‘Gen Z Has No Work Ethic’ and 5 Other Gen Z Stereotypes We Need to Break

‘Gen Z Has No Work Ethic’ and 5 Other Gen Z Stereotypes We Need to Break was originally published on Forage.

Lazy. Money-obsessed. Laptops closed at 5 p.m.

There are tons of stereotypes about Gen Z in the workplace, about everything from the lackluster Gen Z work ethic to Gen Z’s tech obsession. Why does Gen Z not want to work? Gen Z only cares about money! Why won’t Gen Z stay in a job? 

Stereotypes of Gen Z work ethic, benefits preferences, and career trends aren’t just hurtful to younger colleagues — they can tangibly affect their careers. Nearly a third of hiring managers say they avoid hiring Gen Z in favor of hiring older generations; 74% of managers and business leaders say they find Gen Z more challenging to work with than other generations, according to a survey conducted by ResumeBuilder.

Leaders can’t avoid hiring and working with Gen Z forever. By 2025, Gen Z will make up nearly one-third of the workforce. While Gen Z may have different ideas and values surrounding work than other generations, that doesn’t mean they’re unhireable, nor that they don’t add unique value to the workplace. 

The key to not only successfully hiring Gen Zers, but also retaining and promoting them, is understanding why they work the way they do — and working with them to help them and the company succeed. We’re breaking down Gen Z workplace stereotypes to better understand this generation’s habits, preferences, and values to optimize for Gen Z’s career success.

>>MORE: Generation Z Workplace Statistics

1. Gen Z Doesn’t Want to Work

Wondering why Gen Z doesn’t want to work is problematic because it makes it sound like Gen Z’s work ethic is poor; however, it’s more of a reflection of this generation’s values about work.

Work to live or live to work? I have this argument with my parents and grandparents often. As a Gen Zer, I’ve always thought that work should be a part of my life, not my whole life. There are so many other aspects of my life — my family, friends, hobbies, and activities — that I enjoy, and in my career, I’m looking for jobs that support work-life balance and healthy boundaries.

Does this mean that I’m lazy and unmotivated? Absolutely not! I still want to grow in my career, but I don’t want to sacrifice my mental health or non-work aspects of my life. 

This sentiment is true for many Gen Zers. According to Deloitte, Gen Zers admire people with good work-life balance more than any other trait, including traditional status symbols like a person’s job, house, or car. In a study of UK Gen Zers, nearly half of respondents say they would leave a job for one that better supported their well-being.

“The reality is that Gen Z has different motivators than Millennials and Boomers, and if you don’t know those motivators, they can come across as lazy,” says Amanda Webster, chief operating officer of Fund&Grow. “A large portion of our workforce at Fund&Grow is Gen Z, and these individuals have ended up being some of our hardest-working employees who exceed expectations, meet their KPIs, and are willing to work overtime to get the job done because they believe in the company’s mission and have taken it on as their own.”

2. Gen Z Only Cares About Salary

Gen Zers get a bad rap for caring about salary, but this money motivation isn’t just because they’d like to have more to spend. According to McKinsey & Company, over half of Gen Zers say they have two or more unmet social needs (like income, employment, education, food, housing, transportation, social support, and safety), compared to 16% of older generations. Gen Zers also believe they need more money than any other generation to feel financially secure. They’re facing worsening economic conditions, inflation, increased cost of living, student loan payments, and higher rent and mortgages. 

Gen Zers also want companies to be straightforward when it comes to compensation. Over 65% of Gen Zers say salary transparency in the job description is their greatest motivator when applying for a position. They’re not afraid to share how much they’re making, either — not for bragging rights, but rather to encourage others to ask for and get what they deserve.

3. Gen Z Won’t Stay in a Job for Long

Gone are the days of staying in a role for decades. It’s true that Gen Z doesn’t want to stay in a job for long; 83% of Gen Zers say they consider themselves job hoppers, according to ResumeLab. Only 13% of Gen Zers say they intend to stay four or more years with their current employer. The majority will stay for two years or fewer.

Yet Gen Z shouldn’t be considered a flight risk. This generation isn’t moving from job to job out of boredom or for the sake of leaving. Instead, they’re willing to leave a job if it means increasing compensation, responsibilities, or upskilling opportunities — which means they’re just as willing to stay if given the same opportunities at their current company. 

“Contrary to the popular belief that Gen Z tends to hop from job to job, my experience at The TemPositions Group of Companies tells a different story,” says Kayla Norflus, senior recruitment marketing specialist. “In just over two years, I’ve progressed from a recruiter/personal representative to a senior recruitment marketing specialist. This journey has not only allowed me to break the stereotype associated with my generation but has also led to significant personal and professional growth. My decision to stay and grow with the company has resulted in tangible benefits, such as leading initiatives that saved the company substantial amounts annually. This experience has taught me the value of loyalty and the impact it can have on both personal development and the organization’s success.”

