People have varying and strong opinions about Gen Z. As a Gen Z/millennial cusper, I find myself sometimes strongly disliking being considered Gen Z. There are sooo many opinions, and so much assuming that one person represents an entire (and extremely diverse) generation... it's exhausting. And as Gen Z continues to enter the workforce, those opinions have only been able to take on new life.
So, I asked the older generations of the BuzzFeed Community, "What is it like to work with Gen Z, and what are the biggest differences you're noticing between you and your Gen Z coworkers?" While some people, of course, voiced strong negative opinions about the generation, surprisingly, people also discussed awesome positives:
1."You ask them a question, but they don’t answer because they have their AirPods in their ears. Almost all of them come to work and stick those in their ears."
2."I'm a young millennial and manage a bunch of Gen Z'ers. For the most part, I find them to be very fun, intelligent, and capable. The one difference that always makes them stand out is their office attire. We're business casual, but they'll often show up to the office in mini skirts, ripped jeans, and crop tops. I don't think anyone ever taught a lot of them about looking professional."
3."I consider myself a 'young' millennial, as I was born in 1992. I find that I tend to relate most to cuspers and my older Gen Z coworkers between the ages of 22 and 29. I also relate most to millennials who are between 30 and 35. That being said, I notice most differences are with my Gen Z coworkers under 22. At a corporate level, the largest difference I notice is that Gen Z, fresh out of college or university, is not afraid to call out a system that is not doing them justice and will look for other work without a second thought. I don't necessarily disagree with them either."
4."Differences? LOL. Nobody under the age of 30 wants to do any actual work. And before you all flame me and say, 'Nobody pays well enough,' maybe you should have focused on building a career instead of just taking a job you never wanted to do in the first place. There's zero work ethic among young people these days. And before you call me a boomer, I'm 48. I'm a Xennial; get your stereotypes correct... But you're probably too lazy to even do that."
5."Millennial here; I am used to working and planning my private life around it. I have noticed that Gen Z does the exact opposite. The downside of that is that I cannot count on them at work. Even when they're at work, it feels like they don’t actually work. They probably don’t get burnout as easily as millennials, so that’s good. I am only speaking from personal experience and am not saying the whole generation is like that. The ones I had to work with were, though."
6."My partner, a Gen X, was recently impressed by his Gen Z coworker. His boss, a boomer, likes to move extra duties from one person to another, often playing favorites. She views it as a punishment to take duties from one person and praise her current favorite with these extra duties. The millennials feel extreme guilt to turn down this extra work even if they are swamped, and both the millennials and Gen X'ers fear repercussions if they turn it down."
"Recently, the favorite, Gen Z, was given these extra tasks; she asked if they came with compensation, and when told no, she said, 'No thanks' and walked away without any guilt. Gen Z is really going to change the world. Nobody can create a toxic work environment like a boomer can. Most view their success in life as an achievement instead of being in the right place at the right time. They are bullies and should retire; they just can't give up their control over others."
7."A lot of the differences older generations point out have more to do with a lack of life experience. Gen Z'ers are just getting started. COVID impacted them at a crucial time and caused them to delay and/or entirely miss experiences the rest of us had. They’ll catch up over time and be saying all the same things about the next generation in 10–15 years."
8."I'm riding that Xennial line between two generations. What I love about my Gen Z coworkers is their determination to disrupt the toxic power dynamic that has polluted corporate and nonprofit life for decades. As someone who often had to work for boomers, their currency was primarily misery.
"Whatever toxicity dragged them up the ladder, they were determined to recreate that — while still standing at the top of the ladder, refusing to move. The people I hear complain about Gen Z the most are boomers, because they are the Skeksi in The Dark Crystal chanting, 'I am still emperor' at every generation that’s followed."
9."Elder millennial here and former HR Director, the comments about Gen Z's lack of problem-solving skills are too real. I’m guessing helicopter parents and/or micromanaging teachers caused this. Probably good-intentioned, but it really set a lot of Gen Z workers up for failure."
10."Gen X — what I admire about Gen Z is their rejection of the corporate lie that hard work equals reward. I can't quite quit the habit of working above my wage (unpaid overtime) because of my ingrained belief that my worth is tied up in my profession. I rather like the Gen Z insistence on a decent work-life balance, despite the logistical nightmare of managing them."
11."For basic info, I'm Gen X, born in the 70s. What I've seen is a basic lack of thinking on their feet. If they had a problem or issue in school, at home, or wherever, then there was always someone higher up on the food chain who could take care of the problem. If 'A' occurs, then do 'B.' If 'B' doesn't work, talk to a manager, supervisor, teacher, parent, etc."
12."Gen X here, the positives are that they do have a solid work ethic. They are more interested in being engaged in all aspects of the process. The negative is the need for a constant 'good job.' We call it doing our jobs and want validation when we have done work above 'good job.'"
13.Adding a neutral one before we get all of the people insisting Gen Z are lazy and have no work ethic (which, as a millennial, these people have got to get new sheet music; this tune is worn out). Something I did not expect about having Gen Z coworkers was having to teach Gen Z and baby boomers the same computer skills. A lot of them went to school in the era of Chromebooks and tablets, both designed for ease of use largely through limited functionality, and really struggled with the switch to a work laptop — overwhelmingly, a Mac."
And finally, here's someone who can appreciate Gen Z's antics because, like it or not, space in the workforce has to be made for us, and that comes with some changes to the "norms" of the environment:
14."They're so open about mental health and feelings, which I admire the hell out of. Their generation is willing to talk about it freely, rather than older generations who've pretty much kept mental illness (diagnosed or suspected, it doesn't matter) hidden away or never taken seriously. It's one of the few good things to come out of social media that there can be such support and understanding from complete strangers when someone shares their suffering."
Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.
Have you noticed a difference between you and your Gen Z coworkers? Let me know your thoughts!