- The next generation to enter the workforce, Generation Z’s digital upbringing uniquely impacts their perspectives on work and life.
- Born and raised in the age of digital technology, Generation Z has never known life without cell phones or the internet.
- New research by Knoll reveals key insights into this generation and their views toward life and work.
Often referred to as “digital natives,” Generation Z comprises about 20 percent of the population in the U.S. and Canada and will soon surpass Millennials as the largest generational cohort globally.
However, they aren’t simply “young Millennials”. They represent the dawn of a truly new generation, and their differences show up in their views on both life and work, according to new research from Knoll.
Spanning from 10 to 25, the oldest Gen Zers have begun to enter the job market and are expected to leave a major impact not only in the workplace, but on the world.
With their unique perspective and passion for making a lasting difference, Knoll sought to understand Generation Z – born between 1995 and 2010 – collectively and as individuals.
“Our goal was to learn more about the motivations, aspirations, communication and work preferences of this newest workplace generation since they will inform the decisions we make in terms of logistics and work culture,” explained Kylie Roth, Knoll, Vice President, Research.
“Our hope is to better design and plan environments and implement strategies that speak to the unique needs of Generation Z as well as in combination with the desires of the other generations in the workplace.”
Speaking with more than 60 Gen Zers from across the United States generated some interesting findings and moving conversations, according to Roth.
“Our analysis not only gave us insight as to what might inspire them in the work environment, but also showed that despite the differences in their world, they are very much like us in many ways. There is no ‘one thing’ that defines them; rather, they each have issues and activities they are passionate about,” she explained.
The research also revealed some intriguing commonalities.
“As we conducted and parsed this research, some common themes emerged,” added Carolyn Cirillo, Knoll, Manager, Workplace Research. “We identified these ideas as the 5Gs: Gaming, Gigs, Gender, Giving and Green,” she said, adding that each “G” speaks to the passions and preferences of Generation Z.
“We also spoke to them about how recent events had affected their outlook. While we are all experiencing trying times, we think hearing from these amazing young people will reassure faith in the future,” she added.
Portrait of Generation Z
Gen Z is the most ethnically diverse generation in U.S. history — 48 percent identify as non-White — as well as well-educated. One in two will have a college education, up almost 20 percent in just one generation. They’re also mobile — and are predicted to work 18 jobs, have six careers, and live in 15 homes in their lifetime.
They spend 7½ hours a day in front of a screen, multi-tasking with an average of five devices/platforms at once. But technology is not just for fun — it’s also for connecting with classmates and teachers, posting philanthropic or entrepreneurial ideas, and more.
And with their first-hand experience in environments where equity, diversity and inclusion are the norm, they have similar expectations for tolerance in their future workplace. They are unashamed and open about coping with depression, anxiety and neurological differences ranging from ADHD to spectrum disorders, which will carry over into their working environments, too.
The 5Gs of Generation Z
Applying lessons learned from the 5Gs that Knoll identified — Gaming, Gender, Gigs, Giving and Green — serves to inform the future of workplaces, the researchers noted.
- Gaming: Video gaming has seen massive growth in the last ten years. Gamification is being applied to learning experiences and non-digital settings, creating positive effects on motivation, happiness and productivity — skills Gen Z can use in their future workplaces.
- Gender: Generation Z is the most racially and ethnically diverse generation yet. The majority of Generation Z believe in equal rights between men and women and are supportive of equal rights for transgender people. And, when it comes to mental health and neurological differences this generation has a greater openness about their symptoms and struggles.
- Gig: Gen Zers exemplify the gig economy. Low barriers to entry and an adeptness at learning new skills online has simplified starting businesses that range from Etsy shops to fashion vlogs. But not all Gen Zers want to start their own company. Many in Generation Z will seek to use their skills and innovative approach within larger organizations.
- Giving: According to data from the VIA Institute on Character, Kindness has the second highest average character strength for Generation Z. Honesty is number one. This cohort recognizes the privileges in their own lives and there is no doubt that giving back is at the heart of Generation Z.
- Green: Multiple studies have found that the environment is one of Generation Z’s biggest societal concerns. From recycling and reusable straws to divestment and conscious consumerism, Generation Z makes environmental issues a priority. As they have committed to these values in their personal lives, we can expect they will bring these ideas and values into the workplace.