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Generation Z: Five Surprising Insights

New Research Sheds Light on Attitudes, Behaviors of Generation Z at Work

MENLO PARK, Calif., July 22, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- They want to drive to their jobs, head into their private offices and meet face-to-face with colleagues before calling it a day – hopefully, not too late, since work-life balance is their primary career concern. Sound like a baby boomer, or even Gen X? On the contrary, these are the work preferences expressed by more than 770 members of Generation Z (those born between 1990 and 1999) surveyed recently by Robert Half and Enactus. 

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"Gen Z employees bring unique values, expectations and perspectives to their jobs," said Paul McDonald, senior executive director of Robert Half. "They've grown up in economically turbulent times, and many of their characteristics and motivations reflect that."

Following are five surprising insights based on the research:

1. Open floor plans? Hot start-ups? Nah, this group's tastes skew more Mad Men than Silicon Valley.

  • Forty-one percent described midsize organizations as the ideal work environment, followed by large organizations (38 percent). Only 14 percent cited start-ups.
  • Forty-five percent of respondents prefer to work in a private office, and face-to-face communication is the method of choice for 74 percent.

2. They're not exactly bubbling over with youthful optimism. Meet the 'reality-check' generation.

  • Seventy-seven percent believe they will need to work harder compared to those in past generations to have a satisfying and fulfilling professional life.
  • Balancing work and personal obligations was the top future career concern for 28 percent of respondents, followed by making enough money (26 percent) and finding a stable job (23 percent).

3. A gold watch marking decades of service may not be in the cards, but they do plan to stay a while at their jobs -- and move quickly up the ladder.

  • Gen Zers expect to work for an average of four companies throughout their lifetimes.
  • Thirty-two percent believe they will be managing employees in a corporate environment within the next five years.
  • Fifty percent would like to retire by the age of 60, but only 22 percent think it will be possible. 

4. Forget fancy job titles -- they mainly want more responsibility and an honest boss.

  • Opportunity for career growth was the most commonly cited career priority, with 64 percent of respondents ranking it among their top three. An impressive job title was only cited as a priority by three percent.
  • Honesty/integrity was the top quality sought in a boss, cited by 38 percent of respondents; this was followed by mentoring ability (21 percent).

5. Collaboration shouldn't be a problem, say Gen Zers, except with those baby boomers.

  • Forty-five percent cited potential challenges working with baby boomers, compared to 17 percent who anticipate difficulties with Gen X and five percent with Gen Yers.

Bev Graham, Ph.D., vice president of Enactus USA programs, said, "Gen Z professionals are full of potential, but these young adults will need support in honing their skills and harnessing their enthusiasm to address real-world employment situations, such as the need to communicate more formally in certain situations."

Added McDonald, "This group of professionals has grown up with technology available to them around the clock and is accustomed to constant learning. Companies with a solid understanding of this generation's values and preferences will be well prepared to create work environments that attract a new generation of employees and maximize their potential." 

About Robert Half
Founded in 1948, Robert Half is the world's first and largest specialized staffing firm. The company has more than 340 staffing locations worldwide and offers online job search services on its divisional websites, all of which can be accessed at For career and hiring advice, visit the Robert Half blog at

About Enactus
Enactus is a global community of student, academic and business leaders committed to using entrepreneurial action to transform lives, improve livelihoods and shape a better, more sustainable world. The organization provides a platform for teams of university students to create innovative projects that put people's own ingenuity and talents at the center of improving their lives, livelihoods and communities. Guided by educators and supported by business leaders, students depart the comfort of the classroom and the ambiguities of academic theory and engage in real world projects to improve the lives of others. Enactus operates in more than 1,700 universities in 36 countries, with 70,500 student leaders impacting more than 1,950,000 people.


Get Ready For Generation Z Infographic


SOURCE Robert Half