Mythbusters: Millennials and Gen Zers Aren’t that Different, According to this Data

We surveyed Millennials and Gen Zers, and the results were surprising

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Four workplace myths ⁠— BUSTED ⁠— and the data to prove it

Here's what you need to know:

  • Millennials comprise of 35% of the total workforce
  • Gen Zers comprise of 5% of the total workforce
  • Combined, they are the largest generations working
  • Small businesses are evaluating how they recruit, what benefits they provide, and work culture to attract a younger workforce
  • Gen Zers and Millennials would rather to work for a company whose values/mission they align with than take a job with a higher salary

Turns out, Gen Zers might not be as different from Millennials as we thought.

According to new Zenefits workplace research that polled 400 full-time and part-time U.S. workers between the ages of 18 and 37 years old, the nation’s two youngest working generations (Millennials and Gen Zers) are really quite similar when it comes to a variety of workplace measures like:

  • How they work
  • Their relationship with their boss
  • Their opinions on social media and business

This is important if your company considers generational differences with respect to hiring and recruiting, and the results of the research may change your strategy.

Why do we care about generational differences?

Many companies develop benefits packages that speak directly to the age of talent they’re trying to recruit; a strategic move.

Knowing which levers to pull, and how to pull them, is particularly important when hiring in a tight labor market, like today’s. Big companies dangle lucrative compensation bait, but smaller firms must be more clever and calculated when attracting talent.

In recent years, some HR and business leaders have made a bigger point to highlight generational differences in the workplace, encouraging recruiting strategies tailored to the age of talent they’re trying to reach (read: life insurance for those over 40, kombucha for those under 25).

As a result, media have laser-focused on Millennials: what they want, how they want it, and how they’re different from their Gen X and Baby Boomer predecessors.

Now, there’s a new group in the office, already representing 5% of the total U.S. workforce: Generation Z, and they’re taking claim of the limelight. Generation Zers (aka Gen Zers, The Zoomers, The Silent Generation, The Post-Millennials, or The iGeneration) are anyone born between 1995 and 2019, a fluid end date depending on which source you look at.


Already there are 9 million working Gen Zers, and their arrival in labor scene is prompting recruiting staff, as well as HR admins, to consider “what’s this generation all about?” and “how are we going to attract these workers?

These questions piqued our interest, too, and served as the impetus to the recently coined generational workplace study regarding Millennials, Gen Zers, and what they’re like in the working world.

The results were unexpected.

What’s really up between generations?

We thought we’d see a reflection of stereotypes we see plastered in mainstream media headlines emerge from the data.

We thought we’d see Gen Zers reporting less risk tolerance and more traditional mindsets as compared to their Millennial peers, like we were told in this article.

We thought we’d see Millennial data reflecting their “lazy, entitled” ways, commitment to company values over pay, and job dissatisfaction, like we were told in this article.

Instead, we found the two groups are quite similar — actually.

If you, or your company, is asking or has ever asked:

  • Which benefits or perks are most effective at attracting younger talent? 
  • How can we develop internal culture that reflects the types of work environments younger generations seek?
  • What are the important differences between Millennials and Gen Zers that I need to be aware of in my work in Human Resources? 

This research is for you.

It’s time to test your preconceived notions, your stereotyped beliefs and start myth busting.

FactOrFiction Workest

Young workers tend to be less satisfied with jobs. 


Both Gen Zers and Millennials reported a similar (and higher) level of job satisfaction as compared to their older peers.

82% of Gen Zers and 80.7% of Millennials report job satisfaction. This is 30 points above the national average of 51%. #mythbusters. (Highlight copy to tweet this stat)

For the minority group of those who reported job dissatisfaction, both Gen Zers and Millennials pointed to “low pay” as the top reason for dissatisfaction (52.8% for Gen Zers, 52.8% for Millennials), followed by “bad manager” (19.4%, 19.4% respectively).


FactOrFiction Workest

Gen Zers and Millennials would rather to work for a company whose values/mission they align with than take a job with a higher salary. 


In fact, Gen Zers and Millennials rank “pay” and “benefits” as the #1 and #2 most important factors when choosing a job. (Highlight copy to tweet this stat)

Top 5 factors Gen Zers consider when choosing a job

  1. Pay
  2. Benefits
  3. Job Location
  4. Ability to grow my career
  5. Values / mission of the company

Top 5 factors Millennials consider when choosing a job

  1. Pay
  2. Benefits
  3. Job Location
  4. The values / mission of the company
  5. The ability to grow my career

FactOrFiction Workest

Gen Zers prefer more “traditional jobs” than Millennials. (Highlight copy to tweet this stat)


Millennials prefer 9-5 jobs more than Gen Zers. 

77.5% of Millennials said they’d prefer a 9-5 job as compared to only 71.5% of Gen Zers. This could suggest two important things. One, Millennial individuals might not be as adventurous as their stereotype makes them out to be. And two: Maybe Gen Zers are less traditional than we were expecting.

FactOrFiction Workest

Younger generations trust influencers more than brands. 


Gen Zers and Millennials trust influencers less than brands. (Highlight copy to tweet this stat)

Are influencers losing their sway? 58.8% of Millennials and 60.5% don’t trust brands as compared to the 65.2% of Millennials and 63.5% Gen Zers who don’t trust influencers. Who do they trust? Their peers.

If you want to connect with the 80 million U.S. Millennials and 65 U.S. million Gen Zers, you’ll have to talk to their friends first.

Takeaways for small and midsize business

In the last few years, HR and business leaders have turned up the volume on the importance of generational differences across the workforce. While it’s too early to tell how Gen Zers preferences will fully evolve, this data suggests perhaps the stereotypical gap between groups might be amped up for dramatic effect so far.

So instead of getting micro-focused on age-based desires stay competitive in recruiting and hiring by following these more macro tips:

  1. Stay alert to changing cultural and societal demands at large.
  2. Meet with new graduates and existing employees frequently and ask them what motivates them in their careers.
  3. Ensure your recruiting efforts are aligned with your overall business goals and culture.

And for overachievers, stay tuned to more Zenefits workplace research where we spend money and time researching the questions we think are most impactful to the 99.7% of U.S. businesses with fewer than 500 employees.

Appendix 1: Wait, what’s a Millennial and a Gen Zer?

For those readers completely lost, a few helpful definitions and context for your second:

Who’s considered a Millennial? 

Generation cutoffs are more of an art than a science, and depending on where you go for information, you may get a different answer. We use the following definitions: A Millennial is anyone born between the years 1981 and 1995.

Who’s considered a Gen Zer?

A Gen Zer is anyone born between 1995 and 2019.  The oldest Gen Zers at the time of this publication are 24 years old, according to Kasasa.

How many Millennials are in the workforce? 

Millennials make up the largest generational group in the American labor force, with 56 million people, or 35% of the total working population, according to Pew Research.

How many Gen Zer’s are in the workforce?

Gen Zers represent the smallest, but fastest growing, sector of the American workforce currently with 9 million people, or 5% of the total working population, according to Pew Research.

Appendix 2: Who was included in the survey?

Our survey polled individuals aged 18-37 from a variety of industries from across the United States, including representative samples of standard genders (male/female).

  • 74.3% working full time
  • 26.5% working part time
  • 50% self-consider their work “white collar”
  • 50% self-consider their work “blue collar”
  • 11.3% were from “healthcare / medical” industries; 9.3% “food services”; 9.0% “retail”; 7.0% “education”; 6.8% from “accounting”; 6.5% “finance / banking / insurance” and others.
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