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3 min read

Gen Z Vs. Gen X

Generation X

Born between 1965 and 1980, at the time of this article being published, could be anywhere between 42 and 57 years old.

Generation Z

Born between 1997-2012, meaning in 2022, they could be 10-25 years old and new to the workplace.

The workplace is changing drastically, and nothing symbolises it more than the difference in generations. Those from Generation X are at the heights of their career, potentially in positions of leadership and with a wealth of experience behind them.

Generation Z are fairly new to the workplace, and some of them might not see a place of work for another 11 years, but as these new individuals begin to enter the workplace, it’s important for those in leadership positions to listen and understand the newcomers and adapt so as to create a working environment that makes everyone happy, healthy and productive.

How are these generations different?

95% of Gen X use Facebook, 35% use Linkedin and 25% post regularly to Twitter (RevLocal), meanwhile, although 92% of people from Gen Z are on social media, it’s more likely to find them on the likes of Twitter, Instagram and TikTok – where the focus is less about updates from friends, but about consumable content and from a mixture of friends and influencing figures.

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There is a real difference in the degrees that were studied by the generations. The three top degrees opted by members of Gen X were: Commerce Economics, Workforce Education and Information and Design Sciences. This newer generation populate the classes of: Business Management, Psychological Studies and Education and Development (Next Generation Recruitment).

A lot of the differences that exist between them are down to societal issues from politics to race and gender, with “The stereotype is that Gen X doesn’t understand the causes that Gen Z care about, they ‘have a tendency to stand their ground and act like everybody else is wrong and they are always right’” (Buzzfeed News).

What makes Gen Z and Gen X similar?

Whilst there may be disagreements over what may be right or wrong in the way of these issues, there are a lot of similarities between the two. Whilst the view of the younger generation is that they are lazy or lack ambition, 42% say that they want to own their own business, and 76% described themselves as responsible for driving their own career. In fact, 58% said they were willing to work nights and weekends for higher pay, beating both Millennials (45%) and Gen X (>40%) (Monster Survey).

Professor Corey Seemiller of Wright State University, Ohio says that “Gen X is raising Gen Z to look like them: autonomous, cynical, with looser reigns.”

What do those in their Early Career want from work?

Gen Z are looking for a career where they don’t have to put on a mask and hide their authenticity when they go to work, with 90% wanting  some form of human element woven into their work (WEF), somewhere fun (65%, Peldon Rose), and 74% rank a business’ purpose over a pay check (Monster). The newer generation want flexibility, social elements, and they want purpose.

What does the Gen X older generation expect from those in their Early Careers

These are the recorded traits (University of Birmingham) that employers are looking for in recruits. By focusing on these individual points, and proving you are capable, you’re much more likely to impress:

  • Commercial awareness & business acumen
  • Communication & interpersonal
  • Complex problem-solving
  • Creativity, enterprise & innovation
  • Digital & data
  • Leadership
  • Planning, organising & management
  • Resilience & adaptability
  • Self-awareness
  • Teamwork

There are many preconceptions from both generations, whether they are opinions on stubbornness, laziness or arrogance. The best and most effective method that leaders can make in this decision is to listen, learn and adapt.

An understanding of your new hires and approaching with an open mind is going to unlock an untapped potential from a generation that lots of other people may be dismissing. Remember that this generation may also be your market, or will be in another 10-15 years, and by gaining an understanding of them now, and building that brand trust is essential for businesses growing in the future. A recorded 88% of Gen Z would participate in L&D programmes if they were available (Business Insider).

For Generation Z, you are at the start of a new career, and it’s important to remember that the best way for you to grow is to listen. Don’t forget who you are and what you care about but learn from the people who are in many ways, very similar in their behaviours.  Only 5% of businesses feel that graduates very well understand what skills are required for work (Youthnet Survey). This provides you with the opportunity to stand out and rise above your peers in a very competitive market.