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Way to Z: Understanding the Newest Generation of Young Employees

Way to Z: Understanding the Newest Generation of Young Employees

By Braulio Giron, Jr. on June 7, 2019

Those born from 1996 to 2012 have already begun entering the workforce and you'll once again need to adapt your hiring approach to better accommodate the newest kids on the block.

It seems like it was just a minute ago when most companies were finetuning their recruitment strategies towards attracting millennial talent. However, the succeeding generation has already begun entering the workforce, and given that the influx has just begun, now is as good a time as any to adjust your hiring approach to the job market’s newest youngins’.

Yet, who exactly are these workers coming from Generation Z? Considered by many as the individuals born between 1996 and 2012, only the oldest of this next generation have begun making a living, and given that they succeed the ever-popular “Millennials” with some of the older Gen Z being considered part of this generation instead, they are alternatively addressed by some as “Zillennials.”


Despite the similar name, they’re not quite the same

While Zillennials immediately succeed Millennials which make them close in age, the two generations have a number of differences between them. These are brought on by a number of factors, but is most notably influenced by the behavioral characteristics of their parents, and by the technological eras which they grew up in.

  • They’re more like their parents than they are like the generation before them

According to Vincent Berndsen, Head of Consulting for Hungry Workforce who spoke at Kalibrr’s Kalibrr Communities: Zillenials event last April 2019,  Gen Z are more akin to their parents, who are often Gen X’ers, or those born around 1965 to 1980. He shared that “Gen Z, like Gen X, have a skeptical, individualistic focus, unlike Millennials (Gen Y) who, like their Baby Boomer parents, are idealistic cohorts with influences that will shape consumer and workplace behaviour for decades.”

  • They are always connected, leading to them always keeping score

The ease in accessing technology, and subsequently information, has essentially thrust Gen Z into what can be considered the most competitive educational and competitive environments in history. From online grading portals where they can get frequent updates on their academic performance, to social media platforms where they can receive kudos or criticism from their peers in an instant, Zillennials were born into an era where they are unknowingly comparing successes and failures with others, creating a competitive nature unlike of those from generations before.

  • Yet, despite growing up with technology, they prefer communicating in person

According to Millennial Branding and Randstad’s 2014 worldwide study comparing Gen Y and Gen Z workplace expectations, “Gen Z grew up with technology, yet 51% of them prefer in-person communication over tools like e-mail (16%) and instant messaging (11%).” For them electronic devices are primarily used for the purpose of entertainment, and are tapped for communication only when the face-to-face option isn’t available. This is unlike Millennials, who grew up with lesser technologies, and therefore better appreciate the convenience electronic communications provide.

  • They are financially focused

Unlike previous generations, workplace engagement matters less to Gen Z, and if they had to make a choice, they would lean more towards a career that provides financial stability than it does enjoyment. This should not be mistaken for fulfilment or purpose, as they still like to work in an enjoyable environment and have jobs which are meaningful, it’s just that compensation and benefits take the precedent . They also crave structure, goals, challenges and a way to measure their progress, all while being compensated accordingly.

  • They view themselves as entrepreneurs

Members of Gen Z in general believe that there is plenty of money to be made in today’s economy. Shows like “Silicon Valley” and “Shark Tank”, and the countless number of influencers and e-commerce moguls they see online, have inspired them to look favorably on entrepreneurship, with the latter examples showing them how technology can be leveraged to create exciting and lucrative business opportunities with relatively low overhead. According to American consulting agency XYZ University, "58% of Gen Z wants to start a business someday, while 14% already has."


There are a lot of Gen Z to reach out to, now and in the future

The aforementioned are but a few characteristics of Gen Z but, as Vincent Berndsen also noted during Kalibrr Communities, “not every Millennial acts like a typical Millennial, and not every Gen Z acts like a typical Gen Z.” These are simply what’s been observed from Gen Z’s general population, and even attested to by several in the age group.

