Are You up to Speed With Generation Z?

As Generation Z begins to enter offices across the land, we give you the lowdown on the newest kids on the block.  

Generation Z is the latest group of new employees to join the rat race. Born between the mid-nineties and early noughties, today’s next generation of recruits are sweeping organisations across the land as they reach working age.

Generation Z is the latest group of new employees to join the rat race. Born between the mid-nineties and early noughties, today’s next generation of recruits are sweeping organisations across the land as they reach working age.

Born with an iPhone in their hand, it’s easy to think this generation are disconnected from the real world. They might be immersed in social media and be a product of the post-truth era, but Generation Z are switched on in more ways than one.  

The question is, what do you need to know about these fresh young faces to keep them engaged and happy at work? And how can you, as their employer, best interact with these bright young minds to inspire great work, improving performance and cultivating a brilliant work ethic as you go?


Sodexo’s ‘Generation Game: Winning Employee Hearts and Minds In a Dynamic Multi-Generational Workplace’ report tells us that this generation are more diverse and globally aware than any generation that’s gone before it.

They’re certainly viewed as more serious than previous ones. And is it any wonder?! Not only have they grown up against a backdrop of 9/11, but the word ‘crisis’ looms when it comes to just about everything these days. Economic wellbeing it isn’t.  

From the global recession of 2008 to the debt crisis, housing crisis, refugee crisis and everything in between, this generation hasn’t grown up with the cosy 1990s. Oh no. It’s no wonder Generation Z are full of self-scrutiny and anxiety about the future.

What’s more, on the whole, they’ve had their wings truly clipped. Not only is car ownership down, but so too is the possibility of leaving home at a young age.

Pile on the money worries with higher costs of living and low wages, and you begin to get a picture of a generation that’s cash strapped and less ready (or able) to fly the nest and grab the world with both hands. It hardly seems fair, does it?

American psychologists Jean Twenge and Heejung Park analysed 8.3 million responses across seven surveys of previous generations and found Generation Z to be less reckless and more socially isolated than prior ones. It seems they’re turning their attentions to the online world, favouring family time over going out, drinking alcohol or dating.

So, does this mean they’ll make more serious and committed workers? We’d like to think so.


It’s as broad as it is sweeping, but it’s our view that this new generation could be different from any other in the workplace. Don’t panic just yet though, there are many similarities here with millennials, which is hardly surprising, given that they were the first digital natives to be let loose into the world of work.

Michael Wood, a principal at 747 Insights, has described the Generation Z as “millennials on steroids” because of the similarities between the two generations – except the newbies are just more extreme.

You’ll recognise many similar traits – a desire to do good in the world and work for companies with a social conscience is a big one – but we’re betting this generation is going to tip the scales when it comes to driving innovation.

If Generation Z has grown up against a backdrop of austerity and anxiety, it’s certain they will have the ability to make their mark on the world. History tells us that generations with limited resources are more imaginative and creative because they have to be. Necessity is the mother of invention, as they say.

We think employers have a lot to look forward to. 

As we’ve already seen, startups are rife and have been successful thanks to the open mindedness of this generation and their millennial counterparts. But particularly in terms of seeking out motivational success stories, this generation are likely to be the most willing to try new ways of doing things and that could change the workplace as we know it.

It’s thanks to this mindset that values experiences over things, that ventures like smartphone bank Monzo have been able to challenge centuries old high street institutions. Technology is certainly having an impact – so workplaces will need to keep up.


As Sodexo’s ‘Generation Game’ report states, speed is important for Generation Z. They’re used to digesting data and information faster than any other generation. It’s something that’s going to have an impact on the way employers communicate. If your workplace isn’t keeping up with latest advances in technology, it’s time to bring it to the top of your HR agenda.

Jeff Fromm, CEO and Founder of APPrise Mobile, told Forbes that workplaces need to adapt and embrace new communication tools and mobile is key to this.

