14 Surprising Statistics on Generation Z

Generation Z kids on mobile devices

Move Over Millennials, the New Kids on the Block Have Arrived

While a lot of energy in recent years has been expended on understanding the talents and preferences of millennials, the time is such that we need to thoughtfully consider an entirely new generation.

Born after 1996 into an internet-connected world and raised to navigate that sphere with ease, these young digital natives now entering the workforce have an entirely unique set of goals and expectations.

Although still often referred to as “post-millennials” or “the next generation after millennials”, it’s a mistake to think of this new generation as merely an addendum to their predecessors. In fact, they are quite different! Forging a path that is quickly diverging from millennials, coupled with the changes they’ll usher in, this new generation is earning its own name.

Introducing Generation Z

Until recently, this new cohort was known by several names — iGen, NextGen, Post-Millenials, Gen Tech, Gen Wii, Net Gen, Internet Generation, Homeland Generation and Generation Z. Recently however, Generation Z is shaping up to be the clear winner with Gen Z, a shorter, arguably easier take, is trailing closely behind.

As the volume of research on Gen Z’ers grows with each passing year, there have been some surprising revelations about their thought processes and motivations. This research may also help shed light on what this influential group may prioritize in the coming decades.

By 2020, Gen Z could represent 20% of the workforce which makes them the largest cohort set to take over. As such, Gen Z’ers will drive much of the change that will shape the next 100 years. So what do we need to know about Generation Z to prepare for these changes in the workplace?

“…the changes and trends we’re seeing (from new generations) are actually rippling up instead of down.” – Jason Dorsey

Generation Z and The Human Connection Paradox

Although completely immersed in technology, early studies show that Gen Z prefers more, not less, human interaction in the workplace.

43% of Gen Z’ers prefer in-person communication with leadership and team members. (Less than half of millennials need the same amount).

Two-thirds say they need feedback from their supervisor at least every few weeks in order to stay at their job.

One in five prefer feedback daily or several times each day which allows them to consistently deliver the most value.


Contrary to societal assumptions, Gen Z feels that frequent face-to-face interaction with team members and supervisors is important for optimum job performance and satisfaction. However, for Gen Z, not all feedback is created equal.

As a generation that’s immersed in YouTube and skills-sharing online, Gen Z prefers mentoring or coaching (versus managing) as this method feels more engaging and mirrors how they have consumed information and guidance since they were old enough to work a smartphone.


Generation Z and The Financial Security Paradox

Members of Gen Z were still children during the Great Recession. They observed their parents and their communities suffer financial setbacks and weather economic uncertainties for an extended period of time. Experts believe that this is why Gen Z’ers prioritize security, benefits and economic stability.

“This is a pragmatic generation — they care about making a difference, but are ultimately motivated by ensuring they have a secure life outside of work.” – Forbes


Overall, Gen Z’ers are smarter with money than millennials. In fact, 12% are already saving for retirement and a significant 21% had a savings account before the age of ten.

77% of Gen Z’ers currently earn their own spending money through freelance work, a part-time job, or an earned allowance. This bodes well for Gen Z’s future self-reliance and long-term contribution to the economy, as well as for employers.

And yet despite their penchant for security, new data reveals Gen Z is the most freelancing-inclined cohort yet. Gen Z is foregoing traditional, corporate roles and freelancing by choice more than any other generation.

46% of adult working Gen Z’ers freelanced last year. (This generation is more likely than any other to choose freelancing proactively).

73% saying they originally started by choice rather than necessity. (Versus 66% of baby boomers and 62% of millennials).


“As Gen Z enters the workforce, they’re increasingly choosing non-traditional ways of working that are better suited to their desired lifestyle than a traditional 9-to-5 job… More than any other generation, members of Gen Z are seeking work they’re passionate about that also affords them freedom and flexibility. It’s important that companies adjust their hiring strategies in order to work with the best young talent, which accounts for more people than Gen X and baby boomers and will be the majority of the workforce within the next five years.” – Stephane Kasriel, Upwork CEO

The latest generation to enter the workforce, Gen Z is focused on finding meaning in their chosen careers. As such, they are more likely to be motivated by job satisfaction and working for social good than by money.

This parameter, coupled with the fact that they’re simply better at managing their pocketbooks than their immediate predecessors, is setting them up to become a profoundly influential generation when it comes to the world of work. Gen Z’ers will forge their own work path using their technical know-how to enable them to work wherever they want. However, they will be pragmatic, with security as a guiding force behind their career and life decisions.

Generation Z and The Technology Paradox

Technology’s influence — in particular how people communicate and interact — is a major generation-shaping factor. Being the first cohort of pure digital natives, technology is where Gen Z differs the most from other generations, including millennials. Millennials have certainly adapted to things that have come online but for Gen Z, technology is just part of their ecosystem.

Going forward, these young digital natives simply assume that technology will play a central role in their careers and life.

80% of Gen Z’ers aspire to work with cutting-edge technology.

91% say technology would influence job choice among similar employment offers.

80% believe technology and automation will create a more equitable work environment.


“Technology is less intentional and more intuitive for this generation, and their social skills are morphing into a hybrid of technology and face-to-face contact.” – John Richardson, University of Ottawa

Gen Z’ers familiarity with technology and how they experience the world through its use is unique to them. Technology is more about communication than convenience. It’s an extension of themselves and therefore (ironically) more personal.

95% of Gen Z’ers have a smartphone.

55% are on their phones 5+ hours a day.

26% are on their phones 10+ hours a day.

65% use their phones after midnight a few times a week.

29% use their phones after midnight every night.


Generation Z’ers have always had the internet at their fingertips. If they encounter a problem or something they don’t know the answer to, they seek out the website or technology that can help. They are adaptive and responsive to new apps and tools that can be roadblocks for older generations. Giving people who are used to finding workarounds to problems in their personal lives the space and encouragement to replicate that in the workplace will result in a team that’s intuitive, solutions-driven and independent. However, if they’re being micro-managed, that won’t happen, and they’re more likely to depend on and defer to managers to steer them.

The Generation Z and The Best of Both Worlds

This generation is on the rise and with it comes a host of changes and contradictions. What we know for certain is that Gen Z will lead the way in the digital-first economy for no other reason than the obvious. They are the first cohort of pure digital natives. They have a unique relationship with technology and that will surely impact the future of work and society as a whole.

However, this is also a generation that desires face-to-face human interaction and mentoring, leaving the door wide open for a cross-generational exchange of ideas and inter-disciplinary cooperation. Employers and service providers can accommodate this by providing collaborative work environments and an inspiring culture. For remote teams and freelancers, tools like AR, VR, Skype and flexible or coworking work environments can help workers connect and collaborate on an on-going basis.

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