The rise of mega-corporations in the 1980s ushered in a commensurate awareness of the importance of company culture. In order for companies to succeed, it became apparent that everyone had to be on board with the accepted cultural perspective. Corporate culture continues to evolve today, even as millennials and Generation Z are slowly but surely taking over.
Millennials are generally considered people who reached adulthood at some point following the turn of the 21st century. Their birth years span 1981 through 1996. Generation Z is comprised of people born between 1996 and 2010. Though it may surprise you, what is important to these two groups in terms of company culture is quite different.
The U.S. was at the trailing edge of a 15-year economic boom when the calendar turned from 1999 to 2000. Just as many millennials were finally getting ready to begin their careers, the housing crash and subsequent economic collapse followed. Many of them found they were unable to get jobs in their chosen fields. Some couldn't get jobs at all.
As such, corporate culture for millennials these days centers around what is commonly referred to as the work-life balance. Millennials are more than willing to contribute to a successful workplace, but they do not want to give their lives entirely over to their employers. They want to give employers their due, then go home and forget about work so they can concentrate on their families.
Typical to the millennial corporate culture are things like flexible work schedules, unlimited paid time off, and a host of workplace perks like free lunch, lounges, and foosball tables. Just imagine what it might be like to work for Google or Apple and you have a good idea of what millennials value in terms of corporate culture.
Generation Z Values
The oldest of Generation Z workers turns 23 this year. That means the first college graduates of this generation are just getting into the workforce. Those who didn't go to college may have a few years of work experience under their belts already.
What's important to this generation? According to the Houston Business Journal's Jill Chapman, there are three things:
- Security – Every generation is looking for job security, but Gen Z takes it to a new level. They want their employers to find ways to make sure that no one ever has to worry about losing a job.
- Technology – While millennials may have been exposed to technology during their childhoods, their Gen Z counterparts have never known a world without it. They expect technology to be part of whatever they do at work.
- Multitasking – Gen Z is a generation that was raised on distractions. As such, they are very used to multitasking. A Gen Z worker with a single task is likely to get bored very quickly. Today's younger workers need lots of different things to keep their minds occupied.
One thing Chapman did not discuss is the belief among Gen Z workers that their employers should be agents of social change. A 2018 Deloitte survey cited by the Illinois CPA Society drives home that point quite clearly. Generation Z workers are not enamored with the corporate beast like their grandparents and great grandparents were. They believe companies have as much responsibility to making the world a better place as they do earning profits.
As you can see, millennials and Gen Zers view corporate culture differently. The task is to create a culture that balances the needs of both. Failing to do so will create problems in the modern workplace.