Move over Millennials, Gen Z is here! reads every headline by journalists who’ve burned out on Millennials. We too are excited about the next generation, but we’re fighting back against that Millennial fatigue. When you consider that Millennials will make up half the American workforce in 3 years, with many of them already in or aspiring to leadership positions, it’s critical to continue to improve your understanding of this generation and fine-tune your recruiting and retention strategies. We’re looking at Gen Edge, but still keeping Millennials very much in our sights. In our 3G Report, we surveyed over 3,000 Millennials and Gen Edgers and supplemented our research with focus groups and interviews. We slaved over the data to pull apart the differences and similarities and to present leaders and managers with awareness, tools, and tactics that will streamline management of the youngest generations in the workforce.
In true Millennials-love-lists fashion, here’s a listicle of the top takeaways from our full report, but first, here’s how we break down the 3Gs (three generations) that are the future of your workforce.
- Early Millennials, born 1980–1987
- Recessionist Millennials, born 1988–1995
- Generation Edge (Z), born 1996–2010
Similarities Between All Millennials + Gen Edge
#1: To effectively lead all Millennials and Generation Edgers, leaders need to act like champions, not bosses.
In a hierarchical work environment that was built on a “no news is good news,” top-down leadership style, Millennials and Generation Edgers can feel stifled, limited, and fearful of a culture that says “no” more than “yes.” If you are a leader, think of the best coach you’ve ever had… now adopt some of those qualities.
- 53% of Gen Edgers, 50% of Recessionists, and 41% of Early Millennials prefer a leader who encourages them.
#2: The Recession profoundly impacted Millennials and Generation Edge—motivating them begins with a paycheck.
For years, generational experts—including us—have concluded that Millennials are motivated more by certain factors like making an impact and having a great work environment than a paycheck. While we still believe these factors to be integral in retention strategies, motivation begins with a paycheck. (Ideally, one that will cover their student loan bills and provide a bit of extra money to have fun.)
- When asked what makes them most worried at work, the #1 answer across all segments was financial stability.
- Recessionists are the most concerned about finances. When asked what is most important to them in their future, they responded with financial stability, whereas Early Millennials said autonomy and Generation Edge said societal impact.
#3: Despite gender inclusion initiatives, the confidence gap remains.
The good news? 3G is ambitious; the majority of all segments believe they will be a leader within five years. The not-so-good news? Early Millennials showed the biggest gender gap in their responses to that question, and Generation Edge had the most narrow. It’s up to you, no matter your age or role, to ensure that Gen Edgers’ confidence gap doesn’t grow any wider as they get older.
- Of all 3G, 75% of males said they would be leaders within five years and only 59% of females said the same.
- 73% of Early Millennial men and 53% of Early Millennial women said they’d be leaders within five years. 68% of Gen Edge males and 63% of Gen Edge females said the same.
- When indicating gender identity in our survey, Generation Edgers were most likely to identify themselves as “other.”
#4: The 3G is fully aware of their real struggle with in-person communication
All three segments acknowledge their workplace weakness: face-to-face communication. This perceptiveness shows that not only do they have a keen sense of self-awareness, but they also need mentorship from other generations. Now, the only challenge will be to distinguish between face-time and FaceTime…
- 74% of Gen Edgers say they will struggle most with in-person communication at work vs. 65% of Recessionist Millennials and 50% of Early Millennials.
Differences Between older + younger millennials
#5: Millennials can, and should, be divided into two subgroups—Early Millennials and Recessionist Millennials.
What divides them? 1) The internet: Early Millennials started using it in it’s Wild Wild West days when it took three minutes to download one email page—they wrote papers in school and in college without the aid of Wi-Fi and Wikipedia. Recessionists were more privy to its accessibility. 2) The Great Recession: while most Early Millennials escaped the doom of graduating in a post-recession economy, none of the Recessionists did.
- 40% of Early Millennials describe themselves as tech savvy vs. 65% of Recessionists.
- Early Millennials mostly graduated into a pre-recession economy and are less motivated by money than Recessionist Millennials.
- 44% of Early Millennials describe work as a “reflection of their identity” vs. 29% of Recessionist Millennials.
#6: Early Millennials want work-life integration, but Recessionists (and Gen Edgers) want work-life balance.
Early Millennials were raised by workaholic Boomer parents, and many model their work ethic after them by working long hours and weekends, but on their own schedule. To them, autonomy over their schedule is the greatest reward to fuel their lifestyle. Recessionists, however, know that long hours, even on your own schedule, doesn’t necessarily equate to success and stability. They prefer to get as much done during regular working hours and then have a clear end time to go home and enjoy their life outside of work.
- 73% of Early Millennials would rather have work-life balance than a well-paid job vs. 63% of Recessionists and 58% of Gen Edgers.
- When asked what is most important to them about their future, Early Millennials responded with autonomy.
Differences Between Millennials + Generation Edge
#7: Gen Edge will seek stability when they enter the workplace, much more so than Millennials did at the same age.
While money may matter to all the young cohorts, Generation Edge is most willing to make the practical decisions to ensure they’re financially set. Much like Traditionalists who made smart decisions and sacrifices to ensure secure financial stability after the Great Depression, Generation Edge is doing the same after the Great Recession. In our research, Gen Edgers expressed trepidation over choosing a low-paying job just because they enjoy the work. Don’t let your stereotypes of job-hopping Millennials transfer to this generation.
- When asked how long each cohort plans to stay working for one company, Generation Edge was the most likely to answer with 11+ years and least likely to answer 0–3 years.
#8 – Gen Edgers are less collaborative than Millennials.
While technological innovations increasingly allow you to nurture a collaborative mindset, it would naturally make sense that Gen Edgers would be the most collaborative. In truth, our research found that Gen Edgers consider themselves least collaborative when compared to Early and Recessionist Millennials. This gives us insight into their work style: they’ve been raised by independent Gen Xers and have YouTube and Google as tutors, so their approach will always be one of the self-starter.