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News article2 March 2023European Labour Authority, Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion

Millennials and Gen Z in the workplace: similarities and differences

Millennials and Gen Z make up a large part of the European work force, each group having unique skills and characteristics. Learn more about their approach to work, so you can better recruit, retain and manage employees from these two demographics.

Millennials and Gen Z in the workplace: similarities and differences

Here at EURES, we are aware that the statements in this article do not apply to every Gen Z or millennial. Generalisations have been made to better illustrate the most common similarities and differences between the two groups.

Who are the millennials and Gen Z?

It is difficult to give an exact definition of these two demographics, as there is no common consensus on this. Overall, it can be said that millennials are people born roughly between 1981 and 1995, and Gen Z are those born approximately between 1995 and 2012.

Similarities between millennials and Gen Z at the workplace

  • Relying on technology

As digital natives, millennials and Gen Z are used to learning and using new devices and software. Both generations expect work processes to be digitised where possible, which also includes internal and external communication (chat, email and audio/video calls). Employers should be able to accommodate that if they want to be more attractive to millennial and Gen Z jobseekers.

  • Contributing to the greater good

According to the Deloitte Global 2022 Gen Z and Millennial Survey, both generations find corporate social responsibility important and want to work for companies and organisations that share their values. As both demographics tend to care about environmental and political issues, it is important for them that their employer makes a difference in their community.

  • Instant recognition of achievements

Both generations tend to expect instant acknowledgement for the work they have done. Recognising small wins through a performance-based scheme, for example, can be a great motivation booster for your employees.

  • Consistent and open communication

Studies suggest that both generations expect their employers to communicate with them clearly and to establish regular feedback channels (e.g. weekly catch-up meetings).

Differences between millennials and Gen Z at the workplace

  • Work−life balance versus career advancement

While millennials tend to value a healthy work−life balance, Gen Z tend to be more career-driven and financially motivated. So if your company’s employees consist mostly of millennials and Gen Z, you would do well to focus on benefits that contribute to work−life balance and on monetary incentives.

  • Job flexibility versus job stability

Studies show that millennials tend to favour job flexibility, which means they expect jobs to adapt to them. They are also more likely to change jobs if their employment no longer meets their needs. Meanwhile, Generation Z were hit harder by unemployment, which is why they tend to prefer job stability and security.

  • Affirmative versus direct feedback

As mentioned above, both generations value regular feedback. However, while Gen Z prefer straightforward feedback, millennials tend to be more sensitive to criticism and respond better to feedback delivered with encouragement and positivity.

  • Written/visual communication versus videos

Both generations prefer different forms of communication based on their preferred social media platforms. For example, millennials are much more likely to use Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, so they respond better to text-based and visual communication (images). Meanwhile, Gen Z prefer short-form video communication, as they tend to favour platforms like YouTube and TikTok. This is something to bear in mind when advertising job vacancies or preparing internal communications/trainings for your employees.

Sharing negative feedback can be challenging, but it is an important part of managing employees, and can strengthen your relationship if delivered in the right way. Read this article to find out how you can achieve this.


Related links:

Gen Z 'Stans' Feedback - Here's How to Structure It Best

How to sensitively deliver negative feedback to employees

The Deloitte Global 2022 Gen Z and Millennial Survey


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