Gen Z managers are complaining about their own generation’s work ethic

Recent studies suggest Gen Z members value professionalism and etiquette, and care about their work, challenging the perception that they are difficult to work with.

Recent studies suggest Gen Z members value professionalism and etiquette, and care about their work, challenging the perception that they are difficult to work with.

Published Jun 18, 2024


As Gen Z wonder how their older co-workers will welcome them. Some feel that like their earlier peers, who are often misunderstood, they are unfairly judged by other generations and business leaders.

The younger workers are often criticised for being too rigid, for not following company rules and for lacking manners, reliability and flexibility.

However, Gen Z employees argue that they bring fresh perspectives and valuable skills to the table. They advocate for more flexibility, work-life balance and healthier lifestyles compared to previous generations’ “work until you drop” mentality.

Recent studies suggest Gen Z members value professionalism and etiquette, and care about their work, challenging the perception that they are difficult to work with.

In a recent survey by online jobseekers organisation Resume Genius in May this year, 625 US hiring managers were asked which generation they find most challenging to work with.

The results, published in their 2024 Gen Z Workers Report, reveal that nearly half (45%) of hiring managers consider Gen Z the most challenging generation to work with. Surprisingly, even 45% of Gen Z hiring managers share this view.

Here’s the breakdown:

◆ Gen Z (45%)

◆ Millennials (26%)

◆ Gen X (13%)

◆ Boomers (9%)

◆ Not sure/Doesn’t matter (7%)

Geoffrey Scott, senior hiring manager at Resume Genius, said: “Gen Z’ers might have a bad rep, but they have the power to transform workplaces for the better. Gen Z has already shaken things up, but they’re not here to break things.

“They bring a unique blend of talent and bold ideas that can rejuvenate any workforce.”

Are Gen Z as difficult as people claim?

Generation Z, or people born between 1997 and 2012, have a bad reputation in the workplace.

According to Resume Builder, nearly three in four managers believe Gen Z is more difficult to work with than other generations.

Zoe Kaplan, a senior writer at careers platform Forage, highlights a key trend among Gen Z: the desire to disconnect from work once the clock strikes at the end of the workday.

Unlike previous generations, Gen Z prioritises work-life balance over being tethered to their desks beyond office hours.

According to Deloitte, less than half of Gen Zers (49%) consider work central to their identity, compared to 62% of millennials. Instead of valuing job titles or seniority, Gen Z admires individuals who prioritise a healthy work-life balance.

Adapting to Gen Z’s approach to work requires a shift in mindset. Rather than focusing solely on the number of hours worked, employers should assess Gen Z employees based on their output and results.

Acknowledging that Gen Z’s desire to log off stems from a need for worklife separation can foster understanding and collaboration.

Open communication is key.

Employers should have transparent discussions with Gen Z workers about boundaries and expectations. If unconventional work hours are necessary, clearly communicate the reasons and ensure that employees feel supported.

Embracing boundaries benefits not only Gen Z but the entire workforce. Studies show that maintaining a healthy work-life balance increases job satisfaction and reduces the risk of burnout, ultimately leading to higher-quality work and employee retention.

Gen Z’s reliance on technology and digital communication platforms has also raised concerns among employers.

While they excel in navigating digital tools and platforms, some older colleagues perceive their communication style as too informal or reliant on short cuts such as emojis and abbreviations.

This difference in communication preferences can lead to misunderstandings and friction in the workplace.

Despite the criticism, it’s essential to acknowledge that not all Gen Z individuals fit the stereotypes attributed to them. Many are hard-working, ambitious, and eager to make meaningful contributions to their organisations.

However, negative experiences with a minority of Gen Z workers may overshadow the positive traits exhibited by the majority.

To foster a more inclusive and productive work environment, experts suggest bridging the generational gap through open communication and mutual understanding.

Instead of focusing solely on perceived differences, organisations can leverage the diverse strengths of each generation to drive innovation and collaboration.

The scrutiny faced by Gen Z in the corporate market reflects broader generational dynamics and evolving workplace expectations.

By recognising and valuing the unique contributions of each generation, businesses can navigate the complexities of the modern workforce more effectively.

Cape Times

Related Topics:

careersgen zjob seeker