These can also eventually change and evolve. According to Bloomberg, “Gen Z will comprise 32% percent of the global population of 7.7 billion in 2019, nudging ahead of millennials, who will account for a 31.5% share.” Some of them are still in school, and only time will tell how they are once stepping foot in the workplace.

With that said, knowing their common characteristics can prove helpful as you begin adjusting your workplace, and prepare for the arrival of Gen Z workers into your employ for the next years to come.

  • Appeal to their competitiveness

As previously mentioned, many of Gen Z have grown to be competitive, thanks to tech providing them an avenue to “always know the score” between themselves and the rest of the world. With that, being able to keep them up to date with constant feedback is an aspect of work which they will greatly appreciate.

According to Love Basillote, Executive Director of the Philippine Business for Education (PBEd), acknowledging what Gen Z can do is the first step in appealing to their competitiveness. “Gen Z is really about their competence. It’s not about their age or their labels, it’s about what they can do. So when we recruit them, we appeal to their skills and say ‘hey, we see this is what you can do, and because of that, we want to work with you.’”

Always knowing the score means they won’t accept being uninformed, making it important to keep them up-to-date about the company, its output or productivity, and any strategic directions, especially that directly related to their role.

  • And to their independence

Akin to the competitive nature most of Gen Z has grown into is also a sense of wanting to work individually. While the prior Millennial generation is widely known to prefer collaborative work environments, most Zillennials are the contrary, and as previously mentioned are more like their Gen X parents.

For that reason, we may see the trend shift away from collaborative workplaces, and move back to more individualistic and competitive environments. Since different types of work require varying levels of collaboration, focus, and quiet reflection, it may be ideal to develop workplaces that incorporate room for both togetherness and independence.

  • Give value to their work

As already mentioned, workplace engagement matters less to Gen Z than it did to previous generations, and fair compensation is what their priority is. Save obviously providing them a reasonable salary, you can also show how you value their contributions by way of company savings plans or stock options, which are great ways to bind them and keep them connected, even if they change employers.

According to Berndsen, “Gen Z want to earn and be successful, and they are at risk of burn out while they overachieve.” It’s in this scenario that taking care of them as employees with a safe and healthy working environment while incorporating fun with healthy escapes as they tend to get soaked up too much. This, accompanied by adequate health and vacation benefits. can be another manner of giving value to their work.

  • Reach out to their entrepreneurial spirit

Companies that emphasize Gen Z’s desire for entrepreneurship and allow them to contribute ideas will see higher engagement. Zillennials want to grow businesses and save for letting them leave to do it on their own, they can also benefit from learning how to do it with substantial involvement in your business.

Along with the savings plans and stock option plans mentioned earlier, this can also be achieved via intrapreneur programs for top performers, or increased involvement or even the opportunity to lead CSR initiatives. Gen Z are also exceptionally creative, and giving them the time and freedom to come up with innovative ideas and the opportunity to put these into motion will feed into their entrepreneurial leanings.


Indeed, there is more to understand about Gen Z as they come into their own. What has to be acknowledged and facilitated now though, is that despite being rather early in their careers, they already have valuable skills and insights to offer.

Need help with the recruitment of Gen Z and other qualified talents? Sign up for Kalibrr and start hiring better today!


Kalibrr is a technology company that aims to transform how candidates find jobs and how companies hire talent. Placing the candidate experience at the center of everything it does, the company continues to attract the best talent from all over, with more than 2 million professionals and counting. Kalibrr ultimately connects these talents to companies in search of their next generation of leaders.

The only end-to-end recruitment solutions provider in Southeast Asia, Kalibrr is headquartered in Makati, Philippines, with offices in San Francisco, California and Jakarta, Indonesia. Established in 2012, it has served over 18,000 clients, and is backed by some of the world’s most powerful start-up incubators and venture capitalists. These include Y Combinator, Omidyar Network, Patamar Capital, Wavemaker Partners, and Kickstart Ventures.

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