Hardest-working generation? That’d be us, Gen Z says

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Need another reason to grouse about Gen Zers? A new study shows roughly a third of that 16-25 age group view themselves as the hardest-working and most slighted entry-level labor pool in history, even compared with the generation that came of age during World War II.

The report also quantifies the sense of entitlement that restaurant employers routinely cite as emblematic of the age bracket. About a third (35%) say they would not tolerate an employer who scheduled them for shifts or hours they didn’t want, and nearly as many (30%) say a directive to work back-to-back shifts is a deal-breaker. 

They also profess that elders did a lousy job of preparing them for work. Far less than half (39%) say high school provided them with the educational underpinnings to enter the job market. 

About 1 in 5 (21%) say the shortcomings leave them unprepared to be managed by someone, though they had pronounced feelings about what makes a good boss. The three most important attributes, in their estimation: “they trust me” (47%); “they support me” (40%) and “they care about me” (35%).  

About a third (32%) said they would stay longer and work harder at a job where the manager embodied those and other supportive traits. Nearly the same proportion (31%) said their plans would also be impacted favorably for employers if the job provided flexible hours. 

The study is based on a survey of 3,400 Gen Zers in 12 nations. The Meet Gen Z research was commission by The Workforce Institute, the research and insights arm of Kronos, the labor technology supplier. The findings provide validation of the grumbling restaurateurs and other employers often voice about younger employees.

For instance, the respondents showed little respect for their grandparents’ and great-grandparents’ generations. They rated that so-called Silent Generation—seniors aged 75 to 94, which includes the tail end of what’s sometimes termed the Greatest Generation—as the laziest age cohort in history. 

Gen Zers expressed a belief that the Silent Generation had a tough time entering the job market, despite what history books say was a pressing need for labor during the war. Similarly, 36% of the youngsters participating in the survey say they had to push through more disadvantages when entering the workforce than any cohort since the Silent Generation, an assertion seemingly undermined by the “help wanted” signs posted in restaurant windows.

The findings also skewered a few preconceptions about Gen Z. For instance, even though members of that age bracket have never known life without computers, 75% want feedback from managers to be delivered face to face, and 39% prefer to communicate with colleagues in person. 



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