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You've finally figured out how to attract millennials to your franchise. That's great, but... well, it's Gen Z you have get to now—and they're a whole different crowd.

Related: Franchise marketing best practices for 2019

Generally, the workplace has been changing for years, and those changes are ramping up. Since 2016, baby boomers have been retiring at a rate of around 10,000 per day. Millennials now constitute 30% of the workforce and are moving into leadership & management roles.

Meanwhile, Generation Z is entering the workforce with an "always-on" outlook that's shaking up the franchise scene.

Gen Z vs. millennials—what's the difference?

Millennials (born during the 1980s and early '90s) share both differences & similarities with those in Gen Z (born during the late '90s and 2000s). The first arrivals of Gen Z are graduating college and searching for jobs. It's likely to be millennials who hire and oversee them—and millennials now represent the majority of clients and customers, especially in high-tech fields.

Not sure where you fall? Here's a quick reference table to help you calculate your generation.

Generation Births from Coming of age
The G.I. Generation – Greatest Generation 1900 1918 – 1942
The Silent Generation – Lucky Few 1925 1943 – 1963
The Baby Boom Generation – Baby Boomers 1946 1964 – 1983
Generation X – Latchkey Kids 1966 1984 – 1997
Generation Y – Millennials 1980 1998 – 2012
Generation Z – Gen Next 1995 2013 – 2034

One crucial difference is Gen Z's lack of enthusiasm for formal education. They would rather watch a YouTube how-to than take a formal class, and fewer of them are going to college—partly due to the high costs of higher education. Many of them have watched their older siblings take on large student loans and aren't eager to saddle themselves with that much debt.

At the same time, these quick-witted multi-taskers are ready to spend the money made from their new careers and side hustles. It might be wise to hire a few Gen-Zers and find out more about their values & preferences when it comes to work & money.

Gen Z and millennials co-existing at work

Millennials are now craving job security more than change, thanks to economic uncertainty during their childhood and teenage years. Gen Z is motivated by this and other factors, as well.

  • Job security and a stable work environment attract this younger crowd—and that's something franchises can provide.
  • Gen Z is already more competitive, a trait that suits some workplaces better than others who prefer a more collaborative approach.
  • This new generation is independent & entrepreneurial (more than 55% want to start a new business), while millennials value work-life balance & flexibility.
  • Generally, Millennials prefer email to in-person communication, but Generation Z likes personal interaction.

It'll be fascinating to see how this dynamic evolves between millennials and Gen Z.

What do they share? Although many millennials grew up with landline telephones and slow/no internet at home, they adapted quickly to digital technology. Now, neither of these hyper-connected generations want to live without their phones.

Different things are important to Generation Z

Generation Z highly values several different things from the preceding generation, including:

  • Privacy. After seeing their predecessors get in trouble by oversharing or being hacked, Gen Zers are warier about the digital world. To promote an open culture, franchise owners might need to first win the trust of these younger workers.
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  • Multi-tasking. Gen Z takes multi-tasking to new heights. Whereas millennials want two screens to feel productive, the digital natives in Gen Z want four. This could lead to concentration issues when Gen Zers are offscreen. It's normal to see them scanning the room and looking at their phones while carrying on conversation. This can take some getting used to and may prompt policy changes if it becomes a problem.
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  • Hyper-aware. Gen Z minds often bounce like ping-pong balls in several dimensions at once. This can work to the advantage of employers when combined with detail-heavy projects.
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  • Stress-free workplace. Gen Zers are reporting higher stress levels than their parents. As they enter the workforce, keep in mind that this generation is more open to discussing mental health and how to reduce stress in the workplace.
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  • Technology. Gen Zers believe that most problems have technical solutions. From doing their taxes on a smartphone to ordering groceries in an app, they're always on the lookout for better, quicker ways to get things done.

Modern work spaces

The modern workplace is changing structurally, too. Developing a sleek, comfortable workspace can help attract Gen Z employees, and it's equally important to millennials.

  • Modernized offices with open-concept designs can incorporate varied work surfaces and standing desks. Since workers desire more natural lighting, dark cubicles are being phased out in favor of open rows or pods. This openness can inspire collaboration and creative thinking.
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  • Incorporate IoT technology in the workplace. For example, smart sitting/standing desks can tell Gen Zers when to get up and walk more, as well as help them keep track of their calendars & projects.

Connecting to millennial customers

Generation Z comprises tech-savvy, motivated newcomers who can help you predict what your franchise's millennial customers want. The perpetual connectedness shared by both generations gives Gen Z an easier understanding of millennial values & language.

Franchises should make sure they're available on Instagram, Facebook, and other select social platforms. Millennials want to do business with brands that understand technology, so hiring Gen Z employees can help brands deliver a more satisfying customer experience.

This new generation is likely to leave an indelible impression on the workplace, making it more flexible, responsive and connected than ever. Forward-thinking businesses will make updates now to accommodate Gen Z preferences and position themselves for future success.

Give your new franchisees a head start with our free ebook: The franchise owner's field guide to success

Franchise owner's field guide to success

Author Bio

Laura Gayle is a full-time blogger who has ghostwritten more than 350 articles for major software companies, tech startups, and online retailers. Founder of Business Woman Guide, she created her site to be a trusted resource for women trying to start or grow businesses on their own terms. She has written about everything from crowdfunding and inventory management to product launches, cybersecurity trends, web analytics, and innovations in digital marketing.