How Younger Generations Are Shaking Up the Workforce

Generation Z has been described as the most globally aware generation ever. However, since Generation Z refers to individuals born in 1994 or after, you may be wondering how much of an impact could workers this young be having so soon on the workforce?

Jim Link, Chief Human Resources Officer for Randstad North America, notes that Generation Z is already making a significant impact on employers, as it is expected to make up 36% of the global workforce by 2020 and 44% by 2025.

There is no question these younger employees are coming of age amidst a time of transformative technological change. On a recent XpertHR webinar, Link noted that 53% of Generation Z workers said in a poll they would rather give up their sense of smell than an essential tech item like their iPhone. Just think, 20 years ago:


  • Having a camera in a phone sounded as likely as a television in your freezer;
  • Tweeting was something only a bird did;
  • Texting was rudimentary at best;
  • There were no such things as “selfies” and “GIFs” (let alone Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram); and
  • A troll was only a very ugly creature that scared people crossing a bridge.

And yet despite Generation Z never knowing a world without instant communication, employers who think that means they can rely on texting and Skype when communicating with younger workers are in for a rude awakening.

In fact, Link stresses that Generation Z and Millennials both still crave in-person communication and collaboration above all else. This typically includes an expectation of feedback after every assignment, project or task.

A Randstad study revealed that the preferred communication methods for Gen Z and Millennials are as follows:

  • 39% in-person communication;
  • 16% email;
  • 11% phone; and
  • 10% instant message (followed by the ubiquitous “other”).

A few other notable findings Link points out is that these two younger generations may not actually want to work for you at all, or anyone else for that matter, in noting that 37% of Gen Z workers and 32% of Millennials aspire to be a leader at a company they start or own. When those lofty goals are coupled with the need for regular communication and feedback, the result can be a rather transient workforce.

So what can employers do to keep Gen Z and Millennials happy?

According to Link, the number one step you can take is to encourage workplace flexibility. “The ability to work anywhere, any time and at any hour is important to these workers,” said Link. Given that flexibility, Link suggests that Gen Z and Millennials generally will repay their employers with more loyalty.

Another key step is that age-old motivator, money! Link notes that many employees from both generations are facing financial stress stemming from massive student loans. Providing solid healthcare coverage along with a strong compensation package can go a long way toward retaining these workers.

Link concludes by pointing out that the US is falling behind in the global race for talent, so knowing what makes younger employees tick is critical.

For more insights from Jim Link on the top methods for managing younger employees, listen in to our latest XpertHR webinar.


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