News, Analysis, Trends, Management Innovations for
Clinical Laboratories and Pathology Groups

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News, Analysis, Trends, Management Innovations for
Clinical Laboratories and Pathology Groups

Hosted by Robert Michel
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Gen Z Set to Outnumber Baby Boomers and Will Be 75% of the Workforce within the Next Year, Report States

Zoomers’ unique approach to work and personal health could affect clinical laboratory workplaces, how staff is managed, and how they personally use lab tests

Would it surprise you to learn that Generation Z is poised to make up 75% of the workforce in the United States by 2025? This fact has many implications for clinical laboratories, genetic testing companies, and pathology practices. That’s because Zoomers, as they are called, will be dominant in two ways. First, they will make up the majority of the lab workforce. Second, they will be the majority of consumers and patients accessing medical laboratory testing services.

Zoomers (born 1997-2012) approach work and their own healthcare differently than previous generations. This is partly due to Zoomers being “digital natives who have little or no memory of the world as it existed before smartphones,” according to Pew Research.

Now, a recently released report by economic research firm Glassdoor on 2024 workplace trends states that Zoomers are about to overtake Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) in the full-time workforce, and that the shift will “represent a pivotal moment of cultural change that US companies cannot ignore.” This includes clinical laboratories and pathology groups that employ them.

According to Glassdoor, Gen Z workers “care deeply about community connections, about having their voices heard in the workplace, about transparent and responsive leadership, and about diversity and inclusion.”

Zoomers bring unique requirements and attitudes to the workplace, but they may also be the fresh infusion of talent a shrinking healthcare workforce needs. It’s no secret that clinical laboratories and pathology groups are facing a labor shortage. An aging workforce combined with burnout from the COVID-19 pandemic have left the entire healthcare industry scrambling for workers.

“A recent survey by Elsevier Health predicts that up to 75% of healthcare workers will leave the profession by 2025. And a 2020 study conducted by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) projected a shortfall of up to 139,000 physicians by 2033,” Medscape reported.

In “Clinical Laboratories Suffer During the Great Resignation,” Dark Daily noted other causes that are behind the abundance of open positions, such as early retirements, graduating individuals experiencing more specialized training programs, and a shift in the way the current working generation views employment.

Thus, the current healthcare workplace should not only expect unique challenges as Zoomers take over, but also changes that come with adapting to a smaller, younger workforce.

Mark Beal

“[Gen Z] will pressure employers to establish a company’s purpose in a way that contributes to a better society and prioritize a company’s purpose along with profits,” Mark Beal (above), Assistant Professor of Professional Practice and Communication at Rutgers University, told Forbes. “Having succeeded at remote learning, they will influence an increased transition to hybrid and remote work as well as the four-day work week.” Clinical laboratories that understand Zoomers’ motivations will likely have more success integrating them into their workforce. (Photo copyright: Rutgers University.)

Generational Shift in Healthcare

Zoomers are the most technically-minded generation yet, especially considering they had to master remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. And, as we reported in “Despite Technical Challenges During COVID-19 Pandemic, Healthcare Networks Plan to Increase Investment in Telehealth Technologies,” healthcare systems that have increased their investment in telehealth technologies may benefit greatly from having these tech-savvy workers on board.

However, there could be unique challenges with a Zoomer workforce as well. According to Forbes, more than half of these new workers are willing to leave their jobs over “dissatisfaction with fulfillment (59%), professional development (57%), and providing value (53%).”

Although this may make some older workers scoff, each generation has entered the workforce with its own unique perspective based on personal values, and the workplace has shifted and changed to reflect the new workers. The same can be said of the clinical laboratory and pathology workforces.

The chart above shows the different generations as a proportion of the total population of the United States as of 2025. It dramatically illustrates why the largest number of working age individuals will be from Generation Z (aka, Zoomers). With their unique interests and traits, Zoomers will want their workplaces to be responsive in ways that are much different than the generations that preceded them. This will be equally true of how Gen Z accesses clinical laboratory testing services. (Graphic copyright: The Wall Street Journal.)

