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Gen Z Aren’t Difficult to Work With, They Just Know Their Worth

Are Gen Z difficult to work with, or do they just have a fresh perspective on what work / life balance looks like… 


  • Gen Z have been labeled “difficult to work with,” when really they’re just looking for a healthy work / life balance through strong benefits
  • They are certainly not short on technological skills, so hybrid in-person and virtual work schedules are now their ideal
  • We also know they’re happy to find a new job when one doesn’t suit them, and they even use social media to find them

Gen Z are unique as workers, as they are in so many other ways. And as they get older and start looking for jobs, they’re entering the work world with a completely new perspective: their awareness of burnout and access to more information on employers (especially because of social media) means they have high expectations for what a job should be offering them. But recently, they were named the “most challenging generation” to work with by a survey of more than 1300 managers and business leaders—namely because of their “lack of technological skills, effort, and motivation.” But is that really the case, or are Gen Z just challenging the work norms that made previous generations unhappy too? 

YPulse surveys show that while Gen Z is rethinking what success looks like, working is certainly important to them—in fact, they believe work experience is the number one thing they need to be successful, more so than a college degree. But, their lives and mental health are their first priority, and 52% of Gen Z say their career is not the focus of their life, it’s just a job. So, they’re looking for work / life balance, and a career they’re passionate about, above all else (even high salaries). And that means for companies used to employees who just stick it out when things aren’t how they wished, Gen Z certainly is a rude awakening. But we also know that Gen Z is the future of the work force, and brands who want to succeed in hiring them, and keeping them on the team long term, need to understand who they are as workers.  

In our Ask MaryLeigh Anything webinar, YPulse’s Chief Content Officer MaryLeigh Bliss answered some of the core questions brands and employers have about Gen Z’s working lives: the workplace values they prioritize, how they find new jobs, and how their technological skills are certainly up to snuff. This is what brands need to know about how Gen Z are shaping the future of their careers: 

What are the leadership and workplace values that Gen Z prefer?  

YPulse’s What’s Next for Work trend looks at the new values that Gen Z is bringing to the workplace, and the top thing they’re concerned about is their mental health and avoiding burnout. They want their employers to care about it as much as they do, and encourage them to have a healthy work / life balance. And if they don’t, Gen Z is willing to walk away—evidenced by their role in the Great Resignation. YPulse data showed in 2021 that nearly one quarter of Gen Z had recently left their job, and when asked why, their top answer was a lack of healthy work / life balance. They also said they left because they felt a lack of purpose at their previous job, showing that though they don’t intend for their job to be their whole life, they still want it to be meaningful.  

Another way they’re ensuring they get the work / life balance they want is through what was dubbed #QuietQuitting, or as they’re calling it: working their wage. In fact, 85% of Gen Z who are employed agree they feel like they deserve to make more money, so it seems until they do, they’ll be doing only what’s required of them and nothing more. On TikTok, they show what this looks like: setting hard boundaries about not being available outside work hours, not putting in extra time without being paid extra, and not putting up with mistreatment or having their needs ignored. 

While this can sound to older gens like they’re not willing to work hard—or being difficult to manage—really, they’re demanding their worth be recognized. Quiet quitting could also very well turn into real quitting if not respected; the number one reason Gen Z has said they plan to leave their job is because they can get paid more elsewhere, which they know thanks to the emerging trend of salary transparency among their peers 

However, Gen Z is more than willing to hear where they could improve. Our most recent Employment and Career Goals report data shows 60% of employed Gen Z agree “I wish I got more feedback on my job performance,” which shows they want to do well at their job. So, while managers may have deemed Gen Z difficult, and even lacking in motivation, the case may be that they aren’t willing to help Gen Z grow into their careers—after all, the oldest of this gen are only 21-years-old.  

How has Gen Z being brought up by technology impacted their face-to-face interpersonal skills?  

Older generations might believe that it has impacted them quite a bit. Of course, for Gen Z, communicating virtually is their norm. They interact on digital platforms first. For many Gen Z, they are even more comfortable talking and meeting people on digital platforms and on social media than they might be in person. When it comes to work, 53% of Gen Z who had or were working from home in 2021 said having meetings through video calls instead of in-person was a positive, not a hindrance. Now, hybrid work is their hope for the future: 32% of Gen Z who work non-worksite-required jobs (such as working at a restaurant or in construction), say they think they will work from the office only one to two days a week in five years, and 26% anticipate never going in-person.  

That said, the idea that Gen Z is unable to interact with peers, friends, or coworkers in person is just not true. They’re going to school and spending time with friends. In fact, when we look at our Education research, high school students are more likely than college students to say that they want to go to school in person. They were deprived of a lot of time with their peers for years at very vulnerable ages, so they crave that in-person time as wellfueling their belief in a hybrid work environment.  

How do Gen Z job hunters network and seek job opportunities online?  

Last year, Gen Z were most likely to say they looked for jobs through friends and family, but this year, Indeed is coming out on top. LinkedIn, on the other hand, ranks in at the fourth most common answer for where they job hunt, and just behind it is TikTok. You might wonder how they could possibly find a job through TikTok, but the reality is several companies are now recruiting directly through social media with great success. Beauty Brand Lottie London has hired Gen Z to marketing positions by allowing them to apply through DM, sans cover-letter, making the process more their speed than what they perceive as tight-collar, corporate LinkedIn. Likewise, CeraVe and Pacsun have both filled roles thanks to their new employees’ TikTok presence.  

This success on social media is due, in part, to Gen Z’s idea of LinkedIn and Millennial-geared workplace cultures as cringey. LinkedIn has become somewhat of a joke to Gen Z as “parodies have proliferated across TikTok, Twitter and Instagram, with posts saying, ‘LinkedIn influencers be like…’ going viral that show the most absurd forms of corporate hustle culture propaganda on the platform.” Gen Z naturally shares their personalities through their profiles on other platforms, especially with their more lax use of TikTok (which YPulse explores in our The TikTok Effect trend report). So, while Millennials were warned of having unprofessional social media presence, especially on public accounts, Gen Z is taking advantage of it and job searching by their rules now. 

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