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Generation Z refers to those born from 1997 to 2012 so the oldest of their cohort are currently around 26. Many Gen Zers have only recently joined the workforce, so why do they have such a bad rap already? Here are some of the factors at play.

What’s been said about Gen Z Employees

This recent New York Post article referenced a ResumeBuilder study and interviewed managers about their opinions of Gen Zers in the workplace. Take for instance Alexis McDonnell, a content creator who managed Gen Z employees at a tech company in Dallas who said, “the biggest difference I noticed was just a difference in professionalism. I do think the pandemic had a big role to play in that because for all of them, this was their first job out of college and their last years were spent remote,” McDonnell, 28, told The Post.

The ResumeBuilder survey asked 1300 team leaders about their experience in the workforce with Generation Z. Here are some of the key findings from the survey:

  • 3 in 4 managers find it difficult to work with GenZ
  • The plurality of these business leaders and managers prefer to work with Millennials
  • 49% say it’s difficult to work with GenZ all or most of the time
  • Top reasons they feel GenZ is difficult to work with is they lack of technological skills, effort, and motivation
  • 65% say they more commonly need to fire GenZers than employees of other generations
  • 12% have fired a GenZer less than one week after their start date
  • Being too easily offended is a top reason GenZers get fired

Gen Z employees have been accused of lacking office etiquette, having poor communication skills and struggling to concentrate. It’s worth noting that it’s typical for older generations to complain about the decline in standards of the younger generations. We tend to forget how green we were when we first started in our careers. Furthermore, Gen Zers are facing new and varied challenges such as starting out in your career during a global pandemic.

The most stressed generation of workers

As reported by the BBC here, according to Cigna International Health’s 2023 survey of almost 12,000 workers around the world, 91% of 18-to-24-year-olds report being stressed – compared to 84% on average. Gen Zers have joined the workforce during significant world uncertainty and instability, they also face a more precarious financial future. Studies show that Gen Zers are struggling more than previous generations to save money and hit milestones such as home ownership.

Is it time to look at work differently?

Generation Z employees are at the frontline of setting greater boundaries at work and seeking jobs that are more meaningful. This generation wants work to look different.

As this Deloitte analysis of Generation Z workers states, “while salary is the most important factor in deciding on a job, Generation Z values salary less than every other generation: If given the choice of accepting a better-paying but boring job versus work that was more interesting but didn’t pay as well, Gen Z was fairly evenly split over the choice.”

What should companies do?

In order for your company to attract Gen Z talent, you will need to show you have admirable values and are committed to broader societal changes such as climate change and equality. Companies are also expected to treat employers as individuals and protect them from toxic workplace practices such as bullying.

Hannah Jewell states in this Guardian piecethat “a new generation of employees is refusing to simply ‘tough out’ bad treatment and bad pay. What’s so wrong with that?”

Generation Z employees may have a lot to learn in the workplace (of course they do, they’re new to it). However the norms of our working lives are also shifting and employers need to adapt and improve.