Just when you’ve started to get your head around what makes the Millennials tick, the conversation on generations is changing.
Say hello to Gen Z.
Generation Z are those born after 1995. It’s tempting to think that they are like Millennials on steroids. But that is far from the truth. Gen Zers were raised in the midst of the Great Recession. They came of age in a time when the norm was same-day or next-day delivery of just about anything. True digital natives, they learned to swipe before they learned to talk. For half their lives, they’ve experienced an African American President.
Meanwhile, their older counterparts, the Millennials (born between 1980 and 1994) came of age in a time marked by 9/11 and other terrorist attacks, political scandals and computer technology starting to become second-nature.
Oddly enough, Gen Z has far more in common with their great grandparents, who came of age just after the Great Depression. And at 26% of the US population and outnumbering their Millennial counterparts by more than 1 million, Generation Z is important to get to know.
Just what exactly are the top priorities of this generation that is about to enter the workforce?
1. They are intent on finishing college and finding a stable job.
We might see more students graduate in the desirable four-year window, something colleges and universities will delight in. Their interest in finishing college is driven by practical motives. Most Gen Z college students are seeing college as a route to get a skill set that will enable them to be gainfully employed rather than a time to pursue a topic they are passionate about.
Many in this generation have seen their parents and close family friends lose investments, lose their homes and lose their jobs during the 2008 recession and its aftermath. According to a Goldman Sachs poll, Generation Z reported that finding a stable job was one of their top priorities and ranks job stability above travel, working out and spending time with family and friends.
2. They are thrifty and they save.
The same Goldman Sachs poll showed that Gen Zers are concerned with saving for the future and coming out of college with as little debt as possible. 71% of them report being focused on saving for the future and a full 60% of them have savings accounts. Their largely Gen X parents have taught them to save, much as their great-grandparents did with their children in a post-Depression world. Their focus on the future is backed up by their actions. A Youthlogix study reported that two thirds of Gen Z said they will take the time to go online and find a coupon for a purchase, compared with only 46% of Millennials.
3. They are inherently entrepreneurial.
From role models like Mark Zuckerberg and Evan Spiegel to YouTube stars such as Meg DeAngelis and Tyler Oakley, Generation Z was raised on entrepreneurial icons. One study cites as many as 72% of teens surveyed want to start their own business. Coming of age during the Great Recession has created an impetus to take control of their employment and financial future in an action-oriented manner. A 2015 US Census Bureau report indicated one third of Millennials were living with their parents. Generation Z is taking matters into their own hands and don’t want to be living in mom and dad’s basement. Ever.
In the coming weeks, the Working Conversation blog will continue its exploration of Generation Z, helping you communicate better with this generation and teaching them what they need to know to succeed at work. They’ll be joining your ranks before you know it.