Generational Expectations In The Workplace: Gen Z Vs. Millennials

Millennials vs. Gen Z Workplace Expectations Supportedly Blog

Millennials and Gen Zer’s have different work-life expectations in the workplace and limitations than their older counterparts (Gen Xers and boomers, respectively) — there’s just no getting around it. But it’s crucial to your small business’s success to understand these expectations so you can minimize the risk of hiring bad fits. 

If you’re not personally of these generations, managing them might seem like a daunting task. After all, if you’re not able to relate to their professional experiences and how they see the world, how will you be able to appeal to them? 

While there are several key differences when it comes to expectations in the workplace for each generation, remember that every employee is unique. No one person, regardless of generation, is going to fit into every single box we lay out below.

Let’s walk through some of the differences when it comes to hiring, motivating, and managing these two generations in the workplace.

How To Hire Them

Nothing can bring more growth and relief for your company than hiring. But when it comes to hiring Gen Z’ers or millennials, there are a few notable differences to keep top of mind.

When deciding to accept a job, the most important factors for both generations include salary and work-life balance. But millennials tend to value experiences and benefits that contribute to a healthy work relationship, while Gen Z’ers often value career advancement more and are willing to undergo as much training as necessary to land a job.

It’s also important to keep in mind how to get your job listing in the hands of each generation. Job boards are still the No. 1 way to attract millennials seeking employment, but for Gen Z, hiring events are one of the most valuable resources. Maintaining relationships on your local college campus can be key to attracting this demographic. 

How To Motivate Them

Each generation has its own motivations when it comes to their job. For Gen Z, that motivation is typically monetary. Think of incentives for them like salary raises and career advancement opportunities that help them rake in that sweet, sweet money. For millennials, it almost always goes back to work-life balance. Their incentives should be things like flexible work schedules, additional paid time off, and flexible benefits (allowing employees to choose the benefits that fit their personal needs.

Besides incentives, giving constructive feedback about work performance can be challenging for any employee, but it should almost always help motivate. Millennials prefer positive and encouraging feedback, while Gen Z’ers prefer more straightforward feedback that is clear and upfront.

How To Manage Them

Probably one of the most vital things to note when it comes to managing millennials and Gen Z’ers is their digital know-how. Companies can no longer shy away from technology if they want to employ these two generations. In fact, companies should celebrate the tech-savvy generations and use their skills to their advantage. Your business processes need to be digitized (and mobile-friendly!) because these two generations pretty much expect it.

Here are a few other key differences to recognize when it comes to managing each generation.


  • Millennials need flexibility and mobility in all parts of their job.
  • Don’t tie millennials down to one singular role in your company. Instead, make them dynamic employees and help them discover and try other roles within your organization.
  • Millennials have a big-picture mentality. That means they need to understand how the smaller tasks they’re doing for you tie into the bigger picture of your company mission.

Gen Z:

  • Gen Z puts a high priority on workplace ethics. Your mission needs to include diversity and inclusion to make them feel aligned.
  • Gen Z needs their management to have social awareness. This should include a commitment to important current affairs, such as human rights and healthcare.
  • Due to their lack in practical, hands-on experience, Gen Z needs to be given multiple training opportunities to learn new skills. This correlates with the need for a clear path of advancement.

We’re all individuals that may or may not conform to many of the key identifiers mentioned above that are tied into our generations. 

A quick and easy way to figure out a prospective candidate’s expectations in the workplace? Ask them questions like, “What are your work/life balance goals?” and “Describe for me your ideal work environment and work schedule?” Questions like these will help you better understand what candidates expect from the role and help you avoid the rookie mistake of hoping that a candidate will simply conform to the role’s expectations. 

Have a question related to this topic or anything else?