According to recent U.S. census data, Gen Z comprises only 27 percent of the nation’s total demographics — but Gen Zers are already on-track to push through many historic barriers and leave an indelible mark on the future. Gen Z is poised to become the largest consumer cohort in the United States by 2026, and they’re also joining the workforce in droves.
The influence of Gen Z can be felt in politics, education, justice, and technology. This group is more ethnically diverse and more likely to enroll in college than other generations, Pew Research points out. As true digital natives who can’t remember a time before the internet, Gen Z also leads the charge on tech innovation, global awareness, and social activism.
Gen Zers bring remarkable value to the world, but they also have much to learn from those who came before them — namely, Millennials who, at 72.24 million, account for the majority of U.S. residents. So as Gen Z continues to come of age within these next few years, here are some important lessons this cohort can take from their older Millennial counterparts.
Be Creative in the Pursuit of Financial Freedom
A recent survey found that 67 percent of Gen Zers rank finances as one of their top stressors. And as it turns out, Millennials can relate — 60 percent of whom also feel the brunt of financial worries. Millennials are at a point where it’s time to make long-term financial decisions that will impact the rest of their lives. This generation has faced a lot of economic uncertainty, but in response, they’ve learned to be creative with money goals.
Compare this can-do tenacity with Gen Z’s more pessimistic outlook. Only 23 percent of Gen Zers feel confident in their money management, and 2 in 5 live from one paycheck to the next. But whether it’s purchasing a house, building an investment portfolio, saving for retirement, or any other milestone, Gen Z can look to Millennials for resourceful guidance on achieving financial freedom — no matter the economic forecast.
Choose Work that Will Create Value and Impact
Unlike previous generations — who would remain at the same company for their entire careers pursuing a so-called “American Dream” — Millennials have different work priorities, and now Gen Z is following suit. While they care about benefits and compensation, Millennials tend to place a higher premium on jobs that fulfill them. Here are some of the main reasons Millennials will choose to work for a particular organization:
- Healthy work-life balance
- Career development resources
- A positive and inclusive culture
- Opportunities for growth
- Sense of meaning and impact
- Flexible work arrangements
As young Gen Zers enter the workforce, these values can also help them carve out rewarding career paths. Millennials were the first to challenge those traditional employment norms, but Gen Z has taken this even further. Gen Zers currently switch jobs at a rate of 134 percent higher than before the pandemic. In other words, this generation is not afraid of making moves if it means they’ll acquire the perks Millennials taught them to strive for.
Prioritize Your Mental and Emotional Well-Being
For some Gen Zers, it might be hard to envision a time when mental health was taboo. In 2023, conversations on anxiety, depression, trauma, burnout, and similar topics are so mainstream that a #MentalHealth search will yield 92 billion results on TikTok. Gen Z has the efforts of Millennials to thank for normalizing all this openness and awareness. Still, as a McKinsey poll reveals, Gen Z also cites any generation’s poorest mental health outcomes.
25 percent of Gen Z suffers from emotional distress, almost twice the number of Millennials who feel this way. Gen Zers are also much less inclined to seek out therapy and other interventions for mental health or substance abuse issues, McKinsey continues. By contrast, Millennials do more than just post about their traumas online — they take actionable steps to heal and care for their well-being. Gen Z could sorely benefit from doing the same.
Give Yourself an Occasional Social Media Detox
Speaking of mental and emotional wellness, Gen Zers who spend at least two hours each day on social media outlets are more likely to report mental health concerns. Social media can be a valuable information, communication, and self-expression tool. But too much-unrestricted access to these platforms can also increase anxiety, depression, loneliness, FOMO, unfavorable comparisons or, in extreme cases, cyber-harassment and suicidality.
On average, Gen Zers consume social media more frequently than Millennials do, which might account for some of the mental health differences between these two generations. Millennials are also responsible for the “social media detox” movement that’s become more common in recent years. Whether the goal is to trim the hours they’re on social media or to unplug entirely for several weeks at a time, Gen Z has also started to embrace this detox mentality. Some are even ditching their smart devices for basic retro cell phones.
Do Not Let the Status Quo Influence Your Goals
When Millennials started to come of age in the mid-2000s, they were known as the “entitled generation.” But for the most part, Millennials are not entitled — they’re ambitious, motivated, resilient, and conscientious. They also reinvented the wheel, a trait that confuses many of their predecessors but excites the Gen Zers following in their footsteps. Here are just a few of the ways Millennials have changed the status quo:
- They wait to start families until they feel emotionally mature and financially secure.
- They view success in terms of enjoying their work and having an impact on society.
- They want to be leaders in their careers to empower and invest in those around them.
- They are more generous with their resources in spite of dealing with economic turmoil.
- They value healthy relationships with their spouses or children over high-paying jobs.
- They don’t care about owning a house as much as the generations before.
- They are almost uninterested in becoming famous or having a visible public platform.
- They favor political actions such as universal healthcare, student debt relief, criminal justice reform, and environmental protection.
Millennials are teaching Gen Z how to reimagine a vision for their future outside the parameters of how it’s always been done before. Whether choosing to live in an RV instead of buying a home, launching a small business instead of working in a corporate office, or finding ways to make the world more equitable for everyone, Millennials laid a foundation for Gen Z to smash the status quo. And they’re running with this mantle.