Move Over, Millennials

Six in 10 executives give Generation Z workers a thumbs up, far surpassing the generation preceding them.

They’re optimistic. They’re purpose-driven. And they’re not really stressed out.

Your millennial-aged coworkers? Try your even younger colleagues.

The first wave of Generation Z—those born between 1997 and 2010—have begun entering the workforce, and they seem to be making a positive impression on their new coworkers. In a new Korn Ferry survey, 60% of professionals of all ages say Gen Z is more optimistic about the future than millennials. More than half say that Gen Z members will bring more motivation to their work than millennials do and that Gen Z will place more emphasis on whether their work has purpose. To Korn Ferry senior director Mark Royal, people believe the younger group is “ready to take on the world.”

It’s a far cry from when millennials first started entering the workforce in the early 2000s. Indeed, there were countless articles about how older workers viewed millennials as entitled, lazy, self-absorbed, and disloyal to their employers. Those stereotypes have been dispelled (or at least not expressed so openly any longer since many millennials are now bosses). Nevertheless, experts say it’s noteworthy that Gen Zers do not have those stigmas hanging over them when they enter the workforce.

Professionals also viewed Gen Zers as less anxious than millennials. Two-thirds of the respondents say millennials are more stressed. Royal attributes some of that to the different events that each generation came of age with. Millions of millennials were in the early stages of their careers when the Great Recession began in 2007, while their parents were still in the middle or latter stages of their careers. Between 2007 and 2009, many lost their jobs, fell behind on their finances, or experienced other hardships that persisted for years.

Generation Z members, on the other hand, weren’t even in high school yet when the economy started to recover in 2009. “We have seen nearly a decade of prosperity, and that is what members of Gen Z experienced in their formative years,” Royal says.

Survey respondents were split on which generation values work-life balance more and which generation will be easier to work with. But nearly two-thirds—65%—say millennials are more motivated by moving up quickly in their careers than Generation Z members are. “Each new generation entering the workforce brings with it unique attributes and challenges,” says 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.”