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Employers, ignore the nuances of Gen Z at your peril

David Brancaccio, Candace Manriquez Wrenn, Erika Soderstrom, and Daniel Shin Nov 22, 2019
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Jonah Stillman (L) and David Stillman founded Gen Z Guru.
Courtesy of Gen Z Guru

As the millennial generation gets older and starts to transition into management level jobs, recruiters and researchers are paying more attention to Generation Z — the colloquial label used for people born in the mid 1990s through 2015 — as more and more of them enter the workforce.

But employers shouldn’t confuse Gen Zers with their older millennial counterparts, according to father-son duo David and Jonah Stillman, founders of the management consulting firm Gen Z Guru.

A member of Gen Z himself, Jonah says employers should never confuse his generation with millennials because their sensibilities toward the workplace and their economic values are vastly different.

“When millennials enter the early stages of their career, statistically, they said the number one thing they want from their employer is meaning,” said Jonah Stillman. “The number one thing we [Gen Zers] look for in an employer is pay and salary. And it makes sense as we grew up in the recession.

But that doesn’t mean Gen Z doesn’t care about the world, according to Jonah’s father David Stillman.

“Realistic is what they are,” said the elder Stillman. “Just very pragmatic and realistic because they saw the recession, they saw things stripped from their parents, they saw a lot of millennials sitting on mounds of college debt. And so they’re saying, ‘look, I need to be making a salary first and foremost in order to survive.'”

Gen Zers can also be more entrepreneurial, according to the younger Stillman. That means employers should expect them to have a side-gig or two.

“It used to be the decision that my dad’s generation had to make is, ‘do I go work for a company? Or do I go off on my own and try to start it?’ And my generation can do both,” said Jonah.

Click on the audio player to listen to the interview.

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