They're smart, conscientious, ambitious, and forward-thinking. And of course, they're the first true digital natives. Growing up in a world where information changes by the second, Generation Z — the generation born roughly after 1995 — is ready to take the workplace by storm.
As the group that follows the millennials, Generation Z — or "Gen Z" as they are often called — is changing the way we do business. They see the world through a different lens. Their passions and inspirations will define what they do for a career, and consequently drive many of their decisions about how they see themselves in the workplace. These are the managers, big thinkers, and entrepreneurs of tomorrow. What will America's businesses look like with them at the helm?
They'll encourage risk-taking
Laura Handrick, an HR and workplace analyst with FitSmallBusiness.com, believes the workers that will come from Generation Z are not limited by a fear of not knowing. "They recognize that everything they need or want to know is available from the internet, their friends, or crowdsourcing — so, they don't fear the unknown," she says.
Gen Z-ers know they can figure anything out if they have the right people, experts, and thought leaders around them. That's why Handrick believes they are more likely to try new things — and expect their peers and coworkers to do so, too. This could manifest itself as a kind of entrepreneurial spirit we haven't seen in years.
But they won't be reckless
While Gen Z is likely to encourage new ideas, most of the risks they'll be willing to take will be calculated ones. None of this "move fast and break things" mindset that has so driven today's entrepreneurs. After all, many of them grew up during the financial crisis of the mid- to late-2000s, and they know what happens when you price yourself out of your home, max out your credit cards, or leave college with $30,000 in student loans. Many were raised in homes that were foreclosed, or had parents who declared bankruptcy. Because of this, most of them will keep a close eye on the financial side of a business.
"Think of them as the bright eyes and vision of millennials with the financial-savvy of boomers, having lived through the financial crash of 2008," says Morgan Chaney, head of marketing for Blueboard, an HR tech startup.
Indeed, according to a survey done by Monster.com, 70 percent of Generation Z-ers say they're most motivated by money, compared to 63 percent of millennials. In other words, putting a Gen Z-er in charge of your business is not going to make it go "belly up." They'll be more conservative with cash and very wary of bad business investments. This generation is unique in its understanding of money and how it works.
Get ready for more inclusive workplaces
Chaney believes Gen Z managers will be empathetic, hands-on, and purpose-driven. Since they believe in working one-on-one to ensure each employee is nurtured and has a purpose-driven career path, Generation Z is going to manage businesses with a "people-first" approach.
This means the workplaces they run will be less plagued by diversity problems than the generations that came before them. "They'll value each person for their experience, expertise, and uniqueness — race or gender won't be issues for them," says Handrick.
Gen Z-er Timothy Woods, co-founder of ExpertiseDirect.com, which connects customers with experts in various fields, says his generation will be adaptive and empathetic managers, with a steely determination to succeed. "This generation is no longer only competing with the person in the next office, but instead with a world of individuals, each more informed and successful than the next, constantly broadcasting their achievements online and setting the bar over which one must now climb," he explains.
The 40-hour work week will disappear
Generation Z managers will also be very disciplined: Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed said they were willing to work nights and weekends, compared to 45 percent of millennials. Gone are the days of a working a typical 9-to-5 job. Generation Z managers will tolerate and likely expect non-traditional hours. "They'll have software apps to track productivity and won't feel a need to have people physically sitting in the same office to know that work is getting done," Handrick explains. "Video conference, texting, and mobile apps are how they'll manage their teams."
The catch? They have to feel like their work matters. According to the Monster.com survey, "Gen Z stands out as the generation that most strongly believes work should have a greater purpose." Seventy-four percent of Generation Z-ers surveyed said they want their work to be about more than just money. That's compared to 45 percent of millennials, and the numbers fall even further for Gen-X and boomers.
So, yes, they'll work hard, but only if they know it's for a good reason. And that's a positive thing. In this way, the leaders of tomorrow will merge money and purpose to create a whole new way of doing business.