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Don’t Discriminate Against Generation Z

February 17, 2024

As Gen Z continues to assert its presence in the workforce, marked by its diverse composition and unapologetic advocacy, employers are urged to recalibrate their approaches and expectations to foster a more inclusive and productive work environment for all generations.

In a survey from 2023, Resume Builder surveyed 1,344 managers and business leaders and found 74% believe GenZ is more difficult to work with than other generations.  The survey also found:

  • 49% say it’s difficult to work with GenZ all or most of the time
  • The plurality of these business leaders and managers prefer to work with Millennials
  • 65% say they more commonly need to fire GenZers than employees of other generations
  • 12% have fired a GenZer less than one week after their start date
  • Being too easily offended is a top reason GenZers get fired

About half (49%) of survey respondents find it difficult to work with GenZ all (11%) or most of the time (39%). Additionally, 16% say they find it difficult a lot of the time, 20% say some of the time, and 10% say not much of the time. Only 4% said they almost never find it to be difficult.

The reason managers find GenZers to be challenging employees is they feel they lack technological skills (39%), effort (37%), motivation (37%), among other skills and traits.

It doesn’t help the GenZers when there are Gen Z “influencers” on TikTok or other platforms complaining about having to work a “9 to 5” day or how they quit when the manager may have “demeaned” them.  Are these influencers representative of the GenZers?  Unlikely, but the damage has been done.

Unlike the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act that focuses on age 40 and higher, Michigan age discrimination laws can be applied to any age.  Outten & Golden associate Brittany Argyriou, who practices in New York and New Jersey, said she’s been seeing an uptick in age bias claims by young workers.  These claims have seen patterns of intersectionality.  Gen Z is the most racially and ethnically diverse generation in U.S. history. In 2020, just 52% of GenZers were white, and the group is likely to be majority nonwhite by 2026, according to the Pew Research Center. A third of Gen Z adults identify as LGBTQ, according to 2024 data from the Public Religion Research Institute.

GenZers are not afraid to speak up.  They have experienced technological changes in a rapid way, lived through a pandemic, seen their parents struggle at times, and are not afraid to say to an employer, “If your values don’t match mine, why should I work for you?”

Offit Kurman principal Deborah Petito, who leads the firm’s labor and employment practice group from Los Angeles, said she’s been getting calls from employers who are having a hard time with their young workers.  She pointed to the issue of pronoun use in the workplace as being a tough one for employers. For example, if a GenZer asks coworkers to use “they/them” pronouns when referring to them and a colleague slips up, or gets confused, Gen Z workers are “very sensitive to it,” Petito said.

The long and short of it is that employers need to treat all employees the same and set expectations from onboarding to work experience.  This new generation will be dominating the workforce, and they have different approaches and expectations than previous generations.  Employers will have to adapt.


By Anthony Kaylin, courtesy of SBAM-approved partner, ASE.  Source:  Resume Builder 4/17/23, Law360 2/5/24

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