We’ve shared before that Millennial (born between 1981 and 1996) and Gen Z (born between 1997 and 2012) agents are having major impact on the way today’s contact centers operate.  These two groups now make up the fastest-growing proportion of contact center employees.

And savvy contact center leaders are paying attention.

In her recent webinar with Serenova, leading contact center industry analyst Sheila McGee-Smith shared a particularly revealing statistic:

  • Gen Z is set to outnumber even Millennials this year to make up 32% of the global population (a staggering 7.7 billion total people).

Here’s the important takeaway from this datapoint: To effectively address the habits and preferences of these youngest generations, we should avoid lumping Millennials and Gen Z into the same bucket. The high-tech, highly practical and hyper-connected Gen Z—as contact center agent and customer too—is worth a closer look. It takes understanding Gen Z’s distinct traits and preferences to determine effective ways to positively leverage their growing influence.

Generation Disruptor as Agent

In the webinar, McGee-Smith shared exciting insights from some of the most compelling and extensive research on Gen Z by generations expert David Stillman.

Stillman teamed up with his 17-year-old Gen Z son, Jonah, to introduce and examine this influential, disruptor generation in their book, Gen Z @ Work. The book is based on the first-ever studies of Gen Z’s workplace attitudes. It includes information from interviews with hundreds of CEOs and thought leaders on generational issues, as well as cutting-edge case studies. The goal of Gen Z @ Work is to offer insights into how best to recruit, retain, motivate and manage this important demographic.

Let’s take a look at the seven key traits of Gen Z:


Gen Z is the first generation born into a world where every person and place has a digital equivalent. For Gen Z, the real world and the virtual world naturally overlap. Virtual is simply part of their reality.


Gen Z has always worked hard at identifying and customizing their own brand for the world to know. Their ability to customize everything has created an expectation that there is an intimate understanding of their behaviors and desires. From job titles to career paths, the pressure to customize has been turned up.


Growing up during the aftermath of 9/11, with terrorism part of everyday life, as well as living through a severe recession early in their lives, has created a very pragmatic mindset related to planning and preparing for the future.

Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)   

Gen Z suffers from intense FOMO. On anything. The good news is they stay on top of trends and competition. The bad news is they worry they aren’t moving fast enough, or in the right direction.


From Uber to Airbnb, Gen Z has only known a world with a shared economy. Gen Z will push the workplace to break down internal and external silos to leverage the collective in more convenient and cost-effective ways. Gen Z expects to partner with their employers to fix the wrongs they see in the world. In fact, 93% of Gen Z says a company’s impact on society affects where they work.

Do It Yourself (DIY)

Gen Z is the do-it-yourself generation. Having grown up with YouTube, which has taught them how to do just about anything, Gen Z believes they can do almost anything themselves. On top of that, they have been encouraged by their independent Gen X parents not to follow traditional paths.

Gen Z is fiercely independent and will collide head-on with so many of the collaborative cultures that Millennials have fought for. Seventy-one percent of Gen Z say they believe the phrase “if you want it done right, then do it yourself.”


With parents who drilled into them that participation is not a real award and that there are winners and losers, a recession that pulled the rug out from their predecessors, and a rate of change that is hard to keep up with, Gen Z is a driven generation. Gen Z is ready and hungry to roll up their sleeves. They are more competitive than previous generations.

Addressing Gen Z’s Distinct Traits

McGee-Smith used the Gen Z @ Work data in her webinar to address the impact of the growing influence of Gen Z on contact centers as customer and agent. She offered solutions to the challenges that Gen Z-specific traits present in the contact center workplace:

Challenge: Once Gen Z masters a task, they want to move on.

Solution: Help them focus on what they are learning along the way to identify and reach career advancement goals. Performance management tools can help here. By giving agents visibility into their performance, they can benchmark their efforts against other agents and themselves. You can also increase engagement by using gamification techniques to reward them when specific goals are achieved.

Challenge: Agent attrition among disengaged Gen Z agents.

Solution: A complete workforce engagement suite, including Workforce Optimization, to improve agent performance and customer experience; Workforce Management for agent scheduling and forecasting; and Quality Management for recording and evaluating interactions can positively impact customer and agent retention and satisfaction.

Challenge: FOMO

Solution: Gamification, like Serenova’s CxEngage Scoreboard, can address FOMO through improved agent engagement. Contact center solutions that provide metrics, reporting and dashboards, and public wallboards with agent access can positively affect employee attrition and increase productivity.

Generation Disruptor as Customer

While they value security, Gen Z is 25% more likely than other generations to provide personal information, and are more interested in personalization than keeping their information private, according to data presented by McGee-Smith.

As customers, Gen Z not only wants, but expects, companies to use the information they collect about them to improve the service they give them, McGee-Smith says. Yet, far too few companies have tightly integrated customer care with their mobile applications. She contends that cloud-based contact center solutions like integrated chat can deliver a unified user experience across any device connected to the internet, including desktops, smart phones and tablets, measurably  improving customer experience for Gen Z.