Generation Z 'more ambitious' than Millennials: new study

The next generation of workers is raring to get their careers on the right track and more focused than their Millennial predecessors, suggests a new study by Randstad.

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New research from the flexible work and human resource services provider carried out during 2016 suggests Generation Z – people born after 1995 – are more ambitious, commercially minded and better prepared for today’s digitally connected world of work than their Millennial (born 1980–1995) counterparts.The 4,000 employed respondents to Randstad’s survey generally shared similar characteristics and aspirations across both groups. However, there were some key, albeit, marginal differences between the demographics when it came to satisfaction with education, career expectations and indicators of success.

Education and the world of work

According to the survey, nearly four in ten (38 per cent) Millennials feel their education has left them unprepared for the modern world of work. This compares to just under a third (32 per cent) of respondents from Generation Z – ‘digital natives’ born from 1996 onwards – who feel the same way.The survey also revealed that Generation Z employees have higher leadership ambitions than their older colleagues, with 84 per cent saying they are aiming for the top jobs. This compares to 79 per cent of Millennials.Generation Z employees also anticipate switching employers more regularly than their Millennial counterparts. A third (33 per cent) of Generation Z respondents report they are likely to stay less than two years at their current company. For Millennials, this proportion reduced to just over a quarter (26 cent).

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Career success motivates Generation Z

In some cases, says Randstad, the differences between the two younger generations could be due to Generation Z being younger and “more flighty.” But Randstad’s survey also reflected more drive among the very youngest employees.When it comes to measuring success, for example, the most popular response for Generation Z respondents was a promotion (23 per cent). For Millennials, the most sought-after markers of success were respect and acknowledgement from their colleagues (22 per cent).

Generation Z versus Millennials

Commenting on the study’s findings and these nascent trends that hold insights for HR and mobility experts, Mark Bull, UK CEO of global recruitment consultancy, Randstad, said: “Millennials appear to be stuck between a more financially fortunate Generation X, who didn’t need to pay university fees and were able to get onto the property ladder before prices soared, and the digital natives of Generation Z who arguably have a much more vocational and ‘e-commercial’ mindset.“As the curriculum has evolved to include lessons on coding and younger people generally understand the commercial potential of the internet, people today are leaving school, college or university with a much clearer idea of who they want to be and what they want to achieve.“A fair percentage of Millennials, on the other hand, have racked-up thousands in student debt earning academic degrees that are arguably less relevant to the modern workplace.“Without the financial advantages of Gen X and perhaps lacking the digital nous of Gen Z, it’s no surprise people are calling Millennials the lost generation. Now this clearly won’t apply to all but with Gen Z applicants snapping at their heels, more than ever it’s vital Millennials make future employers aware of their skills and commercial drive, which many will have in abundance.”

For related news and features, see our talent management section.

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