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Top 10 Gen Z Characteristics HR Managers Should Know

9 min read

Nestor - Top 10 Gen Z Characteristics HR Managers Should Know

By 2025, Gen Zers are expected to make up 27% of the global workforce, according to the World Economic Forum’s reports. This is further backed by PwC, which claims that this percentage will rise to about 58% by 2030. As Silvia Enache, Head of Human Resources at Bringo points out “A new age is taking shape, an interesting one to take part in, as a fresh generation starts to be more and more present in the workplace, Gen Z.” In this context, it is becoming increasingly important to know and understand Gen Z’s characteristics.

Citing some Stanford-affiliated research, Silvia Enache describes a typical Gen Zer as “a self-driver who cares about others and is highly collaborative and social, appreciates authenticity, relevance, and non-hierarchical leadership.

Aspects that surface when working with Gen Zers are very much grounded in their pragmatic approach, their interest in getting things done and their affinity for the latest technology.

Silvia Enache, Head of Human Resources at Bringo

Starting with these definitions, let’s explore the key traits and characteristics that define this generation and their potential impact in the workplace. Our aim is to clarify what makes Gen Zers tick and how businesses can use that to nurture a talented workforce and sustainable growth. Let’s dive right in!

1. Gen Z are digital natives

The first on our list of Gen Z characteristics is their status as the first fully digital native generation.

They have had access to innovative technologies from an early age and are used to things being immediately accessible: information, entertainment, goods and services, etc. This early access has also made Gen Zers more self-reliant, compared to previous generations.

In the workplace, this manifests as a desire to work with the latest technology. They see apps, software, and gadgets as trusted allies and are eager to find ways of using them to streamline their work.

In terms of learning and development (L&D), growing up with access to a wide range of knowledge and sources has made Gen Zers prefer self-learning programs over traditional approaches and respond better to coaching and mentoring initiatives, thanks to them being used to influencers, their early online ‘mentors’.

2. Gen Z are radically inclusive & view individual identity as paramount

Another defining trait of this generation is their radical inclusivity and tendency to prioritize individual identity, which is expressed through the things they do, watch, or buy.

Gen Zers are not fans of stereotypes and are more open to accepting different opinions or life choices. They appreciate true authenticity and expect it not only from their peers but also from their (future) employers. What does all of this mean for businesses?

To attract top Gen Z talent, you need to create a truly inclusive and diverse workplace, where everyone is encouraged to be themselves and celebrate their uniqueness while also being part of a supportive community. It also means that Gen Z employees are more likely to respond better to personalized or tailored learning and development programs and dynamic career paths.

3. Gen Z are highly analytical and pragmatic

Third on our list of Gen Z characteristics is their analytical and pragmatic nature. Despite the popular belief that they are flaky or lazy, Gen Zers actually want to get things done and often look for the most efficient and effective way to achieve their goals.

They embrace their digital skills and are always ready to use them to explore and evaluate different sources of information, solutions, or even novel ways of doing things.

Gen Zers’ pragmatism also makes them less idealistic and more oriented toward realistic solutions — a significant difference between them and millennials. This is advantageous in the workplace where companies must always make the most of the available resources.

Still, according to Silvia Enache, “They have a reputation amongst the people from the other generations that they are impatient, tending to treat things lightly with too much detachment. That is why communication is key to deeply understanding what the drivers of each generation are and how to work around the different approaches that they have, to jointly reach objectives.

4. Gen Z expect transparency

Gen Z’s desire for transparency, which is directly related to their appreciation for authenticity, also translates into their need for clear instructions and well-defined expectations regarding their job roles and duties.

According to Silvia Enache, “Even more than millennials, The Zoomers (as they are also called), look to their employers for stability and transparency in several ways. From pay and benefits to purpose and meaning of work done, managerial style and flexibility just to name a few.”

They want to have interactions and form relationships based on trust, both in their personal and professional life, and are more likely to be transparent about what they need or want.

Interestingly enough, and contrary to popular belief, studies have shown that Gen Zers actually prefer in-person communication over digital exchanges. This means that remote employers need to look at ways of offering face-to-face opportunities to connect and interact with their people.

Maybe what is most important is the fact that all generations, Gen Z in particular, expect the leaders to be emotionally intelligent showing a high dose of respect for the employees, while fostering trust and advocating for their needs.

