Generation Z has begun entering the workforce. Unlike millennials, who started their careers during a terrible economic time, Gen Z is confident about their future.

In fact, a September survey of EY's Gen Z interns found that 63 percent of respondents believe they will be professionally better off, in both finances and happiness, than their parents.

But is this confidence youthful exuberance, or do they truly have a better workplace than older generations?

To better understand this new generation, we have to look at how Gen Z fits into the workplace, adapt to their needs, and create an environment where they will thrive and feel welcome. Because if you can't meet their expectations, you won't be able to tap into this new talent pool.

Here are four things you need to know about Gen Z:

1. Their growth and passion go hand-in-hand.

Not too long ago, young professionals had to choose between their passion and a stable job. For example, Erin Minck, who was a brand, marketing and communications intern at EY's New York office this past summer, knows that her parents had to abandon their dream jobs. According to Minck, her parents achieved great success but at the expense of doing frustrating and unfulfilling work.

"Happiness in the workplace is determined by two P's: passion and practicality," Minck said. "Older generations see the two P's as opposite ends of a spectrum and simply accept their mutual exclusivity."

Generation Z doesn't see the workplace the same way. The EY survey found that 84 percent of the generation focus on career progression and growth when job searching.

How does that set them apart from other generations?

Baby boomers felt they had to choose between moving up the corporate ladder (progression) and developing the skills that made them happy (growth). This is not true of Generation Z. They believe they can have it all.

To attract this talent, be willing to find out what type of work inspires them. Then, show them how they can achieve all their goals with your organization.

2. They like to try before they buy.

Older generations were often concerned with one thing before taking a job: how much they'd make. If a job gave them less satisfaction but paid more, they'd choose that role. Generation Z has other priorities.

The EY study found that only 15 percent of Gen Zers prefer a higher salary over job satisfaction. It's more important to them to know that a job will make them happy than how well it pays. That's why Matt Stewart, co-founder of painting services company College Works Painting, has noticed that Generation Z is willing to work for free to try out a position first.

"Our team is all about the experience, and the pay is a bonus in their eyes," Stewart said. "We even have interns that do not want pay, and either donate pay or wait until the end of the year for all bonuses. Experience is what it is all about."

If your company doesn't offer an internship program, Generation Z won't be willing to take a chance on you. They'd rather find a company that they know will make them happy.

3. They're ready to roll the dice.

For millennials, it seemed like there was one path to professional success: go to college. Yet, after seeing that their predecessors are buried under student debt, Generation Z is considering other options.

For instance, when Lauren Herdman, a junior engineer at Toronto-based financial data company Quandl, was considering which route to take for her career, she knew computer sciences was for her. Yet, she wasn't sure if going to a university was the right choice.

"I went to a tech skills accelerator instead, where I honed the skills I learned in high school and practiced programming whenever I had spare time," she said.

Be willing to consider candidates without traditional backgrounds. Members of Gen Z are more likely to have gained experience on the job than at a traditional educational institution.

4. They know no boundaries.

Generation Z grew up with the internet and exposure to different cultures. They want to continue getting to know a variety of people through their careers.

In fact, the EY survey found that 84 percent of Generation Z believe their ability to work with different people sets them apart from older generations.

For example, Rajitha Boer, president and CEO of Switzerland-based legal and compliance agency Yerra Solutions, transferred a recent graduate from Paris to Nashville. She expected the transition to be a bumpy, but he jumped right in.

"He's making a real effort to get to know co-workers of different backgrounds and ages, finding activities and starting a new social life," Boer said. "Not once has he complained or said anything negative."

Prioritize diversity and be proud of the team you've built. Share pictures of employees on social media so Gen Zers can see the variety of people they could work with at your organization.

Published on: Nov 20, 2017