top of page
  • Writer's pictureJenn Donahue

From Boomers to Zoomers: How the Gen Z’ers are Shifting the Workforce

diverse millenials engage and collaborate around computer

It's no secret that the younger generations (millennials and Generation Z) have been waiting for the older generation to retire. Now, they are about to get their chance.

Boomers are beginning to leave the workforce at a staggering rate and Generation Z is zooming in. According to the Pew Research Center, 2 million boomers have retired every year on average since 2011. In 2020, that number rose to 3.2 million.

In two years, millennials and Gen Z will constitute the majority of the workforce.

What does this radical landscape shift mean for us Gen X’ers? Are we prepared for what’s to come?

In my experience with millennials, we have nothing to be fearful about, but rather much to look forward to.

Millennials and Gen Z’ers bring a lot to the table. They are career-driven, purpose-focused, and tech-efficient. We have a lot to learn from the next generational wave of talent and if we can create and lead businesses that prioritize growth and flexibility, we will easily adapt to the change in landscape and help the uprising generations shift into their new roles along the way.

Find What Fuels Their Fire, and Light It!

The drive behind most millennials is a passion for what they do. They enjoy what they are doing and they want to do it better, faster, and more focused. While “ladder-climbing” is becoming a model of the past, millennials still want to push forward to find solutions, complete projects and have a clear path for growth.

When hiring millennials and Gen-Z, you are gaining a more driven workforce.

According to a recent survey, 76% of Gen-Z respondents described themselves as responsible for driving their career, and 58% are willing to work nights and weekends for higher pay. This number is slightly lower for Millennials, 45%, who have a greater value on having experiences. Yet, this is still greater than the Gen-X and Baby Boomers who are only 40% or lower in willingness to work overtime.

If you want to inspire their fire, fuel it! Find what resources they need, how you can allow them to be more creative and independent in their work, and what ways you can enhance their lives outside of work. A little appreciation goes a long way for millennials.

Purpose and Passion Over Pay

Purpose is what drives the next generations’ passion. Working on purpose is what millennials and Generation Z live for.

When it comes to salary, 74% of Gen-Z and 70% of millennials are motivated more by the purpose of the work than the paycheck (vs. 66% of Gen-X, and 67% of Boomer respondents). While salary is important to this group, it’s not the only thing driving them to work hard. These young people want to care about the work they do.

The younger generations are often stereotyped as being flighty job hoppers. And, it’s true, especially when compared to the loyalty of the baby boomers. These younger generations are less interested in staying with the same company until retirement and instead determined to find the job that fulfills their desire for growth and purpose.

Inc. Magazine says, “Millennial leaders build companies around personal passion and social purpose and prioritize a positive work/life balance. As the line between work and personal life is blurred, the ability to connect company values to personal values becomes critical.”

As Gen X leaders, it is important for us to help keep Gen Z and millennials engaged in the mission of what we’re doing if we want to keep them engaged in the job. Giving lots of why’s around the big picture when giving a task is helpful to show them the higher purpose of what they are doing and how it contributes to overall success within the company.

Tech Powerhouses

Millennials and Gen Z’ers were raised with technology. Instead of being overwhelmed by that, harness the strengths that come with that. Many of us from older generations are not always looking for the fastest and most efficient way to use technology. If we can empower the incoming generations to teach us new tech and take initiative on efficiency, it will only benefit us.

The younger generations bring creative, out-of-the-box problem-solving on a level that the previous generations have not seen.

I recently enlisted a millennial to help me with revising and streamlining a process that was time-consuming and costly. He was able to make the process more efficient, more powerful, and save me money. Why wouldn’t we let millennials take charge of more efficient courses for our future? They understand a language we learned at an older age. If we can empower these tech powerhouses, everyone wins.

Leadership & Mentorship

So, how do we, as leaders, help with the ease of this transition?

To start, we can listen when it’s time to learn and speak when it’s time to teach. We have a lot to learn from the upcoming generations and we have a lot to share. We can help guide these new leaders into their roles through mentorship.

Both of the newer generations value mentorship and on-the-job training. Research has shown that millennials who are mentored are twice as likely to stay with an organization for more than five years. Millennials and Gen Z are both highly motivated to learn something new every day. So, be a resource for them! Connect them with other resources that will enable them to continue to receive training and grow their skills and knowledge base.

The newer generations are hungry for growth and find motivation and inspiration through learning new things (especially things they can apply directly to their personal development).

As leaders, we can position ourselves so that we are constantly fueling their fire and nurturing their soil. The closer we work together to close the generational gaps through leadership and mentorship, the better the businesses and the workforce will become.

Make way for Millennials

My interactions with millennials and Gen Z have always been outstanding. I have had the opportunity to work with them in corporate America as well as when I was a lecturer at universities. Many have a fire and a drive that I have not seen for some time within my generation. As leaders, it is our responsibility to understand what drives each individual so we can properly motivate and effectively lead them.

There is about to be a radical shift in values and it’s important for businesses to prepare for the power vacuum presented by the next generation of leaders through understanding their roles and work styles, adapting to change, and guiding them into their future leadership roles.

If you and your team would like to hear more about how all generations can work together to grow your business, reach out to me. As a leadership speaker for millennials, my keynote will inspire and motivate your organization to build a more powerful future.


Recent Posts


bottom of page