Gen Z Likes Automation

Another aspect to the increasing Zoomer workforce is Gen Z’s comfort with automated technology. Automation has always shifted how clinical laboratories work, and it can have great benefits for clinical pathology as well.

According to Today’s Clinical Lab, automation reduces error rates by more than 70% and reduces the time needed for each staff member per specimen by 10%.

However, the benefit does not come from automation replacing workers, rather that automated processes reduce repetitive work that takes time and attention away from workers. And, as noted, Gen Z workers tend to be extremely tech-savvy given the prevalence of technology in their lives.

Automation could fill gaps when it comes to labor shortages, not by replacing workers, but by helping adjust the workflow and avoiding worker burnout by automating tedious tasks. And Gen Z workers may be uniquely suited to engage with automated testing technologies.

Evolving Healthcare Workplaces

“The coming year will … represent a pivotal moment of cultural change that US companies cannot ignore as Gen Z workers—who care deeply about community connections, about having their voices heard in the workplace, about transparent and responsive leadership, and about diversity and inclusion—make up a rapidly growing share of the workforce,” the Glassdoor report stated, adding that 2024 “will test the robustness of workplace institutions,” The Hill reported.

Clinical laboratory managers and pathologists will be managing a multi-generational workforce, each with its own attributes and requirements. Thus, lab managers will need to reflect these difference in the management decisions they make and how they organize the laboratory workplace.

—Ashley Croce

Related Information:

Gen Z Set to Pass Baby Boomers in Workforce: Report

Glassdoor’s 2024 Workplace Trends

Physicians May Retire En Masse Soon. What Does That Mean for Medicine?

Clinical Laboratories Suffer During the Great Resignation

How Gen Z’s Impact on the Workplace Continues to Grow

Despite Technical Challenges During COVID-19 Pandemic, Healthcare Networks Plan to Increase Investment in Telehealth Technologies

Should Lab Staff Be Concerned about Automation?

Understanding Gen Z’s Approach to Healthcare Helps Clinical Laboratories Learn How to Better Meet Their Needs

Healthcare providers of all types will benefit from acknowledging Gen Z’s preference for digital interactions, self-testing, and over-the-counter medications

Each generation has its own unique connection to how it manages its health, and the latest studies into the healthcare habits of Generation Z (aka, Gen Z or Zoomers) are providing valuable insight that savvy clinical laboratory managers and pathologists—in fact all healthcare providers—can use to better serve their Gen Z patients.

According to McKinsey and Company, Gen Z’s “identity has been shaped by the digital age, climate anxiety, a shifting financial landscape, and COVID-19.” And Pew Research states that Zoomers “are also digital natives who have little or no memory of the world as it existed before smartphones.”

As the largest demographic, “Gen Z stands 2.6 billion members strong. … Globally, they hold purchasing power of more than $500 billion and mobile buying power of $143 billion,” wrote Stacy Rapacon, Managing Editor at Senior Executive Media, in an article she penned for HP’s The Garage.

Meeting Gen Zers’ healthcare needs on their terms would seem to be a judicious choice.

Bernhard Schroeder

“Gen-Z’s buying power may exceed $3 trillion,” wrote Bernhard Schroeder (above), a clinical lecturer on integrated/online marketing at San Diego State University, in Forbes. “Their spending ability exceeds the gross domestic product of all but about 25 of the world’s countries.” Thus, it behooves healthcare leaders, including clinical laboratory managers and pathologists, to consider how best to approach treating Gen Z patients. (Photo copyright: San Diego State University.)

Gen Z Leads in Digital Healthcare Use, Self-testing, OTC Drugs

“Gen Z engages in every type of digital healthcare activity more than other generations,” a recent study by PYMNTS noted. A total of 2,735 consumers were surveyed, and though all reported using digital healthcare to some degree, Gen Z stood out.

Patient portal access was the highest digital method accessed by Zoomers (62%), followed by telemedicine appointment usage (55%), the PYMNTS report found.

