Hello Gen Z

It may seem like we only recently began talking about and understanding the millennial generation (1981–1996), and there may still be insights to glean to continually improve the way we engage that cohort—but look out for Generation Z. Those born after 1996 comprise the next wave of people beginning to enter the workforce. And, Gen Z may be looking for work sooner than employers expect, as many in this cohort are deciding to skip traditional college education rather than taking on student loan debt.

As employers prepare to welcome Gen Z into the workplace, they are starting to develop engagement strategies aligned with the values and needs of this new group of employees. Here are a few Gen Z traits to consider in your planning:

1. Financial security is paramount

With the great recession, many in this group have witnessed financial struggles. Therefore financial security and stability are important to them. They prefer having a steady job, and are less likely to take risks.

2. Desire work/life balance

Gen Z cares about making a difference, similar to their millennial counterparts, but are more motivated by work/life balance—ensuring they have a secure life at work, and a secure and healthy life outside of work.

3. Competitive and independent

While the millennials are team-oriented and prefer a group-think approach to their work, Gen Z is more competitive and prefers to work independently with their work evaluated on its own merits versus aggregated with a team’s results. Their independence also comes through in their approach to work, not wanting to depend on others. Gen Z prefers their own office space rather than open collaborative workspace as well.

4. Skilled multi-taskers and digitally connected

Switching between different tasks and paying simultaneous attention to a wide range of stimuli comes naturally to them. This cohort has always lived in a digitally connected world. They’re used to constant updates from dozens of apps, and engaging in multiple activities at once.

5. Prefer face-to-face communication

Gen Z prefers communicating face-to-face versus flat email. This could be because their hyper-technology environment includes communication tools such as Skype and FaceTime, enabling them to visually engage with their friends and family.


To help meet the needs and expectations of the various generations—from Baby Boomers to Gen Z—employers need to embrace flexible, personalized and targeted engagement strategies that can resonate.

Offering educational tools and resources through multiple channels will increase in importance to help meet the changing needs of a workforce.

Sources for this article: Forbes, “8 Ways Generation Z Will Differ From Millennials In The Workplace,” September 2017; Pew Research Center, “Defining generations: Where Millennials end and post-Millennials begin,” March 2018.