How Millennials and Generation Z Are Changing Our Workplace

12. January 2021

Up to four generations under one roof: many organisations are currently realising the speed at which the generational mix in the workplace is changing. Whilst the first representatives of the post-war generation are entering retirement, the first digital natives are setting foot the labour market.

Over the next 10 years, the New World of Work will be dominated by four generations, which couldn’t be any more different:

  • Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964 according to Pew Research Center): One of the most significant events of the Boomer post-war years was the moon landing. Broadly speaking, Boomers prefer to have their own offices in the workplace. They are also team players and enjoy working in groups.
  • Generation X (born between 1965 and 1979 according to Gallup): The MTV generation is considered ambitious and goal-oriented. They try to reconcile productive work, career goals and a healthy work-life balance. However, in case of doubt, Gen X will put personal preferences aside when the job calls.
  • Millennials (born between 1980 and 1998 according to The College Investor): This cohort, also known as Gen Y, is one of the largest generations ever. They grew up with globalisation and have clear ideas about their workplace: Work must be fun and enriching.They do not tend to struggle with work-life balance as this the balance is built into their professional DNA – they wouldn’t accept anything else.
  • Generation Z (born after 1998 according to Goldman Sachs): The defining trend of this generation is their intensive use of the Internet at all levels of economy and society. As digital natives, they possess a near perfect command of modern means of communication from early childhood. They are considered to be both conscientious and super outgoing.

Every generation has its own unique characteristics, and demographic trends mean that companies have the challenging task of organising cooperation between all employees, regardless of which generation they belong to.

The challenge for management is to manage the growing diversity in the workplace and to bring employees from different generations together to build well-functioning teams. We researched three strategies which you can discover here.

Paying attention to the uniqueness of each generation – with all their strengths and weaknesses – is the first step in creating the best possible development opportunities for all employees and your organisation as a whole.

Millennials and Gen Z Dominate the Global Workforce

At the same time, it is becoming apparent that Millennials and Gen Z will fundamentally change the world of work in the coming decade, mainly due to their quantitative strength. Millennials alone will account for three-quarters of the global workforce by 2025.

Thanks to their digital skills, Gen Z is a popular target group for companies. Managers expect a breath of fresh air to flow through their organisation through the unconventional working methods of their young colleagues and the exemplary use of cloud communications services and collaboration tools.

With their ideas of a modern work and communication culture, Millennials and Generation Z are injecting momentum into the debate about the New World of Work. Some may have to say goodbye to their beloved habits in the workplace. Find out more about these habits.

There is no doubt that young generations are changing the working world like no generation before. Most of the major changes in the coming decade will be determined by Millennials and Gen Z. Let’s look at five examples which you can use today to prepare for the future.

1. Cloud Services Become the Undisputed IT Standard

Important roles and positions in your organisation that determine your company’s IT strategy and communications infrastructure are often filled by Millennial colleagues. They have grown up in a connected world based on cloud services.

Millennials and Gen Z transfer positive personal experiences with the cloud to the workplace and establish cloud services as a standard that we may soon no longer talk about specifically – cloud services become the norm, not the exception.

2. Cross-Generational Learning Partnerships Emerge

Conventional organisational structures and career models are largely based on age and length of service within an organisation. This approach is becoming less important as Millennials and Gen Z enter the working world, as they possess digital skills that previous generations do not have. At the same time, younger colleagues can benefit from many years of business experience that older colleagues have gained.

This results in cross-generational learning partnership: The new generation can help more mature workers become more proficient in using digital technologies. And conversely, more mature workers can coach their younger colleagues on tips and tricks in the workplace.

3. DIY Mentality Prevails

Whilst older colleagues are still waiting to receive approval for their suggestions for improvement, the new generation is already implementing the solution. The DIY (Do It Yourself) generation is simply not familiar with conventional top-down approaches in the workplace. They prefer to take challenges into their own hands rather than wait for hierarchy and bureaucracy to follow through.

Standardised processes firmly set in stone?

Supposedly unsolvable problems for which employees give up trying to find a solution?

It’s all a thing of the past. Millennials and Gen Z are used to tackling challenges independently. Using the trial and error method – and taking risks – means even the biggest problems can be solved.

4. Output Counts, Not Time

Yet another month of too much overtime? Close your eyes out of gratitude for the good job you have. However, this unspoken deal that has crept in between organisations and their employees in recent decades will soon be over.

For Millennials and Gen Z, working overtime is nothing more than a symptom of inefficient time management. It is not being present that matters, rather its the results that mean something. For this reason, you can bid farewell to a culture of presence in the workplace and concentrate on much more tangible goals. Success is measured by what you achieve and not simply by being present.


Where older generations are satisfied with exchanging a few emails every day, making some phone calls and having a regular team meeting every week, Millennials and Gen Z embody an active communication culture. Communication takes place across channels – voice, instant messaging, social media and video.

Communication is purposeful and driven by demand: swift decisions can be made by a short message, yet for complicated topics they prefer to pick up the phone or invite you to a video conference. It’s all about flexibility in how we interact, which on the whole leads to more dynamics in teamwork and increased productivity.

It is not only the arrival of new generations that is leading to transformation in the New World of Word. The digitalisation of communication is also leading to new working models. Our ebook is a valuable guide to help you in the digital transformation of your workplace. Click here to download!