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Gen Z Are Toxic In The Workplace, According To Employers

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Complaining about the generation below you is a right of passage that marks getting older and entering into a new stage of life. Most of these complaints are fairly harmless, but one generation seems to be getting the shaft when it comes to public opinion, even though they’ve done – for the most part – nothing wrong.

Up and Coming

Gen Z are the up-and-coming generation who are currently coming of age, and they are the current punching bags for a variety of people and topics. The mainstream media, politicians, employers, and average older Americans have gone out of their way to mock Gen Z, and to paint them in the most negative light possible.

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Gen Z has been painted as the “toxic” generation, and it has been claimed that they are entitled and too involved in social media. Phenomena such as the explosion of Tiktok – a platform that is used heavily by Gen Z – seem to have only proven this opinion, despite the fact that many other individuals use these types of platforms as well.

Employers on Gen Z

This opinion has bled into the workforce for Gen Z. In a period where companies are struggling, and workers are looking for better pay and better benefits to meet the rising demands of inflation and cost of living, some employers have looked at Gen Z and said that they are simply expecting too much.

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That’s what the latest Freedom Economy Index report conducted by PublicSquare and RedBalloon reported this month. In the survey, 68% of small business owners said that Gen Zers were the “least reliable” out of all of their employees, and 71% said that these younger workers were the most likely to have a workplace mental health issue.

“Absolute Delusion”

One of the surveyed spoke about Gen Z’s “absolute delusion, complete lack of common sense, and zero critical reasoning or basic analytical skills.” This has been a common complaint about Gen Z from the older generations, that Gen Z are entirely unequipped to deal with the demands of work.

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Criticism for Gen Z was in full force in this survey. Less than 4% of those surveyed said that Gen Z was the generation that aligned most with their workplace culture, and a whopping 62% said that Gen Z were the most likely to create division and toxicity in the workplace.

Expecting Accolades for Showing Up

Another employee stated that Gen Z had a tendency to “expect promotions for simply showing up every day.” The belief that Gen Z is entitled to more than they have earned simply for living in the world is a common one, though not necessarily one that understands the nuances of Gen Z’s expectations and attitudes.

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These expectations, according to the survey, could even result in lawsuits on the part of these companies. 57% of those surveyed said that Gen Z run the most risk of creating a workplace lawsuit, creating a much higher risk to employers than the generations that came before them.

Largely From Small Business Owners

Those surveyed were largely small business owners, which Dan Space, an HR consultant, said could have skewed the data. These types of businesses, according to data, often do not pay well or offer a high-quality company culture.

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This is important because these are qualities that many in the younger generations have stated are important to them, particularly when hunting for a job. This expectation of a quality company culture has even led to the phenomenon of “quiet quitting” when these expectations are not met.

About Quiet Quitting

“Quiet quitting” is a buzzword term that has been coined by the mainstream media to refer to, primarily, Gen Z’s tendency to only do the work that they are paid for, and nothing more.

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According to many anecdotal accounts, as well as personal reports from Gen Z workers themselves, Gen Z is divorcing themselves from what they see as an incredibly toxic mentality surrounding working. They are not going “above and beyond” what they are paid for, in order to achieve promotions or prestige, like the generations before them. They are simply doing what they were paid for, and then going home and enjoying their lives.

An Incredibly Informed Generation

Dan Space says that this is a common attitude with Gen Z, but that it’s not necessarily a bad thing. “Gen Z is one of the most informed, confident and no BS generation, because they saw what happened to Millennials before them,” he said in a statement.

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“Being told to go to college to get a great job, graduating with up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, with zero tools to get a job, land somewhere and not be given the information on salaries, career development, moving towards compensation models that used mixed variations…So I find they are just far more comfortable with not putting up with this BS and being informed,” he finished.

Gen Z Drawing Boundaries

Regarding the commentary on mental health, Space refuted the claim that they are the “most likely” to have workplace mental health issues. Rather, Space believes that Gen Z are far more confident in discussing their mental health and drawing boundaries, leading to this misconception.

Source: Medium/Alessandro Ricardo

These issues outlined in the report are largely confined to small businesses, though. As mentioned, these companies tend to have lower pay and expect far more out of their employees for less effort on the part of their bosses, which can create a significantly more toxic type of work culture.

Doing Well in Corporate Companies

However, in mid- to large-size companies, Space said that Gen Z tends to outperform with technical skills and geography, politics and interrelated systems. These are skills that are benefiting them in the current world landscape, but it does lead to downsides for employers who simply want obedient employees.

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“You can’t intimidate them the way you could with millennials, nor do they have the Gen X apathy,” Space said. As a consultant, he has told companies that they should be thinking less about how to get more money, and more about how to garner Gen Z approval for the long-term success of their different businesses.

Misunderstandings about Gen Z

The misconception around Gen Z as entitled and toxic could be due to misunderstandings about the time period in which they entered the workforce, HR consultant Bryan Driscoll said.

Source: Medium/Grace Lee

Prior to Gen Z coming into the workforce, there was a period of rapid technological development and advancement, as well as a significant shift in social values. Additionally, during the COVID-19 pandemic, companies began to transition to remote work and had a significant learning curve in training new employees.

An Unjust Portrayal

“The portrayal of Gen Z as toxic for workplaces is not only unjust, but also overlooks the broader context of the evolving workplace,” Driscoll said in a statement. “Their expectations for transparency, inclusivity and purpose in their work often get misconstrued as entitlement or unreliability.”

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Driscoll concluded that characterizing Gen Z as the “least reliable” generation is unfair, and reflects employers’ inability to meet the needs of their staff. “Rather than labeling these workers as problematic, it’s crucial to recognize they are navigating a work landscape fraught with challenges unseen by previous generations, including economic instability and a global pandemic that has reshaped notions of work-life balance and mental wellbeing,” he said.

A Drastically Different Approach

The Gen Z approach to work is, indeed, drastically different from the generations that came before them, but that’s for a good reason. A 2024 Lifesum report found that 71% of Gen Zers would quit their jobs tomorrow for one that supported their wellbeing, and 31% would consider a pay cut for a happier work environment.

Source: Pexels/Christina Morillo

“Embracing these changes can unlock the tremendous potential Gen Z brings to the table,” Driscoll said. “Instead of bemoaning younger generations, employers should consider that maybe Gen Z is onto something.”

Employers Need to Get on Board

Moving away from a cultural expectation of overworking for not enough pay is something that Gen Z appears to be excelling at, and employers are going to need to get on board. Gen Z are rapidly growing into the most prevalent generation, both in the workforce and in voting.

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Rather than complaining, companies and politicians need to get on board with what Gen Z is asking for. They’re not trying to destroy work culture, they’re trying to improve it, and companies that don’t change for the betterment of their employees are going to, ultimately, find themselves left in the dust.

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James Cross

Written by James Cross

James Cross, an enigmatic writer from the historic city of Boston. James' writing delves into mysteries, true crime, and the unexplained, crafting compelling narratives that keep readers and viewers on the edge of their seats. His viral articles, blog posts, and documentary-style videos explore real-life enigmas and unsolved cases, inviting audiences to join the quest for answers. James' ability to turn real mysteries into shareable content has made him a sensation in the world of storytelling.

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