another common characteristic among Gen Z’ers is that they’re not afraid of failure. In a survey conducted at last year’s EY International Intern Leadership Conference, 80% of the Gen Z participants said embracing failure often leads to future innovation.
That’s good news for employers. Employees who aren’t afraid to fail will bring ideas forward, take ownership of projects, and work quickly when failure does happen. Leaders in the organization should give Gen Z’ers the autonomy to see their ideas through, but also give frequent feedback to ensure they’re learning the right lessons along the way.
Millennials vs. Gen Z: The Commonalities
Sure, these two generations have their differences, but they do have a lot in common as well. Understanding the motivations that they share means that employers can create workspaces that are attractive to most of the workforce in just few short years.
One big commonality is that both Millennials and Gen Z want flexibility in their jobs. The ability to work remotely or work non-traditional hours is important.
It’s not that they’re too lazy to come to an office building. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. They’re acutely aware of how much more productive they can be if they don’t have to commute and are not confined to sitting at a desk, in an office building, for 40 hours a week. In their minds, having access to technology means they can virtually be in the office anytime.
Employers should be ready to invest in technology that makes remote work and videoconferencing as seamless as possible. It also opens the pool of talent employers can draw from if they are open to remote positions. They no longer have to limit their search to local candidates. Their search can go national or even worldwide.
It’s also important to both Millennials and Gen Z’ers that the company they’re working for is making a positive social impact. Employers should publicize their charitable giving, social programs, and volunteer efforts.
Employers may also give employees 1 to 5 “volunteer” days each year on top of their paid time off (PTO). Employees can use these days to volunteer at an organization of their choice. This can go a long way in showing that an employer wants their employees to do good in the world.
Millennials vs. Gen Z: The Bottom Line
Millennials and Gen Z’ers will be in the workforce for decades to come. Keeping generational differences and commonalities in mind can help employers create environments where all employees can do their best work and feel successful.
Ben St. Jacques is a Senior Copywriting Manager that is a regular contributor to Empire Resume’s blog. Ben has a strong background in corporate communications, developing newsletters, copy editing, and copywriting for a wide range of audiences.