Preparing for Gen Z and Gen Alpha: How Younger Generations Will Change Business Travel and Expense Management

younger generations will change business travel and expense management

I’ve worked in the business travel and expense (T&E) industry for more than 40 years. In that time, there has been one constant I, and all T&E managers, have had to come to terms with: change.

Each decade has brought new expectations, challenges, opportunities, and technologies, shaped by a new generation entering the workforce. And each generation has challenged pre-existing T&E policies, over time bringing about necessary change.

Some of us may question whether such changes are truly necessary.  Why fix something that isn’t broken, right? But in my past and current roles, I have been asked to review and modernise many companies’ T&E policies. Often, this involves making a noted shift away from a draconian approach defined by endless rules and regulations— sometimes even in contradiction with themselves. Policies like these can only cause employee frustration, friction, and a felly of mistrust.

The bottom line is that every company must adapt to survive and thrive in an ever-changing business landscape. Our fast-approaching future will be vastly different than the world of T&E management that we know today, and much of this will be driven by changing employee demographics and expectations.

And more changes are now on the horizon. In 2025, it is forecasted that Gen Z will comprise about 27% of the workforce among countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OCED), with an average age of 27. Meanwhile, the oldest of millennials will be 45. And in 2030, Gen Z will be the largest workforce demographic, just as Gen Alpha begins to enter the labor force. From my standpoint, it feels like déjà vu in T&E.

As the millennial generation continues to rise through the organisational ranks, they will be responsible for adjusting T&E policies and processes to accommodate the expectations of Gen Z and, eventually, Gen Alpha colleagues. And make no mistake— these generations’ expectations will be different from those that came before.