As more Gen Z workers enter a workforce increasingly dominated by Millennials, it’s essential to understand how workers from both generations view work and approach tasks. Each group has been shaped by the innovations and challenges they grew up with.
In this blog, we’ll look at some of the defining characteristics of Gen Z and Millennials in the workplace, how they differ, and how their unique traits and experiences enhance the workplace.
What is Gen Z?
Gen Z, or Generation Z, is a demographic term for anyone born between 1997 and 2015. This generation grew up with technology and has never experienced a world without the internet, social media, or smartphones. Highly independent, Gen Z is generally aware of economic, environmental, political, and social issues and integrates activism into their daily lives.
Millennials were born between 1981 and 1996, with the oldest millennials in their 40s. This was the first generation to use the internet, have mobile devices, and face the economic hardships of student loan debt and a global recession. Millennials watched the development of many new technologies and watched them become obsolete.
Gen Z and Millennials in the Workplace
Gen Z and Millennials share main characteristics in common, but their differences are noteworthy and can significantly affect how they work together. Understanding these differences as a manager can help you improve your whole team’s ability to collaborate and perform.
Millennials grew up with the pressure to go to college. At the same time, Gen Z pursues knowledge and skills through less traditional methods such as online tutorials, online classes, and real-world experience.
While both groups are comfortable with technology as a part of daily life and work, Gen Z was raised in it. Millennials are eager to learn and adapt to new technology while still retaining the capability to work at high levels without it. Gen Z workers are “digital natives” and find it more difficult to “unplug” when needed.
Millennials grew up understanding that some forms of personal expression, including piercings, tattoos, clothing, and hair color, could prevent them from landing a job. Gen Z, on the other hand, is more likely to value expression over advancement and gravitates toward company cultures that are more casual and open.
Workers within Gen Z have a shorter attention span than millennials. While younger millennials grew up with the same technology as Gen Z, it was less pervasive. Gen Z is used to a bombardment of information, so processing a great deal at once is their strength, while focusing on a single subject is more difficult.
Though these differences, and others, exist between Gen Z and Millennial workers, they create a strong dynamic of experience and innovation in the workplace that improves the mindset and productivity of the entire work team.
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