Gen Z expected to overtake boomers in workforce next year—here’s what employers need to know
The generation that grew up in the era of smartphones and social media, with a penchant for championing social justice, is now set to become a bigger part of America’s workforce.
The zoomer generation—the eldest of whom are now 26-years-old—are poised to outnumber baby boomers in the workforce by early next year, according to a recent analysis by Glassdoor.
As of September, 17.3 million boomers were still actively participating in the labor market, but Gen Z is catching up, at 17.1 million and trending upwards.
While baby boomers have been steadily aging out of the workforce and stepping into retirement, Gen Zers have started securing their degrees and kicking off their careers.
This generational shift in the American labor force represents “a pivotal moment of cultural change that U.S. companies cannot ignore,” write economists Aaron Terrazas and Daniel Zhao in the report.
Millennials and Gen X still dominate the workforce (for now)
There are around 50 million millennials and 43 million Gen Xers currently active in the job market, so according to Glassdoor estimates, Gen Z probably won’t overtake millennials until sometime in the early 2040s.
Still, the shift in demographics means employers preparing for this younger generation to make up a larger slice of the workforce have to consider what Gen Z needs and values.
“2024 is poised to see the smallest number of boomers in the full-time workforce since around 1970,” Terrazas told Fortune.
“With fewer boomers and more zoomers in the workplace, companies are being forced to adjust the benefits they offer and their employee engagement strategies,” he said.
What Gen Z wants from their employers
Unlike some of their older counterparts, Gen Z workers were able to jump-start their careers during a relatively tight labor market with abundant job opportunities and employers desperate to find help. They’re unafraid to ask for what they want and they’re not content to settle for less.
Sure, money helps. But earning a decent salary isn’t the only thing that matters to Gen Z.
Take Griffon Hooper, for example. Hooper is a University of San Diego graduate who’s working at a dive shop, while pursuing a career in nautical archaeology.
“I would like to be able to afford some things, but I don’t want to be attached to the material grind,” Hooper told The Washington Post. “I’m not interested in sacrificing 30 years of my life for a handshake and a golden watch. And I don’t think a lot of people are anymore.”
According to Deloitte, maintaining a good work/life balance is one of the top considerations for zoomers when looking for a job.
Flexible work arrangements, which may have felt like an unexpected blip for older generations when the pandemic struck, became a staple for many Gen Zers when they began their careers.
The Deloitte survey found that about 65% of Gen Z say they want a hybrid or remote work arrangement, and 77% of those who are currently in remote or hybrid roles say they would consider looking for a new job if their employer asked them to work full-time on site.
Young Americans also care about how committed their employers are to DEI and environmental sustainability initiatives, and are willing to turn down a job offer if the company’s values don’t align with their own.
Nearly 4 in 10 said they’ve rejected employers that don’t fit their values and 44% have turned down work assignments due to ethical concerns.
Unlike many of their older counterparts, Gen Z also tends to be more open and cognizant about mental health, and say mental health support and policies are a major consideration when picking an employer.