How Generation Z Views the Future: A Word on Optimism

Millennials vs. Gen Z

When you compare millennials vs. Gen Z, you'll find they are a lot alike. Millennials, however, are far more optimistic than Gen Z.

When comparing millennials vs. Gen Z, it quickly becomes clear that the two generations are a lot alike. Especially at work, millennials, who were born between 1980 and 1998, and Generation Z, born after 1998, have a lot in common. Both generations rely heavily on technology, want work-life balance, expect flexibility regarding where they get their work done and appreciate regular feedback.

Managing Millennials and Generation Z

The following traits common to millennials and Gen Z may indicate how you can best manage them and help them connect with your company and each other.

  • They have high expectations of themselves. Both generations are confident in their abilities and put pressure on themselves to perform and to succeed. To engage them, offer a clear career path and many opportunities for continued advancement.
  • They're motivated by skill building. To support their interest in continual career growth, create opportunities for mentorships and shadowing. Millennials appreciate the opportunity to demonstrate what they know, and Gen Z is hungry to learn, which makes the pairing a perfect match.
  • They value honesty and transparency. Millennials are known as skeptics, and Gen Z is following in their footsteps. That means that information sharing is key. Explaining what's happening and why helps build trust and loyalty, especially when confidential details are revealed.
  • They expect workplace flexibility. Where millennials have a preference for working remotely occasionally, Gen Z is in favor of being able to work from home all the time. Thanks to technological advances, both generations recognize the ability to easily work from anywhere. The difference is that Gen Z has trouble understanding why they shouldn't be allowed to do it all the time. Expect newer workers to want to get their work done outside the office.

Promoting Optimism Among Employees

The one area where millennials vs. Gen Z differ significantly is in their optimism. Gen Z is anxious about its future, reports economist and author Noreena Hertz in Inc. They expect their lives will be much harder than their parents', with 79 percent being nervous about finding a job, 72 percent worrying about debt and 70 percent worrying about terrorism. Millennials, on the other hand, are far less pessimistic, with at least 23 percent of their generation reporting they are optimistic, versus only 12 percent of Gen Zers.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help promote optimism in the workplace that could improve morale, work satisfaction and engagement across all generations.

  • Celebrate little wins. Sometimes the steps required to achieve a big win are few and far between, which can dampen spirits. So whenever possible, recognize the progress made to date and the people who made it possible. This recognition can fuel optimism and momentum.
  • Schedule social gatherings. Create opportunities for employees to get to know one another outside of work, through happy hours, volunteer opportunities, internal contests and parties. Help employees recognize what makes each one of them a special part of the team. Millennials especially like these kinds of activities.
  • Provide public recognition. Millennials and Gen Zers both want positive feedback as often as possible. Letting everyone know that they're doing a good job will build serious loyalty.
  • Say thank you. Show employees that you appreciate the work they're doing and encourage them to do the same for their colleagues. Consider setting up a "random acts of kindness" program or a vehicle for complimenting others for a job well done. Gratitude often means much more when it's unexpected.

Taking the time to encourage positive thinking and optimism may be particularly good for Generation Z. But it's also good for the rest of your staff, millennials and beyond.