He says, “A plethora of new tools is invading the workplace, many more suited to a mobile device than a desktop. The workplace needs to change to accommodate the fact that Gen Z expect that information will be made available to them and consumable through the small screens of Apple and Android devices.”

Fromm adds that better communication will result in employees who are more effective and efficient in their work. And we’re inclined to agree.

FREE guide - the generation game Make sure you’re winning hearts and minds in a multi-generational workplace  with this guide. Click to learn more.


We already know that millennials are expected to find a new job by 2020, according to Sodexo’s ‘Move, Mould, Motivate: An Essential Guide to Employee Engagement’.

Generation Z won’t be far behind them if workplaces fail to evolve. Their economic wellbeing will certainly depend on employers being generous at spotting promotion opportunities and setting clear objectives for them to work to.

Jeremy Finch from Adobe says, “Gen Z face many of the challenges that everyone faces in that life stage — transitioning from school to work, separating from parents, and forming their own identities. But they’re doing so in an ultra-connected, fast-moving technological age.”

It’s this technology that’s going to change us for good. A better connected workplace will also see more of us embracing flexible working in the future – something we expect Generation Z to want, just like millennials. But they’re not the only ones.

Sodexo’s ‘Generation Game’ research reveals that “28% of 16-24 year olds value working remotely as an important benefit, and the exact same percentage of 40-54 year olds agree.”

It’s not just young recruits who want a strong workplace culture, flexible working and a generous annual leave allowance thrown in. These modern employment perks are valued across all age groups. But more about that in a minute.


So far, so connected. We all know young people’s minds are like sponges, ready to soak up fresh information and get busy with it. But a key difference for employers to be mindful of is that this generation may be the least used to the working world.

Gone are the days when most teenagers had a Saturday job. HR managers and employers will have to get on the case when it comes to providing relevant and useful training and development opportunities – but has this really ever been any different for other generations entering the workplace for the first time?

Here’s what else you need to do: a good mentoring scheme can help bring older workers together with younger employees so that skills and knowledge can be imparted and you can develop a mutual understanding across different age groups.

Peer to peer recognition schemes can also really help to build working relationships.

Iain Thomson, Sodexo’s Director of Incentive and Recognition says, “Peer-to-peer recognition programs are really powerful. They encourage employees from all walks of life to show appreciation for one another, bring a new sense of positivity to the workplace, and ensure even the smallest of achievements reach the limelight.”


Sodexo’s research also tells us that when you’re approaching ways to improve the employee experience, it’s important not to stereotype the different generations.

Let’s face it, we’ve all had our fill of negative articles focusing on millennial bashing and we don’t expect Generation Z to have to put up with it either.

When it comes to the employee experience, there are lots of aspects that everyone can agree on – regardless of age or life stage.

Everyone wants personalised feedback and employee recognition. Throw in a dazzling employee benefits package that’s relevant to the individual in question and you’ll really stand to gain.

Good engagement specialists will be able to put together a range of inspiring company perks, incentives and rewards – and don’t be fooled, employees will expect this, whether they’ve been in the world of work before or not. 

Iain Thomson, continues, “One clear purpose of benefits is to support every employee, no matter what stage in life they’re at”. Wise words from someone who knows his cycle to work scheme from his pension pot. 

Whether you opt for salary sacrifice schemes, a cycle scheme or cinema benefits, this could be influenced by the generations at play in your workplace. Yet it’s our opinion that employee benefits should appeal to every individual, regardless of whether they’re into Snapchat, Facebook or something else altogether.  


There are exciting times ahead for employers. Like every generation before it, Generation Z has a lot to prove, but perhaps even more so thanks to their hard wired understanding of technology. There’s no doubt in our minds that they’ll measure up to the challenge though.

We can’t wait to see what lies in store as they make their presence felt. Either way, these young people are the future – treat them well and one day they might do the same for you…


The Generation Game - Winning Hearts and Minds