Meet Gen Z, The New Millennial

The generation after the millennials promises to effect more change in the workplace than any of its predecessors.


With millennials figured out, Gen Z is the next generation to dissect, discuss, and worry about. Its members were born after 1998, grew up in post-9/11 America, and differ immeasurably from previous generations, says Goldman Sachs.

At nearly 70 million in size, for now, this generation will soon outnumber millennials. Its oldest members  are just entering college, which means in four short years they’ll join a workforce and economy that is already in a relational and technological transition. And this generation promises to spur greater change.

In a Dec. 2, 2015, article, Business Insider reviewed the implications of a note sent to clients from Goldman Sachs. The note read, in part:

“Raised by Gen-X parents during a time marred by economic stress, rising student debt burdens, socio-economic tensions and war overseas, these youths carry a less idealistic, more pragmatic perspective on the world. Born device in-hand, Gen-Z is America's first generation of true ‘digital-natives’ and they will be America’s most diverse to-date (first to be majority non-white).”

The note continues by stating the time has come to focus on Gen Z, rather than millennials, because this new generation “promises to be just as, if not more, influential.”

More influential, for two reasons.

One, as the first generation to be majority non-white, its members are not only diverse but also “hold a more positive view of the rising ethnic diversity in America than prior generations,” specifically in regard to race, gender, and sexual orientation.

Two, Goldman believes Gen Z will be more financially conservative than its predecessors. These individuals grew up in a time of economic stress and are cognizant about incurring student loan debt — which hamstrings many millennials and causes nearly 20% of 25-to-34-year-old men to live with their parents.

What Matters To Gen Z?

In 2014, Millennial Branding and Randstad US released a worldwide study comparing Gen Z to Gen Y, fielding responses from 1,005 Gen Z-ers from ages 16-20 in the United States, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, South Africa, Sweden, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.

The results highlight differences between the generations.

“Gen Z has a clear advantage over Gen Y because they appear to be more realistic instead of optimistic, are likely to be more career-minded, and can quickly adapt to new technology to work more effectively,” says Dan Schawbel, founder of Millennial Branding in the report. “Additionally, since Gen Z has seen how much Gen Y has struggled in the recession, they come to the workplace better prepared, less entitled, and more equipped to succeed.”

Here are 5 takeaways from the report:

1. Honesty And Openness Go A Long Way

  • 52% of Gen Z respondents state that honesty is the most important quality for being a good leader.
  • After honesty, 34% of Gen Z respondents believe leaders should exhibit solid vision followed by good communication skills (32%).

2. Gen Z Craves P2P Interaction

  • A majority of Gen Z respondents say they prefer in-person communications with managers (51%) over emailing (16%) or instant messaging (11%).
  • Just 13% believe technology actually enhances personal relationships with co-workers.

3. Distractions From Social And Multitasking Distaste

  • 37% of Gen Z respondents ranked instant messaging as the biggest work distraction, followed by Facebook (33%) and email (13%).
  • When asked if they liked to multitask, 54% of Gen Z said "yes."
  • 50% of Gen Z report liking to work at a fast pace.

4. Finding A Job

  • Gen Z respondents expect to work for four different companies during their working lives (Gen Y respondents said five).
  • In terms of professional motivations, 34% of Gen Z respondents are most motivated by opportunities for advancement, followed by more money (27%), and meaningful work (23%).
  • Least important for Gen Z respondents were having a good boss (7%) or working at a fast-growing company (6%).

5. Work Life Preferences

  • 77% of Gen Z respondents like to work with technology to accomplish work goals.
  • 76% state a strong preference for hands-on projects.
  • 61% desire managers to listen to their ideas and value their opinions. But 46% desire managers who allow them to work independently (Gen Y reported 56% and 58% respectively).
  • 65% say the people they work around would enable their best work.
  • 38% have an interest in personalizing their own workspace.
  • 36% believe facility location is important.

So what can credit unions make of this?

For all the justified rumblings about the wants and needs of the millennial generation, there exists a potentially more influential and innovative generation on the horizon. Credit unions, meet Gen Z.


Jan. 14, 2016


  • Great piece Erik. Beyond Gen Z, we currently have three other generations with their own unique set of work habits, expectations, requirements and demands. As managers, we always seek to ensure that a diverse group of people referred to as "the workforce", performs most effectively and at their highest level, right? In order to improve workplace effectiveness, we need to allow people a choice of where they can perform their work activities, design the proper workplace environment in which one can collaborate and perhaps most importantly, allow access to executive leadership for guidance, training and mentoring opportunities. As a majority of the Credit Union industry's leadership teams transition to the next phase of their careers (i.e. retirement) over the next 5-7 years, the importance of a high performance workplace really starts to demonstrate its value when viewed as a tool for staff retention, staff recruitment and leadership development.
    Bob Saunders