Gen Z is just lazy. Gen Z don’t know what a real day’s work looks like. The current generation has no discipline. These are the attitudes of older generations towards young people’s contemporary take on working life and their willingness to walk away from a job. So, who’s right?
Gen Z is making a name for themselves as being a generation of quitters. When it comes to working, Gen Z is much more likely than previous generations to leave rather than stick it out for an extended period.
The exact timeframe defining Gen Z varies online but generally, the generation is described as those born between 1996-2012. As with any generation, they have unique characteristics that help to distinguish them from those that came before. Gen Z is known for their sarcastic sense of humor and creativity with social media, being the main demographic using and creating content on social media app TikTok.
One of Gen Z’s most stand-out traits is their willingness to walk away from jobs. There are a few reasons the younger generation has this stance despite raised eyebrows from the older generations who had a notably different approach to working life.
A recent report found that 65% of Gen Z workers plan to quit their jobs within the next year. Meanwhile, around 40% of baby boomers stayed in their jobs for more than 20 years. Millennials, who are now mostly in their 30s, lie somewhere in the middle, staying in jobs longer than Gen Z but still having a reputation for job-hopping and staying in a job for an average time of 2 years and 9 months.
Many members of Gen Z grew up listening to their parents telling them how they never had a day off sick. If they were sick, they would go to work anyway. This was the norm of life, work prevailed over physical and mental health.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic which disproportionately affected young employees, there has been an obvious spike in awareness around health and specifically how workplaces are a hub for the spread of infection.
With the mass unemployment that came hand in hand with the pandemic and repeated lockdowns, Gen Z workers were quick to be dismissed due to their lack of experience. While job losses affected people of all ages, the younger generation struggled to find their feet and get the experience they needed to climb the job ladder.
Feeling disposable to employers has led Generation Z to be equally as cutthroat in selecting jobs. The younger generation has seen first-hand the brutality of living and working in a capitalist society. With the rise of social media, the generation is more clued up than most and not afraid to engage in conversations around the topic of mental wellbeing and toxic working environments. Equally, watching their parents slave away for their jobs perhaps didn’t evoke such a sense of admiration, but more of sympathy and subsequently wanting better for themselves.
In a financially uncertain future, there is also much less incentive for young people to work hard when the results are unlikely to lead to a life of luxury, but rather just make ends meet. The cost of living crisis has made it so that young people are very unlikely to climb the property ladder with 70% of millennials being unable to afford to buy a home.
Generation Z is much more focused on work-to-life balance than the older generations. This is not the older generations’ fault, it comes from years of harsh working cultures expecting people to prioritize work over all else, working long hours for average wages and low holiday allowance. Those who work harder and make more are praised, and those who are not as work-driven are branded as lazy. Sick days were frowned upon, women were discriminated against for choosing motherhood, and basic human needs were neglected for the greater good of the corporations.
Having pride in work takes strength, but so does choose yourself, more time for hobbies, and being able to criticize the very system that made many of us compromise our health for our jobs for so long.
Gen Z workers aren’t afraid to demand change and define their sense of self outside of a career. The take is a refreshing one and is even inspiring older people to do the same, particularly as all of our worldviews are rapidly changing in the ever-changing post-covid world.