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Gen Z Arriving in the Workforce Determined to Win

person using smart phone

Article Date: September 12, 2019

Most of us, by now, have read or seen something about how the young millennials have sent shockwaves through corporate culture as they bring a different set of work behaviors and priorities to the workplace.

In a previous HIVE article, Eight Ways Younger Millennial Architects are Changing the Game, LarsonO’Brien’s Dave Sladack and Nick Murosky focused on the emergence of the millennial architect and the significant impact this generation is having in the business world – particularly at architectural firms. But we sometimes need to be reminded that the millennial generation covers an age range between 25-39 and the majority of this generation has already entered the workforce. In fact, the older millennial spectrum is actually approaching their prime working years. But, there hasn’t been much conversation about the emerging workforce for whom millennials will soon be faced with managing and cultivating talent – Generation Z – a generation that is serious about success.

Gen Z is comprised of people born between 1995-2010, making the oldest portion of this generation 24 years old in 2019. This means Gen Z has actually been entering the professional workforce for two years already. So, what do we know about them and how will their value system impact the building products category?

To gain a perspective on Gen Z, Nick Murosky spoke again to Dave Sladack, CMO at LarsonO’Brien and here's what he found:

Influenced by Gen X

First of all, as millennials were influenced by their baby boomer parents, Gen Z had their values shaped by their Gen X parents and other mentors from that generation. According to the research company Barna Group (, Gen Z sees their parents and other family members as the type of hard-working, educated, responsible providers for whom they admire.

Gen Xers experienced both the 90s recession and the ‘09 Great Recession and it shaped their values around pragmatism, cynicism, independence, and the need for career and financial success to take precedence. Their Gen Z children witnessed their parents and other family members navigating through double-digit unemployment and underwater mortgages during the Great Recession. Gen Z saw parents and other family members lose jobs or how they were much harder to maintain – often with 2-income parents or a single parent working multiple jobs to provide for their family. This impacted Gen Z to be more motivated and serious, prioritizing education and career aspirations to offer more control over their future successes.

Competitive and Driven to be Successful

Having shaped their own values through their early family experiences, Gen Z embraces hard work and unlike some millennials, understands that you have to earn what you get. This is a generation focused on personal success. Citing the Barna study, Gen Z lists top goals being an education, career, and financial independence – all before age 30. The study reveals that Gen Z sees the primary mark of adulthood being financial independence – a mark that is far higher compared to their millennial counterparts (42% vs. 25%).

The Most Digitally-Native Generation

Millennials are often thought of as digital natives, but they were not introduced to technology as early and frequently as Gen Z. This is a generation who had a technology security blanket their entire life. They grew up as the first generation to develop their social and learning skills through a mobile device and a social platform. And they are bringing high expectations for technology to the workforce. Email is no longer the go-to communication method. Comfortable with apps and texting, chat platforms and mobile-based collaboration apps are the preferred channels. Operating systems like Microsoft, with their Teams functionality and SharePoint, are primed to be popular tools with the Gen Z crowd.

So how do you prepare for this success-driven, tech-native, highly motivated emerging worker? Consider upgrading your office technology, dust off those goal-driven employee growth plans, and welcome them with open arms! The future is bright as a smart, determined generation is beginning to enter the building products workforce.

BLD Marketing is a results-based, digitally-focused, full-service strategic marketing firm exclusively serving the commercial and residential building materials category.