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Managers frustrated with Gen Z’s work ethic and social skills: Do you agree?

Are Gen Z work ethics frustrating?

In today’s workplace, Gen Z is stepping onto the scene, and it’s causing some raised eyebrows among managers who aren’t quite sure if they’re ready for the job. Gen Zers, those born from the mid-1990s to the early 2010s, are donning their work hats fresh out of college and high school. But not everyone’s impressed. Bosses, feeling a bit peeved, are calling these young professionals lazy, and even a millennial manager claims they’re a tad too emotional for the office.

The Opinion

Insider asked managers to spill the tea on what it’s like overseeing Gen Z workers. The result? Over 20 responses from millennials to baby boomers, all dishing their experiences with Gen Z.

Jeff Elkins, a Florida casino’s security director, pulled no punches. He accused his Gen Z crew of trying to find “gray areas” in what he saw as “black and white” issues. His industry is strict and regulated, and these fresh faces have labeled their rules “outdated” and “not for them.” Ouch. Amber Forrest, a 28-year-old pizza shop manager, had her own share of Gen Z tales. She said many of her young hires spend more time munching on free pizza, pocketing tips, and hanging with pals than doing their jobs. “It’s a hit or miss,” she sighed. She estimates that about 70% of them just lack motivation, leaving her with most of the work despite her best efforts to delegate. And for Forrest, a young Millennial herself, this shift is mind-boggling. She remembers when her generation was the one slapped with the “lazy” label. “How the tides have changed is jarring,” she said.

Different take

But not everyone’s throwing shade. Sean Cusack, a 41-year-old director of a biotech startup, defended Gen Z’s style. He found that digital communication and summarizing data in a trackable format work wonders for these youngsters. He also noted that they may seem reserved at times, not because they’re lazy, but because they fear making mistakes.

Experts chime in, saying Gen Z may be lacking in soft skills after all those online classes and remote internships. This might make things like professional emails and office settings feel like foreign territory. Managers, though, have the power to change the game. They can help Gen Zers hone these skills and discover what drives them at work. India-based career coach Abhijit Bhattacharya points out that many Gen Z employees seek meaningful work over big paychecks. They’re willing to trade salary for quality work, but many entry-level positions don’t offer that, leading to disengagement.

Cultivating a “culture of psychological safety” with work-life balance and diverse hiring is key to keeping Gen Z engaged, says C-level HR executive Gianna Driver. These young guns are often more drawn to a company’s mission than just the paycheck.

Trying their best to fit in

But not everything’s smooth sailing for Gen Zers either. Many feel confused and left out at work, with nearly half admitting they’re baffled by office jargon, according to a LinkedIn survey. To tackle this, some are turning to TikTok for advice on boss-talk and work attire, while others are enrolling in office etiquette courses. They’re just trying to make their mark in a world that’s rapidly changing, and they’re doing it their own Gen Z way.

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