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Millennials vs. Centennials: shared characteristics, differences and challenges to consider


While we still are adjusting to the massive influx of Millennials or Generation Y (young people born in the eighties and nineties) into the labour market, we are beginning to hear about a new, and as yet unknown, younger generation that is beginning to come up, the Centennials or Generation Z, (people born during 1994-2010).

Although Millennials and Centennials are both generations emerging right in the midst of the digital age, there are substantial differences between the two. Millennials seek freedom to develop their work and personal projects; they are innovative, question authority and are experts at using technological tools and social networks. In contrast, Centennials are characterized as being self-educated, loyal, creative, and favour financial security. They are also deeply concerned about their employment options and thus show a much more realistic attitude than the preceding generation on their career conditions. According to data extracted from the articles "Gen Z: The New Grads Entering the Workforce in 2016" and "39 of the most interesting facts about generation Z", three out of four Centennials firmly believe they must work harder than previous generations tofulfil their career aspirations.

While HR professionals are still adapting specific practices to attract, retain and motivate talent among Millennials, they must now also take into consideration this new generation due to the significant differences, despite the similarities.

Differences between Milennials and Centennials

Recent articles and studies (*) describe theshared characteristics as well as the differences between these two new generations that must be taken into account. Centennials (people under 25, currently representing more than 50% of the world population) unlike Millennials were born and raised in the shadow of the financial crisis. However, the article "Getting to know Gen Z" states that the biggest difference above all between the two generations is marked by the labour market fluctuations occurring in recent years.

  • As with most Millennials, entrepreneurship is becoming stronger. More than 62% of Generation Z would also like to be their own boss and/or launch their own start-up; currently 3% are already running their own business. However, even though these aspirations are latent, both generations welcome support, guidance and communication from their managers to guide them in developing their careers. Therefore it will be important to maintain permanent feedback with them as well as roll out plans for interpersonal learning by assigning a mentor (someone with experience and expertise) to support these new professionals in their development.
  • Another important aspect to bear in mind between these two generations is that technology and social networks are pervasive in their lives, even though they differ in how each generation handles technology. For Centennials technology is not a consumer item but a tool that facilitates access to communication, exchange, education and entertainment (a more pragmatic attitude). Furthermore Centennials are true digital natives; they are considered as the generation best prepared for understanding and using future innovations.

Born in a highly technological environment, both generations opt forflexibilityon the job that enables them to work from anywhere and at any time. Additionally they value constant, immediate and informal communication with their managers. The report,"Jovenes Z, El ultimo salto generacional” by Deusto Business School and Atrevia discusses the new Generation Z anddeclares, "In consequence, companies must offer a message of flexibility and diversity by changing the hierarchy through participation."

Implementing new recruitment methods to attract talent among these new professionals, having succession plans in place for detecting future leaders of organizations, and establishing training and development plans tailored to these new profiles—all this will become part of the new challenges that HR professionals must address.

(*) Sources:

“Jóvenes Z. El último salto generacional”, Deusto Business School and Atrevia.

Gen Z: The New Grads Entering the Workforce in 2016.

“39 of the most interesting facts about generation Z.

“McGraw, Mark. Getting To know Gen Z.”


Editorial HR

Meta4, with 1,300 customers in 100 countries, manages more than 18 million people worldwide. The company’s R&D&I center located in Spain (Madrid) develops HR applications capable of meeting local and global needs of all types of organizations. The editorial team is made up of professionals with over 15 years of experience in the HR technology field.

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