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How Gen Z focused is your organization How Gen Z focused is your organization?

So much has been written and said about Millennials that it’s easy to lose sight of the fact the next kids on the block are about to enter the global workforce. Born after 1996, Generation Z is expected to become highly influential given their size (over 2 billion globally) and annual purchasing power (estimated at $44 billion in the US only). In our Who’s up NXT global study where we compare the needs and desires of four different generations (Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y and Gen Z), we zoom in on what makes Gen Z stand out and what this means for the future of work.

Hot tweetawayHot tweetaway: The needs and desires of 4 different generations insit.es/1U9nPDL by @Joeri_InSites @kristofdewulf via @CoolBrands #mrx #nextgen

More inner-focused and realistic

Compared to GenYers, GenZers take a more individualistic and realistic perspective on life. This is not surprising when we take a closer look at where these digi-social kids come from. While GenYers were raised by group-minded Baby Boomers, GenZers have been nurtured by the more individual GenXers. This has made for a drastic difference in parenting styles, with Gen-X parents rating inner-focused qualities such as hard-working, confidence, independence and organized higher, and outer-focused qualities such as honesty, respectfulness, trustworthiness or ethical lower, compared to their Baby Boomer counterparts. With Gen-X parents having experienced a significant rise in the number of divorces, they try to focus strongly on family values, strive to teach their children about classic concepts like work ethic, etiquette and resilience, and feed them a harder sense of realism.

While GenYers were always encouraged to follow their dreams and aspire to become anything they wanted, GenZers instead got the advice to focus on becoming great in something at which they actually have skill. Rather than the everyone wins attitude that was taught to GenYers, GenZers have been raised to become the best at something to be considered a winner.

Reflect on how your organization can become more fluid and flexible in order to deal with the individualized needs of this generation. Spend more time to explain and sell regulations when they are in place: Gen Z does not just accept what is said to them, they need to believe the policies and see the relevance themselves. Create an environment where they can ask questions and get career advice and feedback all the time. They want mentors rather than managers, because this is the type of relationship they had with their own parents. Value their creativity, opinions and insights: they feel a boss can learn a lot from them as well.


A study from Microsoft Corp. has shown that the attention span of the average American has been reduced to just eight seconds, just two seconds more than the maximum length of a video on the popular short video platform Vine and one second less than the notoriously ill-focused goldfish. The snappy way in which GenZers approach life consequently implies that companies have to compete for a spot in that short attention span, even more so than with other generations. Generation Z loves to snack on different little chunks of entertainment. They enjoy quick bursts of communication. Popular platforms of these tech-savvy consumers only allow very short-length content to be posted, in some cases simply disappearing after a certain amount of time or a certain number of views. This renders the communication short, ephemeral and exciting to GenZers.

Hot tweetawayHot tweetaway: #GenZ wants short, ephemeral and exciting communication insit.es/1U9nPDL by @Joeri_InSites @kristofdewulf via @CoolBrands #nextgen

With GenZers being used to getting immediate responses to Snapchats, Skype, Whatsapp or Facebook messages, think about how you can build a more snappy-proof work environment, how you can turn your business challenges into consumer-like applications, making them easier, simpler and more fun. A good example here is how Capriza removes people’s limitations by using classic business applications. The power of a minute is their central departure point: they radically bring down the time people need to execute a specific task to one magical minute. Instead of people having to chase the technology, they flip the funnel and ensure technology is chasing and serving people’s needs.

Dreaming of a better world

While GenZers tend to take a more realistic look on life, nevertheless they are also dreamers striving to make the world better for themselves and for future generations. Being brought up in an era of economic crisis, the war on terror and debates about equality and diversity, GenZers have a more than average interest in the global issues that surround them. Their digital interconnectedness plays a large part in this, as they have seen and experienced people fighting the good fight on the Internet from a very young age. Even more striking is that GenZers aren’t just talking about what they would do, they are already doing it: almost 1 out of 4 claims to actively volunteer and support various good causes.

Hot tweetawayHot tweetaway: 1 out 4 #GenZ actively volunteers and supports #goodcauses insit.es/1U9nPDL by @Joeri_InSites @kristofdewulf via @CoolBrands #nextgen

Organizations neglecting to embrace a clear purpose that goes beyond making profit will have a hard time convincing GenZers to work for them. In an interview with us, Carl-Christoph Fellinger, head of Employer Branding & Talent Attraction at Beiersdorf, says: “For Gen Z, there is no clear separation between work and life, not just in terms of time management but also in motivations. They get gratifications from work and seek a way to enjoy life through their job too.”

They want to make it

The New York Times put it well when describing Generation Z: “These children are so mature and they learn so fast, they might just be ready to take over by the time they’re 22.” Their independence at a young age is remarkably high and they do not wait to go out and discover things on their own. Imagine this: 42% of GenZers have actually already made plans to start their own business! They feel ready for it and are actively preparing for later professional life: 80% of high school students believe they are more driven than their peers, while over half are doing internships and gaining professional experience during high school. All of this means they have a very different perspective on work, disapproving of the classic hierarchic model that still rules many workplaces, trading strong job qualifications for having a strong network of people around them and striving to make a personal impact through their work.

Hot tweetawayHot tweetaway: 42% of #GenZ already made plans to start their own business insit.es/1U9nPDL by @Joeri_InSites @kristofdewulf via @CoolBrands #nextgen

In a recent conversation we had with entrepreneur Xavier Damman, founder of OpenCollective, he was pretty explicit about it: “The 20th century was the age of waged slavery, it’s time to escape.” Think about how you can cultivate a working environment where makers feel welcome and rewarded for what they do. With an impressive 93% of GenZers saying they want a job where they can be themselves at work, make sure you allow them to make their own hours at work, to facilitate remote working, to have plenty of ‘me time’ on the job and to dress comfortably.

Good luck in your journey to creating a Gen-Z-focused company culture!

As published on Switch & Shift, co-authored with Kristof De Wulf.

Posted in NextGens