Generation Z (Gen Z)

Definition of Gen Z Generation

Definition of Gen Z Generation

Generation Z refers to individuals born between 1997 and 2007. This range is not strictly defined, as academic studies and research by companies in different countries sometimes use 1996, 1999, or 2000 as the starting year for Generation Z. The end of this generation and the beginning of the next one is often considered to be around 2009, 2010, 2012, or even later.

Where did the name “Generation Z” come from?

The name “Generation Z” continues the alphabetical naming pattern of previous generations, X and Y.

Other names for Gen Z Generation

There are several specific terms used to describe Generation Z, proposed by researchers, such as:

  • Abbreviations: Gen Z, Zs, Gen Z'ers;
  • Time-based divisions: Big Z (1995–2002), Little Z (2003–2010);
  • References to previous generations: Post Gen, Second Generation (children of immigrants), Post-millennials, Centennials (people born and living in the new century), Throwback Generation (signaling a return to programs watched by previous generations), Gen Next, Generation 1.5;
  • Characteristics, especially related to online activity and technology: Connected, Generation C, iGeneration, I-Gen, Gen Tech, Gen Wii, Net Gen, Digital Natives, Meme Generation, Net Kids, Web Kids, Earbud Generation;
  • Recurring nationwide events not experienced by previous generations: Mass Shooting Generation, Homeland Generation (regarding administrative changes after September 11, 2001);
  • Specific socio-demographic situations: Plurals;
  • Impact on the future of the World: Founders (as a counter to generations damaging the planet), Delta Generation (referencing the mathematical term for change), Hopeful Generation, Anxious Generation.

Characteristics of Generation Z

  • Generation Z comprises approximately 1.3 billion people aged 14 to 24. It is estimated that in a few years, they will make up about 25% of the global workforce.
  • This is a generation of contradictions, differing in many ways from millennials. They are defined by the recession era, a global pandemic, an unpredictable world economy, rapid technological advancements, and ongoing climate change.
  • Gen Z individuals are ambitious, pragmatic, and highly productive, making it challenging to capture their attention. They value and save money, often using the Internet for market research before making purchases more frequently than other generations.
  • They demand simplicity and seamless processes, viewing automation as an opportunity to engage in more creative work that robots cannot perform.
  • Gen Z is optimistic about their abilities, unafraid of challenges, inventive, and skilled at networking. Over 75% of respondents in surveys by EY and JA Worldwide reported knowing how to listen and collaborate with others, solve problems, participate, express their ideas, and enjoy creative activities.
  • However, even Gen Z has its concerns. 30% of them feel financially insecure, and 56% live paycheck to paycheck. The cost of living is their primary concern, followed by climate change, unemployment, mental health, and crime / personal safety.
  • Additionally, 56% of Generation Z believes companies should prioritize society over profits. They are disillusioned with the status quo and see themselves as agents of transformation, striving for inclusivity, equal economic opportunities, and social justice.

How to manage talents from Generation Z?

Employees from Generation Z require a new type of management. They are more flexible, but also value work-life balance more than previous generations. They also seek interesting development opportunities. Here are the key aspects to focus on.

  • Company values and organizational culture. Gen Z needs a sense of purpose to feel professionally fulfilled. In a Deloitte survey, 86% of Gen Z respondents indicated that a sense of purpose at work is important for their job satisfaction and well-being. They prefer to work for companies that share their beliefs or ethics. In fact, 44% of respondents declined a job offer due to ethical concerns, and 50% rejected tasks or projects based on their personal beliefs.

Employers should clearly communicate their values (Employer Branding) and emphasize this aspect during recruitment. A well-configured ATS system can help select candidates whose beliefs align with the company's values.

  • Work-life balance. Generation Z places a strong emphasis on mental health and work-life balance, which are crucial factors when choosing an employer. According to surveys, 56% of Gen Z employees feel comfortable openly discussing stress or anxiety with their supervisors. However, only 51% rate their mental health as good or very good, and 40% feel stressed all or most of the time. Key stressors include lack of recognition for their work (51%), long working hours (51%), and insufficient time to complete tasks (50%). Some also mention a lack of control over how and where they work (44%).

Employers should take employee well-being seriously and provide adequate support for mental health. Senior leaders should share their experiences, as 27% of Gen Z employees express the need for this type of leadership. Additionally, analyzing company processes and implementing task automation can save time and reduce stress.

  • Modern work tools. Technology and communication are crucial elements for Generation Z. 89% feel confident using technology.

Employers should ensure continuous connectivity and convenient team communication, allowing Gen Z employees to choose IT equipment that suits their preferences. This autonomy provides comfort and builds a positive work environment and enhances the company's appeal to potential candidates and top talent.

  • Professional development. Gen Z respondents want to advance their careers and improve their financial literacy. They prefer a mix of virtual and in-person learning, gaining real-world work experience, and having mentor support.

Employers should offer learning programs to develop essential skills, using platforms like LMS, and provide mentoring through recurring one-on-one meetings.

  • Employee benefits. Having witnessed their parents face the 2008 recession and experiencing economic instability due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Generation Z values additional employee benefits. Transparency in pay is crucial, and they are generally more open to discussing salaries than previous generations.

Employers can address these preferences by being open about compensation during recruitment and offering benefits such as:

  • Flexible work schedules, remote work options, additional paid leave;
  • Customized workstations, snacks, fitness/wellness programs, tailored discount packages for services or products;
  • Opportunities to participate in community projects (volunteering);
  • Subsidies for insurance, tuition, professional courses, etc.
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