Gen Z values differ from previous generations’ values and medical laboratory managers should know in advance how members of this generation are likely to view their new workplaces

Medical laboratories managers and pathology group stakeholders have long been concerned about the looming retirement of Baby Boomers working in America’s clinical laboratories. With more and more members of this age group leaving the workforce, and with the following Gen X and Gen Y workers moving into positions vacated by Boomers, the next generation of workers—Generation Z (Gen Z)—is arriving to fill the gap.

This newest, youngest generation brings unique attributes and values to the clinical laboratory industry. Laboratory managers, pathologists, and business leaders need to understand those characteristics to work with them effectively.

Gen Z Values Reflect the Turbulent Times We Live In

With the addition of this newest age group in corporate America, there are now four distinct generations simultaneously working in the marketplace:

1.     Baby Boomers (born early- to mid-1940s to early-1960s;

2.     Generation X (born mid-1960s to early-1980s);

3.     Generation Y (Millennials: born mid-1980s to early-1990s); and

4.     Generation Z (Centennials: born mid-1990s to the mid-2000s).

A poll conducted by Ernst and Young LLP (EY) of London for the US Oil and Gas industry found that members of Gen Z have “fairly traditional” career priorities, however their values have been shaped by the nation’s struggles.

“When asked which three considerations are the most important in selecting a future career, both Millennials and Generation Z, as whole, prioritized salary (56%), good work-life balance (49%), job stability (37%), and on-the-job happiness (37%),” the EY survey reported.

Even though they are often clumped together with Millennials (Gen Y), recent research shows that the two generations are vastly different.

“Gen Z employees bring unique values, expectations, and perspectives to their jobs,” Paul McDonald, Senior Executive Director at staffing firm Robert Half, stated in a news release. “They’ve grown up in economically turbulent times, and many of their characteristics and motivations reflect that.”

Move over Baby Boomers! You no longer are the largest proportion of the population of the United States. According to the US Census Bureau, Generation Z (AKA, iGen and Post Millennials) make up about 25% of the US population or approximately 70-million people. However, it is estimated that by 2021, Gen Z will total 40% of all consumers in the US and account for one-fifth of the workforce. This youngest generation is now entering the clinical laboratory workforce in growing numbers. (Graphic copyright: Oklahoma Minerals.)

Though Millennials represent the largest portion of the workforce in America, Gen Z is the largest population of people overall and it’s growing. The oldest members will have reached the age of 21 in 2016-2017. Many will be graduating from college and seeking employment opportunities.

Gen Z Members are Technically Savvy; Seek Job Security/Stability

Members of Gen Z are familiar and fluent with computers, technology, and the Web. Therefore, business websites and social media presence are things they will examine when researching companies for job opportunities. Living in a world of perpetual updates and real-time communications makes them quick at processing information. Centennials also tend to be first-rate multitaskers, capable of focusing while numerous distractions occur around them.

“This group of professionals has grown up with technology available to them around the clock and is accustomed to constant learning,” McDonald stated in the Robert Half news release. “Companies with a solid understanding of this generation’s values and preferences will be well prepared to create work environments that attract a new generation of employees and maximize their potential.”

Stability and job security seem to be more important for Gen Z than it is for Gen Y. A recent study by staffing firm Adecco found that 70% of Gen Z prefer a stable work environment over one that offers passion, but little security.

“They saw their grandparents have to go back to work or their parents have struggles during the financial crisis,” noted McDonald in a MarketWatch article. “They want to work for companies long-term in their career.”

Where millennials are known to change jobs frequently, a 2015 study conducted by Robert Half found that centennials plan to work for only four companies in their entire careers. The same study also found that Generation Z prefer to work in business office environments instead of working remotely.

Centennials are also more interested in the values and fairness of their bosses and the company mission statements. Equal pay, promotions, and accolades need to be equitable across all genders, races, and other differences. Generation Z is also entrepreneurial and creative and they desire to interact with people in person.

“Be prepared to spend time with them face to face,” McDonald stated. “They want to be mentored and coached. If you coach them, you’re going to retain them.”

Gen Z Politics are Mixed

Generation Z also differs from Millennials in the political arena. In a New York Post column, Jeff Brauer, Professor of Political Science at Keystone College in La Plume, Penn., indicated that Generation Z is liberal on some issues while being conservative on other issues.

“Politically, Generation Z is liberal-moderate with social issues like support for marriage, equality, and civil rights, and moderate-conservative with fiscal and security issues,” Brauer stated. “While many are not connected to the two major parties and lean independent, Gen Z’s inclinations generally fit moderate Republicans.”

Brauer’s research found that members of Gen Z tend to value economic stability and security higher than the previous generation because they have grown up in an era peppered with terror threats, a shaky economy, and mass school shootings.

“This generation is different, and they are about to have a profound impact on commerce, politics, and trends,” stated Brauer in the NY Post column. “If politicians and business leaders aren’t paying attention yet, they better, because [Centennials] are about to change the world.”

As Generation Z comes of age, more of them will be working in the medical professions. Clinical laboratories and anatomic pathology groups would be well advised to prepare their businesses by adjusting leadership, adapting recruiting efforts, and shifting marketing to attract Centennials and remain relevant and successful in the future.

—JP Schlingman

Related Information:

The Secrets to Hiring and Managing Gen Z

Why the Generation After Millennials Will Vote Republican

Move Over Millennials, Members of Generation Z are Ready to Work

Eight Key Differences Between Gen Z and Millennials

Gen Z White Paper: The State of Gen Z 2017 National Research Study

What is Generation Z, and What Does It Want?

Gen Z Nothing Like Millennials, Prof Warns Liberals

Generation Z is Entering the Workforce: What does This Mean for Management?

Births: Provisional Data for 2016

The Six Living Generations in America

Wisdom of Hiring Across the Six Living Generations in America and the World

Generation Z: Five Surprising Insights