This is the dawning of the age of the Gen Z—to put a spin on a quote from a favored hippie song during boomers’ youth. “Let the sunshine in” and the boomers out, as they move on to their next chapter of retirement and the younger generations take over.
The changing of the guards is set to take place early next year when Gen Z will finally outnumber boomers in the workforce, predicts Glassdoor in its 2024 Workplace Trends report. It’s a shift that the employer review site calls “long coming,” and one that will have some ripple effects in the way we act at work.
While companies are still implementing a post-pandemic push to return to the office, the makeup of who is in the office won't look exactly the same as it did before. “Demographics won't go back to pre-pandemic norms: 2024 is poised to see the smallest number of boomers in the full-time workforce since around 1970,” Glassdoor chief economist Aaron Terrazas tells Fortune. “With fewer boomers and more zoomers in the workplace, companies are being forced to adjust the benefits they offer and their employee engagement strategies.”
But it’s by no means a Gen Z world just yet. Millennials will still reign supreme (even if some of their corporate relics like WeWork and Glossier are losing favor) for the next couple of decades. Boomers were the largest generation until 2011, Gen Xers had a brief time in the sun until 2018, and millennials have been at the steering wheel since then. Gen Z isn’t set to overtake millennials until the early 2040s, per Glassdoor.
Boomers are retiring at a rate the workforce isn’t equipped for—there are 2 million more retirees than anticipated—despite the fact that many are also returning to work or sticking around longer in a job. Their exit leaves a new manager in town alongside the Gen X managers— a millennial Mr. Manager overseeing the increasingly Gen Z workforce. It's creating a new environment, and junior employees are paving the road, having entered the workforce while the rules were in flux during a raging pandemic.
That new road might include more money talks. The youngest generations are all about pay transparency; 76% of millennials and 74% of Gen Zers report to Forbes Advisor that they’re willing to talk about their salary with a coworker, compared to 66% of Gen Xers and 41% of boomers. During a time of high inflation and financial anxiety (which is especially impacting those who are more economically vulnerable on entry-level salaries), there’s more pressure to know what your peers are making and advocate for more money.
Gen Z might also shape other conversations about holding employers accountable regarding how they operate, as Glassdoor’s survey also reveals that younger generations are more likely to want to talk about politics and issues of diversity and inclusion than their older cohorts. And, spurred by the remote work habits that followed us to the post-pandemic office, Gen Z has often been credited for creating a work culture that's more informal, where people dress, speak, and message their co-workers more casually.
Of course, generational differences can be exaggerated and based on stereotypes, so there may be less shifting than expected. In fact, the oldest and youngest employees share some similarities: Namely what they want in work—a job that is “challenging and meaningful,” per a 2022 Indeed survey. And people of all ages care about work-life balance. But Gen Z is known for setting that boundary in a more definitive manner.
“I don’t think Gen Z wants more than others,” DeAndre Brown, a Gen Zer content creator, told Fortune in 2022. “In fact, we want the exact same things as other generations. However, due to the internet, we have become way more vocal about it since we have the potential to reach a large audience.”
This story was originally featured on Fortune.com