Getting the Most out of Life

Generation Z in the Workplace: Get Ready for the Digital Natives

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Move over, Millennials. Generation Z is hot on your heels. Also called the iGeneration, or iGen, this group of individuals is roughly defined as those born between the late 1990s and the present day. Millennials, who are in their late teens to mid-30s, currently make up the majority of the workforce, but advertisers are already looking at how to market to this younger demographic.

Two Different Types of Digital Natives

While both of these generations are said to be digital natives, there are some clear distinctions between them. Here are some ways in which Gen Z differs from Gen Y, according to in-depth interviews conducted by Deep Focus:

  • Gen Z would rather spend money on cool things than cool experiences like Gen Y.
  • Gen Z prefers brands to reach them via social media, whereas Gen Y prefers email.
  • Gen Z’s favorite website is YouTube. Gen Y’s favorite website is

Many Gen Yers remember when their family first got a computer, when they first set up an email address, and the first time they purchased and used a cell phone. Gen Z, on the other hand, has grown up with this technology as part of their daily lives. They are constantly consuming digital content, social media, and videos, often on multiple pieces of technology at the same time. Gen Y does, too, but not to the same extent, and not necessarily through the same platforms.

For example, Millennials’ preferred social media platforms are Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, while Gen Z prefers Snapchat and Vine, along with the aforementioned YouTube. Gen Z’s attention is drawn to visually appealing forms of media that are always changing and evolving, which means that Millennials will need to accommodate for these differences once this generation enters the workforce.

iGen in the World of Work

Generation Z’s entrance could mean an interesting shift in workplace dynamics. Gen Zers are often glued to their phones and are accustomed to communicating via text messages and social media; face-to-face meetings and phone calls could prove challenging for them. Generation Y will also have to make way for more shifts in technology as members of Generation Z become leaders in online collaboration, bringing a whole new meaning to “tech savvy.”

Even the way Gen Y works may differ from Gen Z. Millennials tend to prefer an open, unstructured workplace with lots of flexibility, whereas iGen may need a more structured, focused workplace, according to Knoll. Mentoring may play a key role in helping iGen adjust. In addition, Inc. recommends creating clear work objectives and guidelines as well as providing constant feedback and other communications. This generation is used to staying connected, after all. It’s also important to put their skills to use, tech or otherwise, and maybe even let them define their own job roles.

As with many young people, Generation Z values making a difference in the world. In fact, 60 percent of 14- to 18-year-olds who responded to a 2013 Intelligence Group survey say they want their careers to involve this value, so don’t forget to instill their work with a sense of purpose.

It is estimated that 30 million members of the iGeneration will be employed by 2019, so if you want to hire some of the best and brightest, keep these tips in mind.