Gen Z...What Makes Us Tick?

As Gen Z starts to join the workforce, don’t confuse us with Millennials. While the two generations have much in common, the young up-and-comers have their own slew of characteristics—for better or for worse! You be the judge. Here is some insider knowledge on how you can best accommodate and work with this new generation in the office.

Although much of the Gen Z stereotype is not realistic, the stigma around our impatient nature is entirely accurate—in almost all aspects of life. Not only do we love having on-demand, two-day shipping and instant gratification at our fingertips, but we also have high expectations for our pace of life. We start internships and jobs at young ages and value career opportunities over making money. For example, many students elect for unpaid internships to build their resume or experience in their preferred industry. Compared to other generations, we shoot to be in our dream job right out of the gate and haven’t exactly grasped the whole concept and reality of a “starting salary.”

Since we look for a fast-track to our ideal position, Gen Z tends to job hop. Not to be confused with a lack of loyalty, we get bored easily and need to stay engaged and entertained, as well as experience different surroundings. Take me, for example: At the age of nineteen, I have already had eleven jobs!

We value flexible schedules and ask for mutual respect in this regard. While I can’t speak for all of my peers, most of us respect your time and show up when we need to, but also ask that we can get time off when we need it and can have input on our schedules.

As our generation is most known for, we were basically born playing on our smartphones. This makes us extremely easy to train on technology—and fast learners, too, as technology and trends evolve!

Our tendency to always be “plugged in” has also dubbed us as natural multitaskers. We are used to doing five things at once and need lots to do at all times to keep us occupied. This is both a good and bad quality, as it means we can handle a lot at once, but we also have a little more difficulty focusing on one project at a time.

We don’t place as much importance on mission statements or business declarations. In a world plagued by “fake news,” we look for what people and organizations actually DO rather than what they say – we know that facades can be deceiving.

One trait that is pretty consistent among people of my generation is that we all struggle with “FOMO.” Fear of Missing Out is an obsession with always wanting to be included, involved, and fully knowledgeable of what’s going on. Although usually most applicable in social situations, aided by the constant flow of Instagram photos, Snapchat videos, and Find-My-Friends tracking features on our phones, this characteristic follows us into the workplace. We prefer being in the loop on projects and company happenings so that we aren’t left out of any news.

Similarly, we crave frequent interaction. This may include daily feedback, check-ins, and constant communication. We’re used to snapchatting our friends hundreds of times a day, so being trapped in cubicles without a phone or a way to interact with others is enough to make us go stir-crazy. As embarrassing as it is to admit, it is difficult to ditch my phone for my abbreviated 8-3 workday. Being in meetings or situations where I can talk with others helps keep me sane.

Gone are the days of sharing a room… or anything, really. Gen Z wants ownership—of projects, of workspace, and of titles. This helps us recognize responsibility and makes us feel more valued knowing we have a physical spot and hold weight at our workplace.

Since we are used to shortening our messages to 140 characters or a simple hashtag, we are conditioned to say things in few words. Gen Z generally needs more training on professional, formal business communication. Our tendency to cut straight to the point might not always be appropriate or grammatically correct in certain situations. I fall guilty of skipping warm greetings and closures in my emails in order to cut out any unnecessary writing.

Contrary to popular opinion, we Gen Z-ers still care about face-to-face communication. We know the hardships that can come of electronic interaction, such as misunderstandings that stem from lack of context or lack of body language. While we find huge value in technology, we also don’t fail to recognize the importance of real-world connections.

The next time you come across a Gen Z, try not to think of us as self-obsessed, technology-crazed zombies. Remember that, although we love our Instagram likes, we really are a passionate generation; we’re all looking to change the world by fighting for our beliefs and aspirations. Although we may approach life differently, there’s a lot that we can learn from other generations. What will you learn from us?

Article written by:

Alex Schweitzer

Marketing Intern