The Top Advantages of Having Gen Z in the Workplace
The dawn of Generation Z has arrived, a tidal wave of youth and vigor ready to crash against the shores of the workplace. With their smartphones firmly clasped in their hands and a mindset of efficiency, innovation and equality, they're storming the professional world, leaving no stone dry and no rule unchallenged.
Every generation has its own quirks, and every time a cohort reaches the workforce, conversation around generational differences seems to surge. As with so many things, differences between the generations can be an asset toward more powerful innovation, creativity and collaboration if we take the time to think them through.
If you are Gen Z, you might not even realize how some of your qualities could be deeply valuable to other generations.
If you are a Baby Boomer, Gen X or Millennial, digging into some of the advantages of Gen Z in the workplace might encourage you to increase collaboration with this new cohort.
So, who is Gen Z? Understanding Generation Z in the Workplace
Generation Z stands for individuals born between the mid-1990s and early 2010s.1 They are the latest cohort of young workers to step into the limelight of the workforce. As the first true digital natives, growing up amidst the rapid advancement of technology, digital tools and widespread internet access, they bring a unique set of skills, perspectives and expectations to the table.
"It's like walking into a room full of LeBron James rookies ready to take the court," says Harry Johns White, marketing manager at NBA Blast. "The ambition in their eyes, it's contagious. These kids don't just want to be a part of the game, they want to redefine it."
Generation Z's arrival in the work world has been met with both anticipation and trepidation, as their disruptive/against-the-grain nature challenges traditional workplace structures.2 With their unparalleled technological prowess, entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to social causes, the new generation is poised to shake up the status quo.
Life happens fast. And, perhaps even faster if you're Gen Z.
Generation Z has come to age in an era of unprecedented technological advancement and societal transformations.4 Shaped by smart devices, social media and digital connectivity, Gen Z are highly adept at multitasking and navigating digital nuances. Blanket assumptions never really apply, but you can pinpoint some specific things rising out of this generation.
10 Things Gen Z workers tend to like:
- Work-life balance, remote work, job security and pay equity
- Collaboration and team-oriented environments
- Open communication methods and collective problem-solving
- Authenticity and social impact
- Workplaces that embrace innovation and change
- Technology that makes tasks more efficient
- Multiple jobs and great professional development opportunities
- Culturally and environmentally responsible workplaces
- Mental health resources
- Diversity in the workplace
The top 6 advantages of having Gen Z in the workforce
It’s one thing to round up some overall observations about this generation, but things get clearer when you see them in action. We asked hiring managers and business owners to weigh in on some of the good things they’ve noticed from their Gen Z employees.
1. Fresh perspectives and innovation
Generation Z's entry into the workplace injects fresh perspectives and a hankering for innovation. Growing up in a rapidly changing world, "they offer a unique perspective in the office," says Stefan Campbell, Owner of the Small Business Blog. "They help keep us older employees on our toes," she says.
Their unique ability to think outside the box and propose creative solutions to complex problems, along with their entrepreneurial mindset and willingness to take risks can drive innovation within organizations.
2. Technological expertise
Gen Z team members possess a natural fluency with technology. These younger workers are skilled at navigating digital platforms, adapting to new tools quickly and leveraging technology to streamline processes and enhance productivity.
Their technological expertise can help companies and senior leaders stay agile, embrace digital transformation and effectively utilize emerging technologies.
3. Adaptability and resilience
From a global pandemic and the Great Recession to school shootings and war – Generation Z has experienced and adapted to various societal and economic changes, making them resilient and adaptable employees.6 They possess the ability to quickly adjust to new situations, navigate ambiguity and thrive in dynamic work environments. Their flexibility and openness to change can help organizations navigate industry disruptions and stay competitive.
4. Diversity and inclusion focus
Generation Z places a strong emphasis on diversity, inclusion and social justice, in fact, so much that the World Economic Forum suggests Gen Z won't work for a company without diverse leadership.6
You see, Generation Z values equality and fairness, seeking environments that celebrate differences and promote inclusivity. Their presence in the workplace can foster a more diverse and inclusive culture, leading to improved collaboration, creativity and better decision-making – not to mention greater well-being.
5. Multitasking and collaboration skills
Raised in an era of constant connectivity, Gen Z has developed excellent multitasking and collaboration skills. Gen Z excel in team-oriented settings, leveraging their ability to communicate effectively across various digital platforms. Touted as the " most problem-solving generation ever,” their collaborative nature promotes knowledge sharing, synergistic problem-solving and efficient teamwork.7
6. Social and environmental consciousness
Gen Z is deeply passionate about social and environmental causes. They strive to make a positive impact on the world and seek purpose-driven careers. Employing Gen Z employees can help organizations align their values with social responsibility initiatives, strengthen corporate social responsibility efforts and enhance brand reputation.6
What changes will older generations see in the workplace with the introduction of Gen Z employees?
