You’ve certainly heard generalizations about the latest two generations of Americans to show up in the workplace. Perhaps your coworker has lamented something ruined by Millennials, or your boss has talked about tailoring the office toward the new Gen Z employees. To define the two terms, ‘Millennial’ refers to someone born between the years of 1981 and 1996, while a Gen Z individual has a birth year between 1995 and 2012 (yes, there is some overlap). While each individual is unique, understanding the differences between generations is interesting and beneficial. What follows are a few examples.
Believe it or not, approximately one in four adults has cavities. When it comes to understanding the difference between Millennials and Gen Z in terms of oral health, the key word is access. Persons from the Millennial years are much more likely to work in stable environments with dental care included as a benefit. This allows for more regular trips to the dentist and preventative diagnosis and care to take care of any issues before they intensify. Gen Z workers were born into the gig economy. Not only are they less likely to have a stable job because they are younger, they also come from an era of less focus on full-time careers and benefit offerings, and more emphasis on entrepreneurship, part-time jobs, and moving from job to job. Consequently, they may be prone to less consistent dental appointments and persistent issues that don’t get treated in a timely manner.
On average, Americans drive their cars and trucks roughly 10,000 miles per year. This doesn’t mean that the Millennial and Gen Z cohorts have similar attitudes about vehicular transportation. Gen Z individuals are more likely to embrace some of the buzzwords around transportation, including walkability, active transportation, ride sharing, EVs and more. They tend to be mission-oriented, so if they can positively contribute to lower carbon emissions or reengineering cities to be more environmentally friendly, all the better. Millennials are more traditional in this regard, and trend more close to the 10,000 miles per year mark. However, Millennials come from an era in which public transportation was being pushed throughout large cities, so they may be more likely to take the bus or train than their Gen Z counterparts.
Lengthy articles could be written about how changes in the economy have impacted the different generations’ attitudes toward money. However, something that has remained steady across generations is the fact that the percentage of American adults with a will tails off toward the age of 18, meaning that younger adults are less likely to have a will. This makes plenty of sense, but many financial advisors and lawyers suggest that most Americans set up wills long after they should. The common counsel is to establish a will once you have established a full-time career and somewhat regular income. However, 78% of Millennials do not have a will, while 64% of Gen Xers (born between 1965-1980) do not have one. The assumption is that most members of both generations have a steady income, but haven’t taken this important estate planning step. As more research becomes available, it will be interesting to see the attitudes of Gen Zers regarding wills. Current trends show increasing personal debt, which may result in fewer assets to leave, and therefore less eagerness to create a will.
Again, these trends and differences between generations are generalizations. However, you can see how much of what is being reported regarding topics such as the job market, the climate, sustainability, personal finance and more reflects changing attitudes among Americans entering the workforce. As employers understand and put this information to use, they can get a leg up in creating jobs that are embraced by the rising generation. Additionally, companies will pivot and tailor their offerings to consumers who are actively being hired and promoted.