If you’re under 35 it’s very likely you’ll be tagged as a Millennial. It’s easy to get swallowed up by that group. Too often people refer to me as a Millennial, without any doubt or hesitation. It’s no wonder I was terribly confused when I discovered that I was possibly being thrown into the wrong group. Generation Z is typically composed of those born between 1995 and 2010, putting me right at the beginning and on the edge between a Millennial and Gen Zer. Gen Zers might look and act very similar to Millennials, but they have their differences. A study conducted by BridgeWorks estimated that “Gen Z accounts for 61 million people in the U.S.” that is larger than Generation X and two-thirds the size of the baby boomers [1]. Understanding these youngsters early on can help organizations prepare for the changes they will bring about.

I got my first cell phone at the age of 10, and believe me, convincing my parents did not come without a “Do you know when I got my first cell phone?” This was a significant change from the previous generation. It goes to show how technology became embedded to our everyday lives at an early age. We grew up in a world in which information was readily available and up-to-date, and where connections with people around the world can be instantaneous and strong. We experienced one of the worst economic downturns and watched the impact of the financial crisis on our parents. These are some of the events that contributed to the behaviors that now characterize Gen Zers. Although it may seem Gen Zers are barely entering the workforce, many are beginning to work at early ages. Here are a few things to note about Gen Zers at work.

1. Diversity is Nothing New

Gen Zers’ exposure and connection to people all over the world makes encounters with foreigners or different cultures nothing out of the ordinary. They welcome diversity and quite frankly almost demand it in the workplace. I often find myself fascinated by different cultures and people. The frequent exposure to multiple cultures helps us communicate more effectively with those from different backgrounds.

2. Texts Come With Wait Times

Technology surrounds our day-to-day routines and impacts how we communicate heavily. It has enabled us to move away from texting to actual face-to-face interaction. Whether it’s through Snapchat, Facetime, or Skype we typically prefer a form of in-person conversation. We’re honestly terrible texters, or maybe it’s just me and those around me, but I’ll admit I’ll put off texting. Yet, I will rapidly respond to phone calls or a Snapchat. This also makes it easier to maintain multiple tasks.

3. Thing One and Thing Two… Maybe Three and Four

When you’re constantly bombarded with updates and information that demands your action or attention, you have to learn how to take it all in at once. We’ve learned to process information very quickly especially with our short attention spans. This makes us excellent multitaskers. Our multitasking abilities allow us to get more than one task done at once, while also process all the stimuli thrown at us. We are able to get the job done, whether on a bus ride home or while watching TV, we make sure we deliver.

4. We’re Always On the Grind

The rise of remote work has made it easier for us to get things done even if we’re away from our desk. Sometimes we’ll prefer to get work done from home or in hours outside of 9 to 5. The availability of information has also made it easier for us to self-teach ourselves new things or concepts. We’re also not afraid to reach out to others who might have better insight or experience. If we don’t know something we don’t worry, we’ll figure it out. We’re resilient and that’s why we are very entrepreneurial!

5. We’re Looking for Stability

We like to think of ourselves as unique and find ways to stand apart. When choosing a job or career, we look for opportunities that will conform to our individual needs. Those needs will often take the form of company culture and values, growth opportunities, or financial security. Contrary to Millennials who are more passion-driven, we do tend to prioritize financial stability. We’ve seen the struggle and impact of the recession on either family or people close to us. This has also made parents engage kids at earlier ages about finances, money, and debt.

Not every generalization will apply to each individual, seeing as we each have unique traits. But being familiar with how Gen Zers differ and the behaviors that define them can help leaders prepare for how they will shape the workplace. It might seem like it’s still early, but they’re arriving quicker than you think. So move over Millennials and get ready to welcome the new kids on the block.

This blog post is part of a series of installments on generational diversity in the workplace.

  1. Being a Working Boomer
  2. Lost Between a Polaroid Print and Snapchat Filter
  3. Why are Millennials So Interesting? A Millennial on the Millennial Generation
  4. Generational Diversity in the Workplace
  5. The New Kids On the Block