Gen Z in the Workplace Part I: What the Gen Z Worker Looks Like

Salary and benefits have always been key factors in attracting and retaining workers. However, the wants and needs of Generation Z (Gen Z) candidates—now the youngest in the workforce and born between 1997 and 2012—are very different from those of their parents and grandparents. Gone are the days of working for the same organization for your entire career and retiring with a pension plan. In fact, Gen Z workers typically spend just two years and three months at a job.

According to research from Roberta Katz, a senior research scholar at Stanford, “Generation Zalso known as Gen Z, iGen, or postmillennialare a highly collaborative cohort that cares deeply about others and have a pragmatic attitude about how to address a set of inherited issues like climate change.” What does the Gen Z worker look like in the workplace? 

  • Connected: Because they grew up with cell phones in hand, Gen Z is extremely tech savvy. They are used to getting information immediately and having it at their fingertips. Because they are very resourceful, they can figure out how to accomplish tasks on their own and prefer to work on individual projects as much as possible. This allows them to showcase their skills and abilities as a way to prove themselves to their manager.
  • Competitive: With their successes always on display through social media, Gen Z workers have a competitive nature and a fear of missing out and being left behind by their peers. They expect to move up in their career quickly. A survey from InsideOut Development found that 75 percent of Gen Z employees believe they should be promoted in their first year at a company and 32 percent think they should be promoted in their first six months.
  • Diverse: Considered the United States’ most ethnically and racially diverse generation yet, Gen Z are leaders within sexuality, religion, and gender diversity. When choosing where to work, 83 percent of Gen Z candidates feel that an employer’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is significant in their decision-making.    
  • Multitasking: Gen Z-ers are great at switching between different tasks and simultaneously paying attention to each. Because they have a short attention span, they can be hyper-focused as they absorb new information quickly and don’t waste time. They are not afraid of change which translates well to a business environment.

Having almost no memory of life before smartphones and growing up with the internet, Gen Z workers look very different than their older colleagues and managers. Taking the time to understand the workplace’s newest generation’s traits and preferences will help your organization create a culture that ensures they are engaged, happy, and productive.

Tips to successfully attract and retain Gen Z workers will be provided in part II of this blog series.

This blog was written by Broadleaf’s Senior Director of Client Delivery Allison Hallman.