Generation Z refers to the current largest generational group in the U.S. – those born after 1990. Most of this population of 23 million (and growing) is still too young to have their own income, but according to a study by Sparks & Honey, they have significant control over household purchases. Their average allowance of nearly $70 per month translates to $44 billion a year.
However, the oldest of this generation graduated from college in 2012, and are already in the workforce. There are currently more than 11 million Generation Z workers in the North American workforce, making up 7 percent of total workers. By 2015, they will reach 20 million, 25 million by 2017, and 30 million by 2019.
As roughly 30 million Baby Boomers retire, Generation Z will represent the greatest generation shift the workplace has seen.
U.S. Demographics by Generational Groups
Source: Sparks & Honey
Generation Z as Workers
This new generation of young people entering the workforce grew up with economic uncertainty and a boom in technology and connectivity. Compared to workers of the last decade, this generation has lower expectations and modest demands.
According to a survey of 4,597 students, 76 percent of Gen Z-ers hope that their hobbies will turn into full-time jobs, compared to 50 percent of Millennials. And 55 percent of high school students felt pressured by their parents to gain early professional experience.
A separate survey revealed that 60 percent of Gen Z-ers want to have an impact on the world with their jobs, and 26 percent of 16 to 19 year-olds are currently volunteering. Social entrepreneurship is one of the most popular career choices for this generation.
Trends Shaping Gen Z-ers
1) Social Media & Communication
Generation Z-ers have never known a world in which they could not be in conversation with anyone anywhere at any time. They communicate with speed and often use emoticons and emojis instead of words. The media describes them as “screenagers” or the first generation of “digital natives”. Over 80 percent of online teens use some kind of social media.
2) Human Connection
Generation Z-ers were raised with a highly engaged parenting, teaching and counseling approach. This makes them less likely to resist authority relationships and perform under supervision when they are engaged in intensive working relationships.
Generational Z-ers grew up in a diverse environment, where multiracial children are the fastest growing youth group in the U.S. Their educational system focused on inclusive classrooms and as a result, they are likely to be collaborative team players.
Growing up surrounded by DIY education and crowdsourcing, Gen-Z teenagers want to be self-employed. Over 70 percent of high school students want to start a business someday, and 61 percent would rather be an entrepreneur than an employee (compared to 43 percent of college students).
Check out the September 2014 edition of DCR TrendLine for our tips on how to engage and manage Generation Z workers.