Gen Y and Gen Z Global Workplace Expectations Study

Nov 13, 2014 11:35 AM ET

Gen Y and Gen Z Global Workplace Expectations Study

Millennial Branding recently released the results of a study that focused on workplace preferences of both Generation Y (ages 21 to 32) and Generation Z (ages 16-20). There were some interesting findings that could influence how companies approach prospective employees down the road. The results showed that Gen Z is more entrepreneurial and less motivated by money, and more focused on face-to-face communication compared to Gen Y.

According to Dan Schawbel, founder of Millennial Branding and Author of Promote Yourself, the study reveals other attributes that distinguish Gen Z and Gen Y employees. “Gen Z has a clear advantage over Gen Y because they appear to be more realistic instead of optimistic, are likely to be more career-minded,  and can quickly adapt to new technology to work more effectively,” Schawbel said. “Additionally, since Gen Z has seen how much Gen Y has struggled in the recession, they come to the workplace better prepared, less entitled and more equipped to succeed.”

Entitled “Gen Y vs. Gen Z Workplace Expectations,” the study queried approximately 1,000 individuals from each generation across 10 countries: the United States, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, South Africa, Sweden, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

Here are some of the results from the survey:

If you’re the leader, be honest

  • Take note business leaders: One-half (52%) of both Gen Z and Gen Y state that honesty is the most important quality for being a good leader.

  • The generations agree that after honesty, leaders should exhibit a solid vision (Gen Z 34%, Gen Y 35%), followed by good communication skills (Gen Z 32%, Gen Y 34%).

Let’s talk. In person.

  • Contrary to the assumption that younger workers want “constant connection” to technology, a majority of Gen Z respondents say they prefer in-person communications with managers (51%), as opposed to emailing (16%) or instant messaging (11%).

  • The same trend applies to Gen Y: in-person (52%), emailing (18%), instant messaging (11%).

  • And few believe that technology actually enhances personal relationships with co-workers (Gen Z 13%, Gen Y 14%).

Technology is a distraction

  • Slightly more than one-third (37%) of Gen Z ranked instant messaging as the biggest work distraction, followed by Facebook (33%) and email (13%).

  • Gen Y reports being most distracted by email (31%), Facebook (28%) and instant messaging (25%).

And not all of us like to multitask, after all

  • When asked if they like to multitask, just over one-half (54%) of Gen Z responded in the affirmative, while two-thirds (66%) of Gen Y said yes.

  • Gen Z is not as inclined to work in a fast-pace environment: 59% of Gen Z report liking a fast pace, while 68% of Gen Y says the same.

Lifers aren’t the norm anymore

When asked about the number of companies they expect to work for during their lives, both generations clearly expect to switch employers several times, but Gen Z indicates that they plan to work for four companies compared to Gen Y’s five.

But then again, maybe I’ll stick around

Employers have an opportunity to build employee retention and loyalty by addressing the different factors that motivate each generation to work hard and stay on board with their employer.

  • For Gen Z, one-third (34%) are most motivated by opportunities for advancement, followed by more money (27%) and meaningful work (23%).

  • Gen Y is primarily motivated by more money (38%), opportunities for advancement (30%) and meaningful work (15%).

  • Least important for both groups is having a good boss (7%) or working for a fast-growing company (6%).

Getting the work done

  • According to the research, approximately four-fifths of both Gen Z and Gen Y like to work with technology to help them accomplish their goals (Gen Z 77%, Gen Y 81%).

  • Both state a strong preference for being hands-on with projects (Gen Z 76%, Gen Y 81%).

  • Gen Z and Gen Y both selected a corporate office space as their top work environment; however Gen Y (45%) has greater preference for a traditional office than Gen Z (28%).

  • Notably, the generations’ second choice of work location is a co-working space that operates independently of the employer (Gen Z 27%, Gen Y 26%), and Gen Z shows a slight preference for a home office (Gen Z 19%, Gen Y 13%).

What I like about you

When asked to associate certain stereotypes with their peer group, both feel their own generation is creative, open-minded and intelligent. However, when asked to rate stereotypes of the other generation, the groups show a difference of opinion:

One thing is certain: both Gen Z and Gen Y know what they want - and what they don’t want - when it comes to choosing that first gig. One way to make a good match is to create a profile on - a recruitment service designed to match prospects with companies that would be good fits. Since both groups want control over their own destinies, 1stGig gives you complete control. When there’s a 100% match, it’s up to you to make a career connection. It’s easy and for a limited time, it’s free to join. Use that creativity today to set the stage for your future.