Generation Z Enters the Labour Market

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By Lori Jazvac.

Generation Z, born between 1995 and 2010, will be entering the labour market in astounding numbers in a few years. This transition will fundamentally shape our workforce.

About Generation Z

Thus far, recruiters have been focusing on attracting, recruiting, mentoring, and retaining the millennial generation. However, there are already a growing number of Gen Zs in the workforce, revolutionizing corporate cultures with their entrepreneurial values and innovative ideas. This is supported by a Gen Z and Gen Y Workplace Expectations Study conducted by Randstad. They found that Gen Z appears to be more entrepreneurial, loyal, and open-minded. In addition, they will be less motivated by money than millenials.

Generation Zs are more pragmatic and skeptical than their slightly older peers. Most are the product of Generation X parents, and stability will likely be very important to them. They may be both hardworking and fiscally savvy. It is reported that many share the experience of living in multi-generational households, which may help to navigate a diverse workplace.

Here are a few more relevant and interesting facts about Generation Z:

  • Generation Zs are “digital natives” who are constantly connected to social media and can adapt well to changing technology and continuous information overload.
  • They prefer to solve their own problems using social media (YouTube) before asking for assistance.
  • They place great value on the constructive feedback of their peers.
  • They are self-starters with a strong desire for autonomy.
  • 63% report that they want a college education that teaches about being an entrepreneur.
  • 42% expect to be self-employed during their careers; this percentage was higher among minorities.
  • Despite the high cost of higher education, 81% believe going to college is very important.
  • They experience considerable anxiety around debt, including student loan debt.
  • They are interested in receiving a solid education about managing finances.
  • They consider interpersonal interaction highly important to personal and professional success.
  • Just as their Millennial counterparts, communicating via technology, including social media, is far less valuable to them than face-to-face communication.

Implications & Future Trends

  • Flexible schedules will continue to grow in importance along with part time and contract work. Traditional “9 to 5” schedules will not be as common.
  • Generation Zs do not expect to remain with the same company for more than a few years.
  • They will likely adopt a variety of part time roles and be satisfied with this structure, so recruiters will need to adjust their schedules and goals.
  • Recruiters will need to be transparent about their needs. Their biggest challenge will be retention and offering more career focused benefits.
  • Recruiters need to be prepared to communicate using a wide variety of platforms and keep up with changing networks.
  • Companies need to re-evaluate their HR policies related to work hours and business norms. To attract the right talent, organizations will have to identify the particular values of this talent and demonstrate how they can help employees reach important career objectives.
  • Career practitioners will need to redefine their strategies and align their practices with the values and objectives of Gen Z in order to help them find engaging work, including growth-oriented professional development opportunities.

How the Numbers Rank

In a survey by Adecco Staffing, college students ranked these values in importance:

  • Opportunity for career growth (36%)
  • Fulfilling work (19%) – they want to have a positive impact on society
  • Stability (19%)
  • Friendly work environments (10%)
  • Flexible schedules (7%)
  • Highest salary (6%)


The ability of Gen Zs to effectively adapt to technology and the fast-paced, changing world will, indeed, impact the workforce. As a result, recruitment practices and career coaching will change in a profound way.

As Generation Z is still maturing, we don’t have all the answers. We can learn a lot from Gen Z by applying their values and perspectives as a compass to look at the changing world of work with greater flexibility and acceptance. Understanding and keeping updated on career trends, social media trends, and especially labour market trends enables career practitioners to support Gen Zs in leveraging lucrative career opportunities.

Generation Z Resources

What Gen Z’s Arrival In The Workforce Means For Recruiters
How will Gen Z disrupt the workplace?
Employers, prepare to meet Gen Z


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With all of the challenges and confusion that today’s multi-generational workforce faces – and is having difficulty dealing with – the claim that Generation Z is ready to enter the workforce is a disservice at best. The approximate duration of a “generation” is 20 years. This is loosely based on the peak reproductive cycle of human beings. The Harvard Center even created a “Generation Y” that reaches backward into the Generation X age cycle and encompasses the entire Millennial age cycle (30 years!).
Now, in order to create a tempest in a teapot, you’re suggesting that Generation Z (in reality, currently about 10 years old) be dated from 1995? Why? So that you can create issues where they don’t exist? Instead of dealing with the issues facing the existing generations?
Another reality that we – and business – face today is that each successive generation following the Baby Boomers – or possibly, even the Traditionists (pre-1947) – are maturing later in terms of responsible adulthood. As such, they are having more difficulty in entering and succeeding in the workplace.
The positive attributes of recent generations – and very possibly the next generation in 10 years – is that they bring a wealth of technological knowledge, social conscious, and environmental awareness as they grow up. What they are missing is the maturity, self-discipline, responsibility, and accountability that typically referred to as “soft skills” or “work ethic”.
To suggest that this Generation Z is entering the workforce is a misdirection and a disservice on a monumental scale.

Thanks for your thoughtful post, Stephen. I’m not sure I entirely agree with you.

This news piece was a direct result of a Gen Y and Gen Z Global Workplace Expectations research study conducted by Millennial Branding and Randstad.

As career practitioners, we may not agree on the name/term that we use, but clearly many of us are now working with clients who were born between 1995 and 2010.

We may not all agree on projections from futurists, but we can agree that this demographic has specific strengths and will encounter certain unique challenges. For us to do our job well, it is important for us to make efforts to learn and understand our clients’ needs and research such as this helps us gain this insight.

Hi Stephen and Sharon,

I think you both raise excellent points.

Stephen, current workplace demographic challenges do need to be addressed. Ageism is rampant. There often aren’t business-focused programs that bring the best of the Boomers, Xers and Gen Y skills and expertise together. It is easy to fall back on stereotype and assumptions – about work ethic, technology adoption, etc., that leads to bad strategy. All generations are needing to learn to navigate in this new more “freelance” economy and we haven’t figured it all out for the generations that are firmly entrenched in today’s workplaces.

Sharon, I appreciate the “advance intel” on Gen Z. I have started to gain an appreciation for how this generation is different from Gen Y through the experiences with our own interns and exposure to current high schoolers and early 20s contacts.

To me, the value of this research and report is in the reminder that some changes we experience in the workplace (like the introduction of technology) is enduring and others (such as what motivates members of the workforce at various moments in time) may fluctuate. Shifting entire strategy to focus on a short term motivation can lead to long term instability.

This report and others indicate that certain things may change from cohort to cohort and that tailored solutions matter – but only when the strategy is built on a foundation strong enough to allow the enduring needs and interests of all generations to flourish, including those that are just on the cusp of entering the workforce.

It’s about strong, long term strategy and smart front line managers who know how to best support, motivate and manage their staff – at any age.

Very thoughtful comments, Lisa. I can’t wait to hear more from you on this topic at the upcoming CAREERPRO 2016 Virtual Career Development Conference.