How Much Do You Know About the Gen Z Workforce?

People born between 1997 and 2015 — known as Generation Z — are now entering the workforce in significant numbers. To recruit, train and retain the best of this new talent, you’ll need to know what makes them tick: how they job-hunt, their attitudes to work and what they want in an employer.

Here’s what we’ve learned so far from our research and first-hand experience with the new kids on the block.

Willing to work their way up

Unlike the Millennial and Baby Boomer generations who grew up in economic boom times, Gen Z spent their formative years during the Great Recession, with all its insecurities about the future. As a result, they are aware that they must work hard for their career rewards, and don’t expect things to be handed to them on a silver platter.

For employers, this means that they are more likely to accept entry level positions, and stay with a company for 10 years or more to earn their way up the career ladder.

Non-traditional educational credentials

Thanks to the skyrocketing costs of university degrees and crippling student loans, Generation Z is opting out of these routes at a greater percentage rate than ever since World War II. Some will go directly to work following high school, others will choose trade school or online school.

Rather than simply write off some 60% of the generation because there’s no B.A. or B.S. on their resume, employers must be prepared to offer additional on-the-job training, tuition assistance benefits, apprenticeships and similar programs. In fact, the majority of Gen Z’ers surveyed said they would give preference to a prospective employer who offered educational opportunities.

Digital denizens

This is the first generation that does not remember the pre-digital world at all. Their norms of behavior are not the same; for example, they will not understand an employer who refuses to allow cell phone breaks throughout the day.

One effect of Gen Z’s living online is that recruiters must be online as well in order to reach them. You can be sure they will be checking your employer brand on websites like GlassDoor, as well as your social media activity.

Training is most likely to be effective if it is delivered through digital channels. And you would do well to keep sessions to “snack-size” videos or interactive chats, as Generation Z has the shortest attention span ever recorded: 8 seconds (compared to 12 seconds for Millennials).

Yet another impact, noted by 92% of Gen Z themselves, is that technology may be harming their ability to build relationships with team members and supervisors. At the same time, HR leaders believe that “soft” (emotional and social) skills are increasing in importance. The solution may be to introduce a mentorship program, in which newbies can learn by watching experienced staff.

Whole life priorities

Generation Z expects more flexibility in work hours and location in order to accommodate family, leisure and other life commitments — a trend which has been significantly accelerated by COVID-19 lockdowns over the last year. The vast majority of employers will have to develop new solutions and compromises to the traditional on-site work week, or see their best talent walk out the door.

Even more than the Millennial generation, Gen Z’ers value social causes. They want to know that their work — through their employer — is contributing to a higher purpose. Review company policies and practices surrounding such issues as environmental protection and race/gender diversity. As well, be sure that your community initiatives are well publicized on your social media pages.

If you’d like more information or help with recruiting, hiring and onboarding Generation Z workers, visit or call 833-446-1300.


61 Million Gen Zers Are About to Enter the US Workforce and Radically Change It Forever by Chris Morris,

Gen Z @ Work by David Stillman and Jonah Stillman

Tips for Recruiting Generation Z by Roy Maurer,

8 Key Differences between Gen Z and Millennials by George Beall, Huffington Post

Generation Z Grows Up, research study by Universum Global

How SAP Plans to Recruit 7,000 Generation Z Employees by Ryan Jenkins