Gen Z and Millennials Join Forces to Shape the Workplace

Posted By Terri Williams on September 20, 2016 at 9:34 am
Gen Z and Millennials Join Forces to Shape the Workplace

It’s no secret that Gen Z and millennials are game-changers in the workplace. They’ve already helped reduce the stigma associated with job-hopping. Their focus on work-life balance has forced companies to rethink the traditional workweek. And they’re just getting started. As more college grads enter the workforce, millennials and Gen Z will continue to shape the workplace.

A recent report, a collaboration between Randstad, Future Workplace, and Dan Schawbel, shed light on the preferences, expectations – and problems – of the two youngest generations in the workforce. Selected responses from the report are below.

When it comes to the best way to communicate, millennials and Gen Z are in unison:

39% In person communication
16% Email
11% Phone


What’s the most important quality in a leader?

Millennials Gen Z
Communication Communication
Supportive Supportive
Honesty Honesty
Approachable Confidence
Confidence Approachable


The most important employee benefit among both generations:

19% Work Flexibility
17% Healthcare
14.5% Training and Development


How both generations would like to incorporate technology to shape the workplace:

41% Social Media
27% Wearables
26% Virtual Reality
20% Robotics
18% MOOCs (massive open online courses)
14% Augmented Reality


Millennial managers are facing the following challenges:

29% Resolving conflicts
28% Negotiating
27% Managing Other People
22% Working with older people
22% Working on a team

How millennials and Gen Z shape the workplace

Both generations are shaking things up on the job as they shape the workplace, and Kristin Kelley, chief marketing officer at Randstad North America, tells GoodCall, “Their expectations and preferences are different from any generation before them – and in many ways Gen Z appears to be an exaggerated version of the millennial cohort.”

Kelley says companies that want to attract workers from these generations will need to rethink their recruiting and retention strategies.

Disdain for working in certain industries

Both generations are most likely to want to work in technology (45%) and education (17%). They are least likely to want to work in telecommunications (4%), insurance (3%), and energy/utilities(3%).

Kelley believes that these attitudes may be a result of having little to no exposure to or familiarity with these industries.” We encourage those sectors to view this as an opportunity to put their industries front and center for these younger workers.”

However, the preference for technology is obvious. “Many Gen Z and millennials have never known life without technology, which is why that sector ranked highly – and many respondents also indicated that they want more technology in the workplace, further showing that technology is important to them and makes them feel more comfortable in a corporate environment,” Kelley says.

Flexibility over healthcare

Healthcare is quite expensive, yet millennials and Gen Z said it was not the most desired employer benefit. Kelley explains, “While the survey respondents did not reveal why health insurance is a lower priority in terms of employer benefits, we do know that work flexibility has been a growing trend and growing in importance over the past few years.” In fact, she says this is a non-negotiable benefit among these two generations.

Performance reviews

It also appears that millennials and Gen Zers are making the annual performance review a thing of the past. “One of the big findings from the study was that younger generations want feedback regularly, instead of annually, monthly or even weekly,” Kelley says. In fact, “Almost half (46 percent) said they would ideally have a manager who acts as a mentor and gives them quality feedback regularly,” she says.

And there’s a reason they want advice and instruction on a regular basis. Kristina Jokinen, vice president of direct hire, Adecco Staffing, tells GoodCall, “Young people are hungry for career advancement, so it makes sense that younger generations would prefer regular performance feedback – be it positive or not – so that they continue to develop their skills and make progress in the workplace.”

As a result of social media, Jokinen says they expect dialogue that is transparent and honest. “It’s natural that this mindset would carry over to the workplace, prompting greener employees to seek out real-time input from managers – they want to know where they stand so they can adjust their work habits as needed in order to advance.”

Challenges facing millennial managers

As millennials continue to climb the ranks at work, Kelley says one of their biggest challenges is dealing with corporate politics and handling stress. “Additionally, 27 percent said their education did not prepare them for managing other people, so millennials will need help overcoming these challenges, and quickly, in order to find success as their careers progress.”

Terri Williams
Terri Williams graduated with a B.A. in English from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her education, career, and business articles have been featured on Yahoo! Education, U.S. News & World Report, The Houston Chronicle, and in the print edition of USA Today Special Edition. Terri is also a contributing author to "A Practical Guide to Digital Journalism Ethics," a book published by the Center for Digital Ethics and Policy at Loyola University Chicago.

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