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Get ready for Generation Z at work

Much has been written about what Generation Y (defined as ages 21 to 32), or millennials, expect in the workplace and want from their bosses. They want to be their own boss. They want flexible work schedules. And they want to do work that matters.

But what about their younger counterparts, Generation Z (defined as those between 16 and 20)? A new study from staffing firm Randstad and Gen Y consulting firm Millennial Branding looked at data from over 1,000 members of this generation globally, to get a glimpse as to how it views the working world it's about to enter. We spoke to Dan Schawbel, author of Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success, and founder of Millennial Branding, about the results -- and how to get ready for Gen Z.

CBS MoneyWatch: What about Generation Z surprised you?

Dan Schawbel: We found that both Gen Z and Y prefer face time over new technology, such as video conferencing, instant messaging and social networking. Another thing that stood out is that Gen Zs prefer career opportunities, while Gen Ys prefer more money when it comes to giving them incentives to work harder. Two years ago, a study found that Gen Ys chose meaningful work over more money but now, because of the economy, that has changed. It should be interesting to see what happens in another year when Gen Zs start their first real jobs, and if they prioritize money instead.

MW: Based on your research, what defines Gen Z? And Gen Y?

DS: Gen Z describe themselves as creative, open-minded and open to new ideas, while Gen Ys view Gen Zs as being lazy. Gen Ys view themselves as being creative, open-minded and open to new ideas, and Gen Zs typically agree. What's interesting here is that older generations negatively stereotype younger generations. We found this last year when Gen X and boomer managers felt negatively about Gen Ys.

MW: What are both of these younger generations looking for in a boss?

DS: The top leadership quality that both generations are looking for is honesty. They aren't very trusting of their superiors, of CEOs and politicians. They want a transparent and authentic work environment and want to be included in various important discussions.

MW: How has technology impacted both?

DS: Facebook is the dominant social network for both generations across the world, both on their personal and work time. [In general] technology helps Gen Z get answers to their problems quicker yet serves as a distraction, especially instant messaging.

MW: What is the single fastest way to motivate a member of Gen Z? And the single fastest way to crush their ambition?

DS: To motivate Gen Y, you need to compensate them more so that they are able to pay off their student loans, move out of their parent's house and become more independent. For Gen Z, you need to give them career opportunities and mentoring. In terms of employment benefits, focus on healthcare. Both Gen Y and Z really care about healthcare benefits.

MW: What's the best reason to hire a Gen Z member?

DS: Gen Z is entrepreneurial-minded. While many companies are reluctant to hire these types of workers, I think hiring entrepreneurs makes a lot of sense. Companies need to innovate and that innovation comes from within.


MW: What is the biggest misconception of Gen Z in the workplace?

DS: The biggest misconception is that they are exactly like Gen Ys. While Gen Ys are more optimistic, Gen Zs are realistic with their workplace expectations. Gen Ys are viewed as entitled in part because of their optimism and that gets placed on Gen Z and it's not true.