Millennials vs. Gen Z: 5 Key Professional Differences


Gen Zers talking while on laptops


Laura Berlinsky-Schine
Laura Berlinsky-Schine
June 14, 2024 at 2:5AM UTC
Move over, Millennials. There's a new generation in town—or rather, in the workforce.
The oldest age group of Generation Z (the Post-Millennial Generation), a term that describes people born in 1995 or later (depending on whom you ask), is starting to graduate college and enter the working world. By 2020, they'll make up roughly one-third of the U.S. population.
Baby Boomers and Gen Xers may still be wary of the Millennials in the office, but now they will have to reckon with an even younger generation and its new way of doing things.
Here are five important ways the Millennial Generation and Generation Z tend to differ in the professional landscape:
1. Gen Zers are competitive.
According to Forbes, the Millennial Generation values teamwork and collaboration. Generation Z, meanwhile, thrives on competition. These young adults want to get ahead. They are hard workers, but they expect rewards for their input.
On a similar note, Generation Z prefers working independently, as opposed to Millennials, who value collaboration and teamwork.
2. Gen Zers know how to multitask.
While Millennials came of age when new technologies and social media were newly emerging, Gen Zers had these tools at their disposal well before they became young adults. In 1995, the year the oldest members of Gen Z were born, just 14 percent of U.S. adults had access to the Internet, according to Pew Research Center. By 2014, when they were starting to go to college or enter the workforce, 87 percent had access—and it wasn't the dial-up internet Millennials faced as kids.
As so-called "digital natives," they are used to doing many tasks at once—watching the TV while taking notes, doing work with Facebook running in the background, checking their phones for updates while on their laptops, and so on. This means there is less of a division between work and home life. That's not necessarily a bad thing; in fact, it can mean that they will ultimately be able to get more tasks done. It also doesn't mean they have a short attention span; many workers may briefly check their phones before returning to work without losing flow.
3. Gen Zers prefer face-to-face communication.
A survey conducted by Gen Y research and consulting firm Millennial Branding found that 53% of Gen Z members surveyed prefered face-to-face communication over online tools like Skype, email or texting.
This could be due to the digital natives vs. digital pionners divide. Members of Generation Z grew up with the digital tools Millennials didn't have until college or later. It also might be the result of seeing the consequences of Millennials becoming overly reliant on technology. Whatever the reason, this will mean the need for more in-person meetings in the workplace as opposed to Slack and email discussions.
4. Gen Zers want to be entrepreneurs.
Members of Generation Z are 55 percent more likely to want to start their own business than millennials are. Additionally, 72 percent of high school students said they want to start their own business someday, according to Millennial Branding
What does that mean for employers? These young people are likely to bring a strong work ethic to their full-time jobs, because they want to learn as much as they can in order to someday work for themselves. At the same time, employers might want to consider incentivizing young workers to stay longer by setting up loyalty programs.
5. Gen Zers are more pragmatic than Millennials.
Often accused of being coddled and overly optimistic, Millennials grew up during the economic boom and enjoyed the advantages the time period brought. Meanwhile, Gen Zers were children when the Great Recession occured, while the youngest Millennials were in high school and the oldest had been in the working world for several years.
The recession, of course, had a tremendous impact on workers, job security, and the financial well-being of people around the world. According to Salesforce, seeing the impact of the recession on their parents and other adults made Gen Zers more money conscious and focused on saving than previous generations.
They also seek security, so making them are aware that their job is stable is a good way of keeping them around longer. In return, Gen Z employees are likely to be very hard workers to prove their value.

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