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Likely the most educated, socialised and technology aware generation yet, is about to enter the workplace. The oldest member of Generation Z, or also known as Gen Z or iGen – will be 20 years old this year. What have experts and researchers been able to observe and predict for this emerging generation that would help us better understand them in the workplace?

Dan Schawbel, founder of Millennial Branding said in the Gen Y and Gen Z Global Workplace Expectations Study “Gen Z has a clear advantage over Gen Y because they appear to be more realistic instead of optimistic, are likely to be more career-minded, and can quickly adapt to new technology to work more effectively,” Schawbel said. “Additionally, since Gen Z has seen how much Gen Y has struggled in the recession, they come to the workplace better prepared, less entitled and more equipped to succeed.”

We’ve seen thus far that Generation Z members display strong entrepreneurial skills by the number of teen millionaires already created. They seem to also be very aware of their environment and would like to make a positive impact on the world. The Center for Generational Kinetics’ early indicators about Generation Z’s most defining characteristics, are that other than living their entire lives online, they are increasingly self-aware, self-reliant, innovative, goal-oriented and pragmatic.

The Center for Generational Kinetics research and the Gen Y and Gen Z Global Workplace Expectations Study seem to mostly indicate the same about Generation Z as a potential employee:

1. Person to person exchanges are preferred
2. Working from an office is favoured compared to working from home
3. Mentorship is ideal
4. Traditional company benefits (i.e. health care, competitive salary and so on) is valued
5. They are self-motivated
6. They would like to be heard and their opinions valued by managers

Admittedly some of the above points are unexpected. One would think that, given the amount of time the younger generation is spending on their mobile phones and social media, their ability to interact would have been impacted in some way or the other. The same goes for working from an office instead of a home environment. Undoubtedly we need to stop judging a book by its cover as all is not as it seems to be.

Generation Z is still very young and we would need to observe what changes will appear in their behaviour and characteristics as they mature. What is clear so far about Generation Z is that they are only just getting started and based on their achievements thus far, we will likely be pleasantly surprised with what they will be able to contribute and achieve in work and in life.