Members of Generation Z were born from 1995 to 2012, and many came of age during the Great Recession, said David Stillman, co- founder of recruiting and retaining consultancy Gen Z Guru in Minneapolis. The experience has given them a competitive and survivalist mentality. Unlike many millennials, who seek a work-life balance, most Gen Zers prefer a work-life blend, meaning technology puts them always on the clock. They are also more independent than millennials, who tend to favor collaboration. Finally, because they have embraced technology from the crib, they are masters in the digital world.
“Here’s a generation that is ‘phigital,’” said Stillman. “Where the rest of us have blurred the lines between physical and digital, Gen Z sees no blur at all.”
Stillman, whose 18-year-old son Jonah Stillman runs Gen Z Guru with him, said Gen Zers are digital natives vs. digital pioneers. They expect a physical business to mirror its digital presence.
“It’s the first time in history where the youngest employee is an authority figure on something really important, and that’s technology,” said Stillman.
Stillman wrote the book Gen Z @ Work. Here are some key Gen Z traits he lists:
- They are entrepreneurial.
- They want a work-life blend, so they don’t turn off their phones after 5 p.m.
- They often have a “side hustle” and are proud of it.
- They demand transparency and honesty from employers.
- They are competitive, preferring a pay plan that rewards performance.
Also, “There’s no such thing as a participation award,” said Stillman. “They were raised by Gen Xers who told them there are winners and there are losers, and it’s a tough world out there. So they are very competitive.”
Hayden identifies with many of the characteristics, especially the entrepreneurial spirit and work-life blend, saying he often answers calls on his days off.
“If someone needs me, I’ll be there. This workplace is such a big part of my life,” Hayden said. “My name’s not on the building, but because of all the time and energy that I put in, I feel like I am a big and important part of what this place is.”
And he’s competitive, he said. Hayden joined Germain Honda in 2015 as a service porter. He worked his way up to his present job.
“I just started doing more and more in this area, and I got this position,” Hayden said. “I was competitive; I went out and tackled these problems.”