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Generation Z

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore
This definition is part of our Essential Guide: It's a millennial workforce -- here's what HR pros need to know

Generation Z is the demographic cohort following Generation Y, also known as the Millennials or the Millennial Generation; other names suggested for the cohort include iGeneration (iGen)Gen TechGen WiiNet GenDigital Natives and Plurals.

The dates given for Generation Z range from the mid-1990s through the second decade of this century, although precise years vary according to the source. At over two billion individuals, Generation Z is the most populous generational cohort of all time.

In common with Millennials, Generation Z is comfortable with technologies that are fairly recent for older generations, and Gen Z has grown up in the current environment of ubiquitous mobile communications. The younger members of the cohort may not remember any other environment. As of 2015, 77 percent aged 12-to-17 in the United States owned cell phones. Not surprisingly, texting is the cohort’s preferred communication mode, followed by social media interaction.

Other characteristics of Generation Z as a cohort within the U.S., in contrast with earlier generations:

  • More racial diversity.
  • Less traditional (nuclear) family backgrounds, more single-parent and same-sex parent families.
  • More likely to have friends from various ethnic, religious and racial groups.
  • More risk-adverse.
  • Less confident in the current economic system.
  • More inclined to entrepreneurialism.
  • More religious.
  • Spend more time online.
  • Use phones more than television for entertainment.

In the workplace, Generation Z expects greater flexibility and the capacity to work remotely, collaboratively and seamlessly across their various devices. Making a meaningful contribution to the world is also important to the cohort. Gen Z individuals expect to have their input welcomed and respected, and are less tolerant of authoritarian environments such as a hierarchical corporate culture.

Generation X was named to represent an unknown factor, and Y and Z were selected as the letters following X. One suggested name for the cohort following Gen Z is Generation Alpha.

See Thomas Koulopoulos' presentation, Gen Z and predicting the future of behavior and technology:

This was last updated in April 2016

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