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Moving "Generation Z" Into the Workplace

"Gen Z" workers entering the work force grew up on electronic devices. Credit: Jerry Oster
"Gen Z" workers entering the work force grew up on electronic devices. Credit: Jerry Oster
August 3, 2015

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - They're the first generation that has only known a life filled with cell phones, the Internet and social media, and now Generation Z is entering the workforce.

"Gen Z" describes people born between 1990 and 1999, and new research by Robert Half, a human resources consulting firm, and Enactus, a nonprofit organization, predicts by 2020 more than 20 percent of the workforce will be comprised of people in that age group.

Paul McDonald, senior executive at Robert Half, says those employees will be valuable.

"They grew up as digital natives," says McDonald. "These digital natives are going to be very effective, and are proving to be very effective in the workforce today, because technology is table-stakes for every position that we're seeing in the professional sector."

McDonald says contrary to what you might expect, 74 percent of respondents prefer face-to-face communication and almost half prefer a private office versus an open floor plan that's become popular in many office environments.

In the survey, 41 percent of Gen Zers said a midsize company would be their ideal work environment, followed by large organizations as a secondary preference. A small percentage would like to work for a start-up. McDonald says that could have something to do with their experience with the Great Recession.

"They went through the financial crisis, saw their parents and grandparents have to work longer or go back to work," he says. "They saw 9-11. They saw the tech bubble burst."

McDonald says Gen Z'ers expect to work for an average of four companies throughout their lifetime. One in three would like to retire by age 60, but only 17 percent think that will be possible.

Jerry Oster, Public News Service - SD