The introduction of the newest generation of employees into the workplace is poised to bring about significant changes and reshape traditional norms. Because of their deep understanding of technology and digital tools, Gen Z's integration into the workforce will accelerate the adoption of digital platforms and streamlined processes.
Their collaborative nature and preference for teamwork will foster a more agile and flexible work culture, emphasizing open communication, breaking down hierarchical barriers and promoting cross-functional collaboration.
Work-life balance will also likely take center stage as Gen Z places a strong emphasis on pursuing personal interests alongside professional responsibilities. To attract and retain Gen Z talent, companies will need to offer flexible work arrangements and prioritize employee's mental and physical health.
Interesting facts about Gen Z
Gen Z is the most diverse generation and best educated
According to a report from the Pew Research Center, the newest generation in the United States is reaching adulthood as the most racially and ethnically diverse generation in the country's history.8
According to the same report, they are on track to become the most educated generation to date.
How much of the workforce is gen z?
With Baby Boomers and Generation X reaching retirement age, a significant generational shift is happening. Johns Hopkins University predicts that by 2030, about 30% of the workforce will be Gen Z.2
What problems do Gen Z have in the workplace?
While Generation Z brings a range of valuable qualities to the workplace, they may encounter certain challenges as they navigate the professional environment. Some common barriers that Gen Z employees may face include:
- Limited experience: Due to their relatively young age, Gen Z employees will likely have limited work experience compared to other generations. This lack of experience can make it challenging for them to navigate complex workplace dynamics, make informed decisions and handle certain professional situations. (But that happens to everyone when first entering the workforce.)
- Communication styles: Gen Z prefers digital communication and can be reliant on technology, which can sometimes clash with the communication styles of more traditional workers who may prefer face-to-face or phone conversations. This disparity in communication preferences can create misunderstandings or barriers to effective collaboration.
- Balancing expectations: Gen Z has a desire for meaningful work, rapid career advancement and work-life balance that may clash with the realities of entry-level positions and organizational hierarchies.
- Adapting to traditional structures: Traditional workplace structures and hierarchies may feel rigid and outdated to Gen Z employees who are accustomed to more flexible and collaborative environments.
It is important to note that these challenges are not universal and can vary depending on the individual, the culture at work and the specific circumstances.
Employers can support Gen Z employees by providing mentorship programs, professional development opportunities, clear communication channels and a flexible work environment that aligns with their values and expectations.
Working together through generational differences
In a world where Gen Z is taking the job market by storm, the path is not without its hurdles and victories. With their digital prowess and fresh perspectives, Gen Zers offer a breath of fresh air to organizations.
If you were born into generation Z, you might be launching into a job search right now or considering career options. And you might already know the frustration of getting your foot in the door in the kind of career you want. If so, check out What’s the Deal With Entry-Level Job Experience Requirements? The Frustrating Truth.
1M, Dimock. Pew Research Center. Defining generations: Where Millennials end and Generation Z begins. Date accessed 6/29/23. https://www.pewresearch.org/short-reads/2019/01/17/where-millennials-end-and-generation-z-begins/
2Johns Hopkins University. Gen Z In The Workplace: How Should Companies Adapt? Date accessed 6/28/23. https://imagine.jhu.edu/blog/2023/04/18/gen-z-in-the-workplace-how-should-companies-adapt/.
3T Francis and F Hoefel. McKinsey and Company. ‘True Gen’: Generation Z and its implications for companies. Date accessed 6/29/23. http://www.drthomaswu.com/uicmpaccsmac/Gen%20Z.pdf
4United Way. The United Way of the National Capital Area. Generation Z Social Issues & Their Impact on Society. Date accessed 6/29/23. https://unitedwaynca.org/blog/gen-z-social-issues/
5World Economic Forum. Gen Z Demands Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace. Date accessed 6/29/23. https://www.weforum.org/videos/1-in-2-gen-z-ers-won-t-work-in-a-place-without-diverse-leadership
6C Coombs. Thred. A new survey by EY Ripples and JA Worldwide asked 6,000 Gen Z participants how they’d reframe business and education. The results indicate an optimistic and pro-active generation entering the work force. Date accessed 6/29/23. https://thred.com/hustle/gen-z-most-problem-solving-generation-ever-survey-finds/
7Columbia Business School. Social Enterprise Conference, Capital for Good. Date accessed 6/29/23. https://business.columbia.edu/socialenterprise/events/social-enterprise-conference-capital-good
8H Lo Wang. Pew Research Center via NPR. Generation Z Is The Most Racially And Ethnically Diverse Yet. Date accessed 6/29/23. https://www.npr.org/2018/11/15/668106376/generation-z-is-the-most-racially-and-ethnically-diverse-yet