Gen Z really are the hardest to work with—even managers of their own generation say they’re difficult (2024)

It’s no secret that Gen Z often gets flak for, in the words of the Sister Act star Whoopi Goldberg, not “busting their behinds” at work quite like previous generations did.

Earlier this year, the Oscar-winning actress Jodie Foster complained that Gen Zers don’t show up to work until 10:30 a.m., and an MIT interviewer blasted the generation for always “being late.” Just last month, one CEO vented his gripe with Gen Z when a young job candidate refused to do a 90-minute task because it “looked like a lot of work.”

But it’s not just Gen Xers and baby boomers who have taken stock of how different (or rather, difficult) the youngest generation of workers are. Now even Gen Z hiring managers are complaining about their own generation’s work style.

Resume Genius asked 625 U.S. hiring managers which generation is the most challenging to work with, and 45% pointed to Gen Z. What’s more, 50% of Gen Z hiring managers admitted that their own generation is the most difficult to manage.

Perhaps surpringly, baby boomers—who have been caught in their fair share of criticism too for not being in touch with today’s workers after buying McMansions in the suburbs on one wage and then refusing to retire—were voted as the easiest to manage.

However, being easy to work with isn’t making the oldest generation of workers any more hirable: In fact, baby boomers are the last people employers expect to hire right now.

While just 4% of the hiring managers surveyed expect to hire baby boomers in the year ahead, a third admitted they will probably end up hiring Gen Zers.

Despite being the most difficult generation to work with, Gen Z are the second most likely-to-be-hired job candidate of choice. The most popular? Their slightly more seasoned millennial peers (45%).

In comparison, only 14% of the hiring managers surveyed expect to hire Gen X workers in the year ahead.

Workers get easier to manage with age

The survey didn’t delve into why Gen Z workers are more challenging to work with than their peers, but it’s hard to ignore the fact that latest cohort of workers came of age during the pandemic.

Not only did Gen Z miss out on major milestone college experiences, from frat parties to literally tossing their graduation caps in the air, but they also didn’t get to taste the world of work through summer internships before diving into the job market.

It’s why employers are now giving graduates extra training to get them up to speed. Take the world’s Big Four consulting firms: Deloitte, PwC, KPMG, and EY are all offering incoming junior hires soft-skills training, including lessons on how to speak up in meetings.

“It’s wholly understandable that students who missed out on face-to-face activities during COVID may now be stronger in certain fields, such as working independently, and less confident in others, such as presentations to groups,” Ian Elliott, the chief people officer at PwC UK, said in sympathy with young workers.

Plus, COVID-19 isn’t entirely to blame for management’s struggle with Gen Z: As Resume Genius’s survey suggests, workers get easier to manage with age.

While 45% of those surveyed described Gen Z as the most challenging to work with, this dropped to 26% for millennials, 13% for Gen X, and 9% for baby boomers.

In the end, being “difficult” is probably just another rite of passage. After all, millennials will remember being labeled work-shy snowflakes before climbing the corporate ranks into management and putting the heat on Gen Z.

But instead of trying to wrestle with making the youngest generation of workers easier to manage, the research’s author suggests businesses bend to Gen Z.

“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,” wrote Geoffrey Scott, senior hiring manager at Resume Genius.

For example, according to the research, Gen Z managers are most likely to make hiring decisions based on what candidates put down as their “hobbies and interests” on their CV, over professional experience.

“Gen Zers might have a bad rep, but they have the power to transform workplaces for the better,” Scott concludes.

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Gen Z really are the hardest to work with—even managers of their own generation say they’re difficult (2024)

FAQs

Gen Z really are the hardest to work with—even managers of their own generation say they’re difficult? ›

Resume Genius asked 625 U.S. hiring managers which generation is the most challenging to work with, and 45% pointed to Gen Z. What's more, 50% of Gen Z hiring managers admitted that their own generation is the most difficult to manage.

Is Generation Z hard working? ›

Career ownership

Not only do Gen Z work hard, they also take responsibility for their career. This generation is willing to put in the extra hours if they'll be rewarded for it. They are competitive and want to be judged by their merit.

