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Gen Z workforce is more optimistic than Millennials

Mark Royal, Senior Director, Korn Ferry
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Move Over Millennials, There’s a New Workforce in Town: Korn Ferry Survey Reveals Gen Z is Highly Optimistic, Purpose Driven (and Less Stressed Out)

As Gen Z (born 1997-2010) enters the workforce, a new Korn Ferry survey of professionals of all ages examines how the next generation in the workplace is bringing plenty of optimism, a lot of purpose and less stress than Millennials (born 1982-1996).

Nearly two-thirds of respondents (60 percent) say Gen Z is more optimistic about the future. A slight majority (53 percent) say that Gen Z will bring more motivation to the workplace than Millennials, and more than half (54 percent) believe that members of Gen Z will place more emphasis on whether their work has purpose.

“Beliefs that members of Gen Z are more optimistic may reflect the fact that they are new to the professional workforce and are ready to take on the world,” said Korn Ferry Senior Director Mark Royal.

“However, another aspect may be environmental factors in their upbringing. We have seen nearly a decade of prosperity, and that is what members of Gen Z experienced in their formative years. On the flip side, Millennials are more influenced by living through the Great Recession, when many saw their parents lose their jobs as the economy tanked.”

More than two-thirds (67 percent) of survey respondents say Millennials are more stressed in the workplace than Gen Z, 58 percent say Millennials are more motivated by salary/compensation, and 65 percent say Millennials are more motivated by moving up quickly in their careers.

Survey respondents were split on which generation values work/life balance more and which generation will be easier to work with.

“Each new generation entering the workforce brings with it unique attributes and challenges,” said Royal.

“The key for managers is to understand what motivates all employees to bring their best to their jobs every day and to create a culture where all employees feel supported and valued.”

About the survey

There were 796 responses to the survey of professionals, which took place in August 2019. Please note that due to rounding responses may not equal 100 percent.

Which generation is more stressed in the workplace?

Millennials                                                                                                                   67 percent

Gen Z                                                                                                                          33 percent

Which generation is more motivated overall?

Millennials                                                                                                                   47 percent

Gen Z                                                                                                                          53 percent                                                                                                                              

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Which generation is motivated more by salary/compensation?

Millennials                                                                                                                   58 percent

Gen Z                                                                                                                          42 percent                                                                                                      

Which generation is more motivated by moving up quickly in their careers?

Millennials                                                                                                                   65 percent

Gen Z                                                                                                                          35 percent                                                                  

Which generation values work/life balance more?

Millennials                                                                                                                   51 percent

Gen Z                                                                                                                          49 percent                                                                                                                              

Which generation is more optimistic about the future?

Millennials                                                                                                                   40 percent

Gen Z                                                                                                                          60 percent

Which generation places more emphasis on whether they believe their work has purpose?

Millennials                                                                                                                   46 percent

Gen Z                                                                                                                          54 percent

In your opinion, which generation is easier to work with?

Millennials                                                                                                                   51 percent

Gen Z                                                                                                                          49 percent

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