Managers are Reporting That Gen Z Workers are “Lazy” and “Lack the Basic Social Skills Necessary to Hold a Job”

By: Carissa | Last updated: Nov 12, 2023

Gen-Zers have gotten a bad reputation for being unproductive and even downright “lazy” on the job.

Generation Z consists of people who were born between 1996 and 2010, making Gen Zers anywhere from 13 to 27 years old. The young crowd of workers has infuriated managers across various industries, leaving many bosses frustrated and confused about how to effectively lead their Gen Z employees toward success.

Gen Zers Have Been Deemed ‘Too Emotional’ At Work

Managers everywhere are reportedly at their wit’s end when it comes to dealing with Gen Z employees.

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Gen Zers are typically young people who are in high school, college, entering the workforce with their first real job. Members of this demographic have been accused of being “too emotional” while at work, leaving their superiors unable to properly manage them on the job.

Much Confusion About How to Approach Gen Z Employees

Given the fact that Gen Zers are mostly teenagers and young adults in their early to mid-twenties, they are still learning how to behave on the job.

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According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, most millennial managers view Gen Zers as a liability simply because they let their emotions get the best of them. While it’s been suggested that many Gen Z workers struggle to fit in at their place of employment, it certainly doesn’t help that their managers are unsure how to guide them.

Surveying Managers on Their Opinions of Gen Z Employees

A recent study surveyed more than 20 managers to gather their opinions on what it’s like overseeing Gen Z employees.

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Of the people who were polled, some of them were millennials (born between 1981-1996), while others were baby boomers (born between 1946-1964). Their varying perspectives were interesting and some of their experiences with Gen Z workers may shock you.

One Manager Believes Gen Z Workers Struggle to Focus

Being young does have its perks, but it also can be difficult to stay focused on work as a Gen Zer.

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According to Jeff Elkins, the director of security for a Florida casino, many of the Gen Zers he’s hired have wasted valuable time on the job searching for ”gray areas” on topics he considers to be “very black and white.” This trait has often led to Elkins being frustrated by his Gen Z employee’s inability to focus on getting their work done.

Thinking the Rules “Don’t Apply” to Them

While his industry has strict regulations, Elkins has found that his young employees usually have trouble following the rules because they think they are outdated.

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Elkins says that standard operating procedures that have been in place for decades have been called “antiquated” by Gen Z employees. He further added that Gen Z workers generally “feel [the rules] don’t apply to them.”

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Majority of Gen Z Workers “Lack Motivation”

A 28-year-old pizza shop manager named Amber Forrest revealed that many of her Gen Z hires have been caught eating food without paying for it, pocketing tips, and hanging out with their friends instead of actually working.

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While she’s had her fair share of negative experiences with Gen Zers on the job, she hasn’t completely ruled out all young workers. “It’s a hit or miss,” said Forrest. “I would say 70% don’t work out because they lack motivation and initiative. It’s irritating because most of the time I end up doing all the work despite my efforts of delegating.”

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Young Workers Used to Be Highly Sought-After

Working with unmotivated Gen Z employees has been challenging for Forrest, who just barely missed the Gen Z mark herself.

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As a young, yet determined millennial, she admitted that society viewing her peers as lazy is “beyond frustrating,” before adding that young workers were once seen as the most viable and vivacious members within a workplace setting. “How the tides have changed is jarring,” she said.

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There Are Times When Gen Z Work Styles “Work Best”

Sean Cusak, a director of a biotech startup, was one of the few people to defend Gen Z’s way of working. The 41-year-old even claimed that sometimes the methods of Gen Z employees work best.

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In his field, Cusask cited “summarizing data in a trackable, digital format” as being something that young employees excelled at. While he admitted that Gen Z workers are prone to “shutting down,” Cusack wouldn’t say it’s all because of laziness. “Personally, I would say what I notice about Gen Z is a tendency to turn inwards out of fear of being wrong,” he said.

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Needing Motivation From Management

Experts have stated that a main problem for Gen Z is that they spend too much of their time taking online college courses and working on internships remotely.

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Since so many things are done online these days, many recent graduates lack certain on-the-job skills. It is pivotal for managers to understand this generational challenge and pivot their managing style to help Gen Zers develop proper workplace skills.

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Prioritizing Higher Quality Roles Over Higher Pay

Career coach Abhijit Bhattacharya shared his belief that Gen Z workers prioritize “more meaningful work” over higher pay.

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“They are more likely to trade off salary for better quality of work although salary is an important factor,” he said. But Bhattacharya pointed out what is standing in the way of Gen Z workers feeling valued and appreciated: “Most organizations do not have high-quality roles in entry-level positions,” he said, “Which is a major cause [of] why they feel disengaged.”

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Tech-Savvy Gen Z Employees Use TikTok to Their Advantage

Gen Z workers may often get looked down upon, but there are many advantages to hiring young workers. For starters, most young hires are generally technologically savvy. Gen Z has figured out how to utilize social media platforms such as TikTok to ask the public for answers to everyday work-related conundrums.

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From how to talk to their bosses to what’s appropriate to wear to work, Gen Z has mastered social media. When they have a problem, they connect, talk, and share experiences in order to come to a resolution. Those qualities alone are valuable assets within the workplace.

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