Despite the fact that many of them have just entered the workforce, Generation Z, those born after 1997, are already getting a bad rap in the office.
According to a recent survey of 1,300 managers, three in four agree that Gen Z is more difficult to work with than other generations, so much so that 65% of employers said they have to fire them more often.
One in eight let a Gen Zer go less than a week after their start date, the study found.
The results hold true for managers in the US and in various industries, who report that young hires have been difficult to deal with, particularly when it comes to language.
“I feel a little bit bound by what I can and can’t say,” Peter, a New Jersey-based hotel industry manager, told The Post.
“I don’t want to offend anyone or provoke anyone. I always have in the back of my mind that I’m going to get mad one day and they’re going to cancel me.”
For Alexis McDonnell, a content creator who managed Gen Z employees at a tech company in Dallas, “The biggest difference I noticed was just a difference in professionalism.
“I think the pandemic played a big part in that because for all of them, this was their first job out of college and their later years were spent remotely,” McDonnell, 28, he told The Post.
Starting their careers during a pandemic may have stunted Gen Z office etiquette.
In fact, 36% of respondents reported poor communication skills among their young employees.
“They all exhibited the same strange behavior in the office,” said Peter, who asked to withhold his last name for privacy reasons.
“They didn’t know how to behave in a business environment. They taught me how an office works, whether it is a hierarchy or something as simple as when someone is in front of you, you look them in the eye.
Another major complaint was distraction, with 36% of managers agreeing that Gen Z struggles to focus.
“We would be on the team calls, and you would be able to tell they were on their phones,” Alexis said.
“If we called them, it was like a deer in the headlights, and you could tell they hadn’t been paying attention.”
An anonymous electrical construction manager agrees that their phone addiction hurts the office culture: “They’re phone zombies. The dining room used to be great: talking nonsense was part of the fun. Now most just keep their heads down and move on.”
In the study, 37% of managers also criticized their Gen Z employees for showing a lack of effort.
“Whenever a customer would come even remotely close to closing time, [they would] be doing anything to get that person out of the office faster,” Peter said.
“I mean, are you in customer service with no interest in helping the customer?”
Many bosses also report that even though Gen Z are the new ones on the block, they demand special provisions.
In fact, 21% of managers reported that rights are an issue with new hires.
“They just have very different expectations when they start a new job,” Matthew Dearden, 35, who oversees dozens of Gen Z employees working enrollment at a university in Ohio, told The Post.
“They want to determine when and how they work.”
“I would say that’s the biggest difference, whereas even Millennials and older generations understood that you come to work and do what your employer asks of you.”
Nathan Punwani, an Arizona doctor who works with Gen Z residents, told The Post that this attitude is even spreading in the medical field: “They start asking things like, ‘Oh, I don’t want to see patients.’ . When I was in his shoes, I never responded that way to any of my supervisors when they told me to do something. In fact, I would, no questions asked.”
He also reports that “disinhibition” with superiors is a problem.
“There were residents calling me by my first name, and it felt a little weird because one of the things about medicine is that you need to create some kind of hierarchy,” Nathan said.
“When you have that kind of informality, supervision becomes more difficult. There are certain red lines.”
And managers are realizing that it’s hard to give feedback.
In fact, 35% said Gen Z workers are too easily offended.
“It takes a little more patience to deal with them,” Danny, who works in marketing and manages three Gen Z employees in Chicago, told The Post.
(He asked to withhold his last name for privacy reasons.)
“You have to be careful because I think they are a little more fragile and sensitive. And you have to deal with their attitude if they don’t take the comments well.”
Employers are also finding that Gen Z employees tend to be more easily offended on the political front.
In fact, a 2022 Deloitte survey found that despite recently entering the workforce, 37% of Gen Z say they have already turned down a job or assignment based on their personal ethics.
“Our Gen Z employees dominated our culture with social justice fundamentalism,” Matt, the leader of a nonprofit organization in Colorado who withheld his last name, told The Post.
“What is pioneered by the 25-year-old communications manager is then adopted by previously rational types from Harvard and Yale who begin to launch accusations of ‘white supremacist colonialism.'”
As Gen Zers are taking their politics into the workplace, more and more employers are reporting that they are walking on eggshells, and even fearful of their own subordinates.
“I’m a normal human being and I’m certainly not an angry racist or homophobe or anything like that, but I don’t know where the line is,” Peter said, “and it seems with the younger generation, the line just keeps widening. redraw every day.”