Generation Z is starting to show up for work, and they’re bringing with them an entirely new outlook. Unlike Millennials, who typically buck tradition in the workplace and appear to be driving the flexible work revolution, Gen Z craves something very different. Stability.
“It’s fascinating to see that most adults think I would prioritize such things as being able to work from home,” says Tara Ellwood-Mielewski, 17, a senior at Rudolf Steiner High School of Ann Arbor, Michigan. “No one is more shocked than my mother when I say that I want a stable, 9-to-5 job.”
Ellwood-Mielewski describes herself as a dancer who loves science and has a passion for the environment. She plans to study chemical engineering in college next year, and she knows that her perspective on work might change in the future. But right now, nothing looks more inviting to her and her peers than a steady job in a stable environment. “The people I know tend to prioritize stability as a major want in our future workplace, and that’s true whether they plan to be an artist, a psychologist or a computer scientist,” she says.
She and her friends are not alone. “A lot of folks want to tuck Gen Z under Millennials and say they’re ‘Millennials-plus,’” says Anna Blue, co-executive director of Girl Up, a leadership development organization that teaches girls skills like mobilizing and organizing in their communities to advance gender equality. “But actually, they’re very different. They cannot wait to put on a suit or get dressed up and go to work and work office hours.”
According to the Pew Research Center, Gen Z babies came into the world from the late 1990s to 2010 (kids born after 2010 are part of burgeoning Gen Alpha). No longer babies, they range in age from tweens to early twenties. They’re also the largest generation in the world right now. “By next year, Gen Z will make up one-third of the workforce,” says Blue. “And they will be 40% of the consumer base.” Even though most of them are too young to receive a paycheck, they’re already driving a large chunk of household spending.