Business & Real Estate

Differences separate Generation Z and millennials as they enter workforce

There’s a new generation entering the workforce, and it’s one that employers will need to prepare for, as it’s 23 million strong and will flood the job market by the end of the decade.

Generation Z, born in the mid- to late-1990s, primarily to Generation X parents, is a confidence-filled group that doesn’t want to miss a thing, has the shortest attention span of any generation and isn’t quite as open as its predecessors – the millennials. Born in the early 1980s through the mid-1990s, primarily to baby boomer parents, millennials taught Generation Z that not everything needs to be shared online.

“If you try to treat those in Generation Z like you treated millennials, it will backfire on you,” said Matt Stewart, co-founder of College Works Painting, a nationwide service with locations in the Bay Area. “This generation is unique. And now they are starting to enter the workforce.”

Stewart has gained a firsthand look at both millennials and Generation Z through College Works Painting’s internships, which aim to help undergraduate students gain real-life business management experience.

Generational gaps

Following are some differences between the two generations.

• According to best-selling author and generations expert David Stillman, you won’t find those in Generation Z frequenting Facebook or Twitter as much as their predecessors. Keenly aware of software monitoring, they are more likely to share their worlds on apps such as Snapchat or Instagram. Often dubbed “Digital Natives,” millennials are much more likely to share their lives in the open on platforms such as Facebook.

• Being culturally connected is more important to those in Generation Z than to millennials, with many more Gen Z-ers suffering from fear of missing out (FOMO) than millennials. Stewart doesn’t see this as a hard-and-fast rule, noting that the experience Generation Z employees gain at College Works Painting – and the impact they pride themselves on having – is much the opposite of FOMO.

• Those in Generation Z have grown up with smartphones, tablets and 3-D, 4-D and 360-degree photography, just to name a few of the tools at their disposal. According to Stillman, keeping the attention of a Gen Z-er is harder than ever. Their average attention span is 8 seconds, compared with the 12-second attention span of millennials.

• Millennials are driven to succeed by helicopter parents who watch their every move, while Generation Z finds encouragement from parents who promote independent thinking, want them to achieve on their own and are fed up with not receiving equal pay for equal success at work.

• According to Forbes, social entrepreneurship is important to Generation Z, a group that is driven to volunteer and choose a career in which they can make a difference. On the other hand, there are those who hope the millennials will become more civic-minded as they grow older, but it’s something that hasn’t been witnessed as of yet.

• Generation Z children were raised in classrooms that focused on diversity and collaboration. Despite this fact, they tend to be more private than millennials, perhaps as a result of watching the downfall of previous generations during the Great Recession.

• Because those who are part of Generation Z feel pressure to gain corporate experience early, they are competing with millennials, who are more likely to wait to seek that same type of experience. The good news for millennials, who are more likely to chase jobs in the corporate world, is that 72 percent of those in Generation Z wish to take what they learn and apply it to their own businesses, versus 64 percent of millennials with the same goal.

For more information on College Works Painting internships, visit

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