Millennials vs Gen Z: Why Employers Need to Know the Difference

Mar 24, 2020Employers & Hiring Managers0 comments

6 Trends Millennials and Gen Z are Re-shaping the Future of the Workforce

When millennials came into the workplace, it marked a significant change in how employers managed this new workforce. In recent years, there was a common misperception that Gen Zers and millennials were identified as not committed to the workplace, as work-shy, and that they expected too much freedom from their employers. Both generations have strong connections to the Internet and social media. Most millennials are in their 30’s now, and Gen Zers are born between 1997-2012. Even though they share a few similarities in terms of workplace mobility and flexibility, there are some significant differences between the two generations. Understanding each generation’s preferences and practices in the workplace can help to create an environment where employees of all ages can communicate better, stay engaged, and be productive. Here are the major differences.


Technology & Communications

Both millennials and Gen Zers were raised in an era of advanced technology. One group grew up watching the innovations come onto the scene, while the other was immersed in it from day one. Gen Zers are the first generation of true “digital natives”―they have access to endless WiFi, smartphones, and tablets. Cutting edge and user-friendly technology for both millennials and Gen Zers are at the top of the list with their employers. Gen Zers grew up in a world where options are limitless, but time isn’t. That’s why they rely on trusted content curators to collect the most relevant news and condense it in digestible chunks. While millennials are okay with chat and instant messaging, Gen Zers favor interactive and easy solutions to stay connected to their workplace, and get all the information they need to be productive. While the Gen Z digital native enjoys technology to communicate, it is not their preferred method in the workplace. According to a recent survey from LinkedIn Learning, only 50% prefer texting to co-workers.


Work Attitudes & Habits

Whether the judgment is right or wrong, millennials are perceived as “job-hoppers” or “job-switchers.” Millennials are not just seeking new jobs; they identify with a “portfolio career,” where it’s an excellent opportunity to try and learn something new while achieving self-improvement and developing new skills. With their ability to always find new jobs, this confidence gained allows them to expect and demand more. By contrast, “Gen Zers are seeking to grow within an organization, and are more likely to look for different roles within one organization rather than to look to the next one,” says Monica Hall, Director of Business Development for the social career platform Goodwall.

As with millennials, there is this perception that Gen Zers are following suit. According to Robert Half’s research in the US, it was found that 77 percent of Gen Zers have the following work ethic: they will have to work harder compared to those of the past generations. This attitude comes from a generation experiencing an economic crisis, watching parents lose their jobs, or struggle to find new ones. Millennials appreciate the opportunity to collaborate and work in a team. Gen Zers, diversely, take a more solo approach to completing tasks than their millennials counterparts. Another characteristic of Gen Zers is the belief that failure is not disastrous. According to a survey last year from EY International Intern Leadership Conference, over 80 percent of the Gen Z participants felt that embracing failure will help them to be more innovative in the future. They are persistent and determined. “If they have an idea they want to accomplish, they will buckle down and work until the task is completed,” says Dianna Anderson, CEO of Cylient.


Education & Training

Investing in school or skills training is of commonplace importance to both generations. They are career-minded individuals driven by higher education and career growth. Gen Zers differ in that they are not willing to take on as much student debt as previous generations. Members of Gen Z are passionate about self-driven learning and independent research. A third of Gen Zers report they watch lessons online and 20 percent download textbooks onto their tablets. With this kind of desire for self-directed education, Gen Zers will be attracted to employers who provide opportunities for on-demand training via eLearning software and online professional development tools. On the job training classes are okay for millennials, but unappealing for Gen Zers.

Gen Zers―the first generation of digital natives―are radiating outward influencing trends and behaviors in the workplace. Technology continues to give young people an unparalleled degree of connectivity among themselves and with the rest of the world. These shifts bring both challenges and attractive opportunities for employers. At Wirkn, we know and understand these challenges when it comes to recruiting millennials and Gen Zers in the retail space workforce. That’s why we are the first to create an innovative recruiting platform to capture these opportunities.