Silvia Enache, Head of Human Resources at Bringo

5. Gen Z value autonomy and flexibility

Fifth on our list of Gen Z characteristics is the combination of autonomy and flexibility, which is also related to their tendency to be more self-reliant and confident in their abilities to handle tasks.

In the workplace, they expect to be allowed to work when, where, and how they want — as long as they deliver the expected results. It makes them ideal candidates for fully remote organizations and sees at least some of them become digital nomads.

It also means Gen Zers don’t do well in authoritarian environments and prefer non-hierarchical leadership and structures.

6. Gen Z love both collaboration and competition

On one hand, Gen Z have been raised in education systems and environments with a high focus on competition and rewarding top performers. This means they enjoy challenges that help and motivate them to grow and expand their skill set.

On the other hand, they are very social and collaborative, embracing the power of groups and communities, which means they want and like to solve problems together with peers and other like-minded people.

7. Gen Z prioritize work-life balance and stability

Seventh on our list of Gen Z characteristics is their deep desire for balance, stability, and security.

Gen Zers saw their parents struggle through the Great Recession and have grown up in a world that hasn’t really felt safe. This makes them prioritize a stable income, savings, and financial security. In the workplace, it translates into a strong expectation to be paid fairly and receive regular salary increases.

In terms of mental and emotional well-being, they are more aware of health issues in these areas and struggle more with managing stress than other generations. This, coupled with social media and the comparison game — or the “bigger, better, more” mentality — can put a lot of pressure on them to achieve success.

The end result? Gen Z want to do well at work but won’t sacrifice mental and physical health in the name of success and value having enough time to enjoy fulfilling activities and relationships outside work.

8. Gen Z have a desire for meaningful work

Gen Zers’ longing for meaning and fulfillment is also present in their work-related priorities and choices. They are more likely to join companies where they don’t feel like another cog in the corporate machine, companies they can actually relate to, and environments where their work makes a real difference.

An important aspect in this direction is the respect received from their peers and managers as well as the importance of being seen for who they really are, as their true self, not just as another employee or a number on an Excel sheet.

Another characteristic is their strong sense of (social) justice, which means Gen Z members are more likely to favor organizations that are actively involved in social or environmental endeavors. That’s because they want to feel proud of their workplace and want an employer whose values align with their own.

Gen Z are known for the fact that they value inclusive environments, autonomy, flexibility and feeling proud to work for the employer they chose. They strive for meaningful work and want to represent a company that is viewed in a positive light by their peers.

Silvia Enache, Head of HR at Bringo

9. Gen Z are eager for growth and development opportunities

Ninth on our list of Gen Z characteristics is their deep desire to grow, develop, and progress in their careers — and do it quickly. They are also less patient overall and have an increased expectation of being promoted faster or even multiple times a year. One of the reasons behind this is the fact that the world in which they’ve lived and grown up has been defined by fast-paced developments and shifts, especially (but not only) in the realm of technology.

They pay close attention to what organizations have to offer in terms of personal development plans, budgets, and career pathing. Also, Gen Zers aren’t afraid of leaving when they feel that their current employer doesn’t offer enough opportunities or simply isn’t aligned with their long-term professional ambitions. This manifests as the phenomenon of job hopping, or having short spells at different companies.

10. Gen Z have an entrepreneurial mindset

And last but not least is their entrepreneurial or can-do attitude. Largely influenced by self-made influencers and online creators, Gen Zers have learned that by leveraging digital skills they can launch their own companies or online brands faster than ever before.

Many of them have side hustles or are part of the gig economy and always look for ways of transforming passions into substantial streams of income.

Employers can take advantage of this entrepreneurial mindset by preparing talented individuals to become the leaders of tomorrow and listening to their perspectives to identify novel solutions to current business challenges.

Final thoughts

Harnessing the unique characteristics and potential of Gen Z in the workforce is quickly becoming paramount for organizations looking to thrive in the modern business landscape.

For HR professionals and people managers, understanding and adapting to Gen Zers’ values, expectations, and preferences can significantly impact talent attraction, engagement, performance, and retention — aspects that are as important as ever in the rapidly evolving world of work.

Make smart, fast, and confident decisions with Nestor's skills-based talent management solutions

Make smart, fast, and confident decisions with Nestor's skills-based talent management solutions