Knowing the direction Gen Z is trending may lead clinical laboratory leaders to expect self-testing to be on the rise, and that hunch would be correct. “There are two converging trends; the rise of women’s health technology and increased use of at-home sample collection for diagnosis tests,” Clinical Lab Products reported.

“Ongoing innovation in these areas could significantly improve the accessibility of women’s health testing. It will also have repercussions for labs, potentially changing the way samples are received and processed, and the way results are distributed. The quantity and quality of samples may be impacted, too. It’s important for labs to be aware of likely developments so they can prepare, and potentially collaborate with the health technology companies driving change,” CLP noted.

Another area feeling the impact of Gen Z’s healthcare spending is the over-the-counter (OTC) drug market.

“Since the pandemic began, more Americans are paying closer attention to their symptoms and looking for easily accessible information about over-the-counter medications, especially for allergies, coughs, and headaches,” said Kim Castro, Editor and Chief Content Officer for US News and World Report, in a press release.

Zoomers Want Healthcare on Their Own Terms

Gen Z grew up with the internet, Amazon, Netflix, Google, and social media since birth.

“The ‘norm’ they experienced as children was a world that operated at speed, scale, and scope. They developed an early facility with powerful digital tools that allowed them to be self-reliant as well as collaborative,” anthropologist Roberta Katz, PhD, a senior research scholar at Stanford’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) told Stanford News.

As digital natives, Gen Z can be more science and data driven and yet still expect to find health advice on YouTube or TikTok. According to an article published by Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare, “Gen Z is the first generation to grow up surrounded by digital devices, and they expect their health benefits to be digital, too. From choosing a benefits package to finding a provider, Gen Z wants to take care of their health on their own terms. And that may just include video chatting with a doctor from the back of an Uber.”

In its 2022 US Digital Health Survey, research firm Insider Intelligence found that “Half of Gen Z adults turn to social media platforms for health-related purposes, either all the time or often.”

“Gen-Z will make up 31% of the world’s population by 2021 and they have deeply formed perceptions and beliefs … This has led to an amazing change in the way Gen-Z is disrupting several industries simultaneously,” wrote Bernhard Schroeder (above), a clinical lecturer on integrated/online marketing at San Diego State University, in Forbes.

What Can Clinical Laboratories Learn from These Findings

Gen Z seeks accuracy and trustworthy information. “Gen-Zers’ natural penchant for skepticism and frugality—coupled with low levels of confidence in the US healthcare system—makes them less likely to trust providers, more likely to research prices before seeking care, and more apt to worry that their health insurance won’t cover their treatment,” Insider Intelligence noted.

According to Contract Pharma, “Gen Z is concerned with holistic health and self-care, rather than a one size fits all pharmaceutical approach. They share a hesitancy for traditional healthcare models but with very interesting differences. By understanding these differences, the consumer healthcare industry can focus on agile and distinctive brands to harness Gen Z’s tremendous purchasing power.”

Savvy clinical laboratory leaders can better serve their Gen-Z client physicians and patients by better understanding why Zoomers are more inclined to order their own lab tests (without a physician), collect their own specimens to send into labs, and/or collect their own specimens to do home testing (think COVID-19 self-test kits). Zoomers may need an entirely new business model from their healthcare providers, including clinical laboratories.

Kristin Althea O’Connor

Related Information:

What is Gen Z?

On the Cusp of Adulthood and Facing an Uncertain Future: What We Know about Gen Z So Far

How Gen Z is Redefining Their World through Technology

Gen Z Is ‘Generation Digital Health’ as 62% Use Digital Patient Portals

What Self-Sampling for Women’s Health Testing Means for Labs

US News Top Recommended Over-the-Counter Health Products

Gen Z Are Not ‘Coddled.’ They Are Highly Collaborative, Self-Reliant and Pragmatic, According to New Stanford-Affiliated Research

Who is Gen Z and How Are They Shaping the Future of Health Benefits?

Generation Z: Transforming Consumer Healthcare

Gen Z’s Take on Healthcare

US Generation Z Healthcare Behaviors

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