Who, exactly, makes up Generation Z? If you often get them confused with the Millennial generation, you’re not alone. But the roughly 60 million members of the post-Millennial generation, born between the early/mid-1990s and the mid-2000s, have some marked differences compared with previous generations, according to The New York Times.
While we can’t expect to see those born in the mid-2000s holding down executive roles in the workplace anytime soon, we can expect to see more companies hiring the early 90s-born Gen Z-ers as interns and entry-level workers. As with most generations in the workplace, Generation Z comes with its own set of realities and misconceptions regarding their personalities and work ethic. Let’s look some of the most important ways Gen Z is influencing the workplace.
Gen Z at work
1. Gen Z truly “gets” technology.
The major difference between Millennials and Gen Z is that Millennials, along with previous generations, can recall a time before technology started to take off. Millennials probably remember dial-up Internet, flip phones, and buying cassette tapes and CDs. Generation Z consists of digital natives, who have no memory of this world at all because they were born into our existing technology.
As digital natives, Gen Z has a unique advantage in the workplace, particularly in terms of multitasking as employees. They can edit a photo on Instagram while listening to a podcast, answering a text message on their smartphone, and talking to a nearby IRL (in real life) coworker. It doesn’t mean that they are distracted or unable to do their jobs either. As employees, they can act as an army of one, able to conquer the duties that constantly swirl around them with ease.
2. They’re careful of their personal brand.
Gen Z has quietly observed how their Millennial predecessors have treated their social media presence, often with disastrous results. They’ve seen the drunk selfies, photos of rowdy parties, and general bad behavior captured through a smartphone that has been posted publicly to social accounts. Even if the person posting has included a disclaimer that their “posts do not reflect the company they are affiliated with” somewhere in their social media bio, the actions represented make it difficult to view the original poster in a professional light.
Seeing this play out has encouraged Gen Z to proceed with more caution. Their focus is on taking care of their social media presence in and out of the office. They can still post photos from concerts on Instagram, tweet about a cause about which they are passionate, or capture a trip to Hawaii on Snapchat, but if they’re underage, they’re probably not going to openly share evidence of themselves drinking or behaving badly. This sensible behavior means they may be less of a liability as employees in the workplace. It shows that they take their lives and overall career track seriously, on and offline.
3. They bring pragmatism.
If Generation X was considered jaded, and Millennials are known for their positivity, Generation Z is the realistic group of the bunch. They might have grown up with technology, which offers countless opportunities for helping people realize their goals, but Gen Z understands that tech is only one small aspect of a complicated economic landscape.
For this reason, a member of Gen Z is not likely to expect to be handed her dream job immediately after graduating from college. These young people are mindful of the fact that reaching a dream means working their way up, and that it is an investment of time, energy, and effort.
Even dream jobs are being replaced by jobs that provide more security. A member of Gen Z might want to become a famous actress and win an Academy Award. However, that same person may realize that she also has an interest in coding and will decide to learn more by signing up for coding camps. That person could find her calling in a career she didn’t realize suited her—or, she might dabble in both coding and acting classes to play off the simultaneous strengths.
Gen Z going forward
According to The New York Times, Gen Z is also poised to dominate another workforce: entrepreneurship. This is backed up by Forbes, which finds that Gen Z is 55 percent more likely to start a business than their Millennial counterparts.
They are great at multitasking (essential for a small business owner, who must wear many hats), careful of how they curate their brand and subsequently the brand of their business, and practical enough to go into fields where they can play to their strengths. Ultimately, the individual will need to consider the route that is best for her, whether it's going her own way, finding a seat that table of an established business or trying out both career paths.
Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and onTwitter @mycorporation.