Get ready for Generation Z at work

gen z workforce 2

Just as the work world is starting to understand millennials, Generation Z is on its way.

Gen Z, whose oldest members are turning 19, will start entering the work force in large numbers in just a few years. And their career attitudes are likely to differ significantly from the millennials who preceded them, according to a new study by Universum.

Research firm Universum surveyed high school students and recent graduates in 46 countries. Most were born between 1996 and 2000.

One big theme around the world: Members of Generation Z see themselves as entrepreneurial.

In fact, 55% of 50,000 Gen Z-ers Universum polled said they're interested in starting their own company.

Why? They want to be their own boss and think starting a business is a great way to make an impact, the survey found.

Related: Millennial generation is bigger, more diverse than boomers

Universum researchers have seen a gradual rise in entrepreneurial interest with each generation, and expect that trend to continue from millennials to Gen Z, says Katharine Lynn, Universum's associate director of marketing and communications.

The "growing pervasiveness of startups" like Facebook and Uber, "as well as the increasing desire for independence" are helping drive that interest, Lynn said in an email.

"There has also been a strong increase in focus on tech skills, which can be learned regardless of where you go to school or what you study," she said.

Gen Z's independent streak is much stronger than millennials', with 32% of Gen Z respondents saying autonomy is one of their most important career goals, compared to just 22% of Gen Y.

Less essential for Gen Z? Work-life balance, cited by 40% of Gen Z-ers vs. 54% of millennials. And the intellectual challenge of a career is critical to just 19% of Gen Z compared to 32% of Gen Y. Meanwhile, only 27% say it's important to feel they're serving a greater good with their work, compared to 35% of their elders surveyed.

Related: 5 reasons Millennials aren't like the rest of us

Of course, Gen Z is still made up of mostly students -- and their relative inexperience may be influencing their expectations, according to Lynn. Once they enter the "real world," their attitudes may shift.

And despite their zest for entrepreneurship, members of Gen Z are not terribly optimistic about their financial prospects. Only 56% of Gen Z expects to have a better lifestyle than their parents, compared to 71% of millennials.

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