What does Gen Z struggle with the most? ›

Gen Z Struggles With Mental Health

According to McKinsey, over half (55%) of Gen Zers report having either been diagnosed or receiving treatment for a mental health condition, compared to 31% of people aged 55 to 64, who have had decades longer to seek and get treatment.

What is the problem with Gen Z in the workplace? ›

Many Gen Z employees prioritize working for companies that align with their values and contribute positively to society. When they feel disconnected from the purpose of their work or perceive their employer's values as misaligned with their own, it can lead to decreased job satisfaction and motivation.

Is life really harder for Gen Z? ›

Gen Zers are having a harder time making ends meet, let alone building wealth. Roughly 38% of Generation Z adults and millennials believe they face more difficulty feeling financially secure than their parents did at the same age, largely due to the economy, according to a recent Bankrate report.

What is the hardest generation to work with? ›

While 45% of those surveyed described Gen Z as the most challenging to work with, this dropped to 26% for millennials, 13% for Gen X, and 9% for baby boomers. In the end, being “difficult” is probably just another rite of passage.

Are Gen Z good managers? ›

Eighty-one percent of direct reports under Gen Z managers agreed that the youngest generation is good at giving useful feedback on how their workforce is performing, according to HR company Culture Amp.

What are Gen Z weaknesses? ›

However, Gen Z has certain weaknesses. They have a rather indifferent attitude towards security and prioritize convenience over security . They also experience a low perceived behavioral control and lack education on how to behave securely online .

How do you deal with a Gen Z employee? ›

Managers should adopt the following strategies and approaches when managing their Gen Z employees:
  1. Non-hierarchical structure.
  2. Work-life balance.
  3. Mental health focus.
  4. Learning opportunities.
  5. Career progression.
  6. Personalised approach.
  7. A human-first approach.
  8. Clear expectations & communication.
Feb 22, 2024

Why does Gen Z struggle with mental health? ›

The state of the world also fuels Gen Z's pessimism. An ongoing study at Montclair State University finds that Gen Zers perceive the world as more dangerous than their older counterparts. They're more likely to feel anxiety about extreme weather. Active-shooter drills became the norm while they were in school.

Why is Gen Z struggling financially? ›

In pursuit of economic security, this generation has pursued higher education with student loan debt — they are more likely to have loans (36% of older Gen Zers versus 31% of millennials) and to hold higher balances (Gen Zer's median debt value is 14% higher than that of millennials) (Hernández Kent & Ricketts, 2022).

What is Gen Z life expectancy? ›

The members of Generation Z, the oldest of which are now in their 20s, on average are expected to live to 100 and beyond. Health technology may or may not eventually lift Gen Zers well past that. They could be the generation that collectively hits the biological ceiling.

Which Gen is the most stressed? ›

Although the stress of experiencing a continuing polycrisis affects people of all demographics, recent research from GlobeScan shows that Gen Z respondents across 31 countries and territories are more than twice as likely to say they frequently experience stress and anxiety than are Baby Boomers and older.

What is the work attitude of Gen Z? ›

One of the unique factors of the Gen Z work ethic is their assertiveness. They are more likely to demand better salaries and career advancement while millennials advocate for them. Meanwhile, millennial workers prioritize job security with the lessons from the 2008 recession.

What are the negatives of Gen Z? ›

Share:
  • Gen Zers have a short attention span. ...
  • Gen Zers are multitaskers. ...
  • Gen Zers are addicted to technology and can't handle face-to-face interactions. ...
  • Gen Zers expect too much from the brands and companies they interact with. ...
  • Gen Zers want to be rewarded quickly.

What skills are Gen Z lacking? ›

Interpersonal communication skills

Gen Z is the first to admit it. Many acknowledge their lack of interpersonal communication skills needed in the workplace. In a recent U.S. Harris Poll , 65% of them said they struggle to make conversation with colleagues.

Is Gen Z more well behaved? ›

When I compare Generation Z with my own generation, Generation X, the young people I worked with were far more dedicated, tenacious and better behaved. One example is seen below. Partly this is the outcome of price, advertising (or lack of it) and health education but that is not the whole picture.

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