A major generational transition in the workforce is underway, with 10,000 Baby Boomers reaching retirement age every day. The newest entrant to the workforce, Gen Z, is expected to make up 30 percent of the U.S. workforce in just four years.

Because they are the most highly educated, tech-savviest generation to hit the workforce, the temptation by many is just to see them as even techier millennials. While they do share some characteristics with millennials, in some very important ways their worldview is distinct, likely shaped by the War on Terror, which has been waging for nearly their entire life, and the Great Recession. They are more conservative financially and socially and have a stronger work ethic.

WeSpire’s Insights Team decided to dig into what is known about this new generation as it relates to work, purpose and impact. We synthesized more than 30 survey sources to find out what gives Gen Z purpose and meaning, what engages them, what they care about and how they want to get involved. The result was our recent Industry Report: 15 Critical Insights about Gen Z, Purpose and the Future of Work (PDF).

Here are five key insights most relevant to sustainability and social responsibility professionals:

1. They’re the first generation to prioritize purpose over salary

They are referred to as the Change Generation for their passion and desire to have a personal impact through their work. More than half say they want to pursue careers in public service or the not-for-profit sector. What’s unique to Gen Z is the emphasis and belief that their job needs to have social impact versus giving back through extracurricular volunteering and giving. As a result, the type of work that Bea Boccalandro does to “Job Purpose” will be increasingly critical for managers.

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