4. Gen Z Is Screen-Obsessed

“One common misconception I’ve encountered, especially in my work with clients from various industries, is the perception that Gen Zers might be overly reliant on technology for everything,” says Luke Lintz, Gen Z CEO of HighKey Enterprises LLC. 

Gen Zers are indeed digital natives. According to YPulse, many Gen Z got their first smartphones before they were teenagers — on average, Gen Zers used them as early as 12. Today, over 95% of Gen Zers have a smartphone.

This access to technology can make them screen-focused but also make them a technological asset in the workplace.

“I’ve enjoyed working with a Gen Z social media team who completely shattered that [tech-obsessed] stereotype,” Lintz says. “They were incredibly dedicated and proactive, always willing to go the extra mile to meet deadlines and deliver outstanding results. In fact, they showed me how their tech-savviness and adaptability could be huge assets to our team.”

While companies shouldn’t expect Gen Zers to be immediate whizzes with new technology, they shouldn’t be afraid to let them use technology for good. 

At both of my professional jobs, I’ve leaned into the Gen Z stereotype and launched TikTok channels as a marketing tool. Having encouragement from my coworkers to experiment with a channel I find myself naturally in tune with (maybe from hours and hours of scrolling) has not only grown my social media skills but helped bring in new users for the company. 

5. Gen Z Expects a Lot From Companies

We won’t argue with this one. More than any other generation, Gen Z cares about a company’s mission and values, including its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion

According to LinkedIn, most Gen Zers (87%) expressed that they’d be willing to leave their current job if they found another opportunity with a company whose values aligned closely with theirs. Sixty percent of Gen Zers and millennials prioritize values when considering changing jobs.

Gen Z is also fearless in holding companies to diversity, equity, and inclusion standards, and it starts early in the hiring process. According to Tallo, most Gen Zers (69%) are more likely to apply to a job where they see recruiters and hiring materials that reflect an “ethnically and racially diverse” workforce. According to Monster, 83% of Gen Zers say a company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is essential when choosing an employer.

Making company values clear in all aspects of the hiring process — not just the company website but in things like social media posts, company reports, and the language recruiters use in interviews — can help show a genuine commitment to progress.

>>MORE: Top Companies to Work For (if You’re a Gen Zer)

6. Gen Z Only Wants to Work Remotely

Like many Gen Zers, I entered the workforce in a remote job. I graduated from college in May of 2020 and started my first full-time job from my childhood home, on my laptop, in July of that year. After hundreds of hours in online meetings, I finally met my boss and coworkers in person a year later.

Entering the professional world through a remote context makes me value remote work more. I love its flexibility, and how it benefits my work-life balance and allows me to get focused, independent work done quickly and efficiently. 

>>MORE: 10 Top Remote Jobs for College Students

Many Gen Zers may feel similarly, but it’s far from a generational trend. According to a recent study, less than a quarter of the class of 2023 prefers completely remote work, and a third prefers hybrid. According to JobList, Gen Zers mostly want in-person jobs (57%), which is more than other generations. Nearly half of millennials want a fully remote job, almost twice the share of Gen Zers who say the same. 

Having autonomy over work location seems vital to making Gen Z employees happy with where they work. According to Deloitte, Gen Zers and millennials prefer a complete choice in where they work versus employer requirements about when they need to come in. This autonomy helps account for all the different Gen Z experiences with remote, hybrid, and in-person work. Some Gen Zers might feel loyalty to remote work because that’s how they entered the workforce, but the same group of people might crave in-person interaction because they feel like they’ve missed out.

Gen Z Workplace Myths: The Bottom Line

There are many stereotypes about Gen Z’s working preferences and style, from the poor Gen Z work ethic and money obsession to genuinely caring about DE&I. There are truths to many of these generalizations, but understanding why Gen Z has these perceptions is critical to unlocking the truth of how to hire and work with this generation successfully. 

For example, uncovering why Gen Z has a lackluster attitude about work can help bring insights into what Gen Z truly cares about in the workplace. It’s not that Gen Z hates working; they just value work-life balance, boundaries, and employers who care about their well-being. Or, for instance, Gen Z’s screen time doesn’t mean they’re constantly distracted at work. Instead, their ability to navigate digital platforms can be an asset to technological innovations in the workplace.

“It’s all about embracing the diversity of perspectives and skills that each generation brings to the table,” Lintz says. “Gen Zers have a lot to offer, and it’s up to professionals and Gen Zers to bridge the generation gap and make the most of their collective talents in the workplace.”

>>MORE: Next, learn what Gen Z’s saying in the workplace with 50 Phrases Gen Z Uses at Work.

The post ‘Gen Z Has No Work Ethic’ and 5 Other Gen Z Stereotypes We Need to Break appeared first on Forage.