Author: Ginny Hogan Source: The Bold Italic
Millennials have long held the oft-craved title of youngest and laziest members of the workforce. From sneaking selfies in the break room to declaring a chipped nail a valid reason for taking a “me day” off from work, we’ve earned the ire of our bosses, but that time has come to an end.
Well, it hasn’t, but there’s a new sheriff in town. Gen Z, the generation born between 1997 and the early 2010s, is now entering the workforce. But Gen Zers aren’t exactly like us millennials. They grew up during a recession, and their attitudes about work and money vary wildly from those of their peers. Additionally, they don’t remember life before the internet (and might not even believe there was life before the internet), so they’re even more hooked on their devices than millennials are. Still, they can view millennials as a cautionary tale about what happens if you assume the economy will be good, and they’re willing to work to stand out on their own.
Let’s explore how Gen Zers and millennials differ in the workplace with respect to all the most important issues, like lunchtime, crop tops, and frequency of pee breaks (I’m a millennial — can you tell?).
Gen Zers: Grew up during a recession and understand the importance of a job. They’re willing to do many different things, and they know that without consistent work, they’re unlikely to ever pay back their student loans.
Millennials: None. Or if they absolutely have to have a job, they want that job to be A) remote; B) without a boss; and C) extremely impermanent.
Gen Zers: Grew up on the internet and rely on it for any and all information. As a result, before heading into an interview, they obsessively research the company (and have probably been watching the company’s Instagram Stories for weeks), so they know exactly what to ask about.
Millennials: Focused on experiences. If they’re not going to get the job, which they don’t expect to anyway, at the very least, they want to get a good story out of it. So, yes, they might ask the interviewer if they’re on Tinder. Because they’re curious, and it’s funny.
Gen Zers: The first day for a member of Gen Z is probably their first day of a first job ever. Because of this, they’ll arrive early (and likely be nervous), so they’ll come overprepared with donuts (gluten-free, obviously) and a large coffee for their boss (with almond milk, duh, or oat if they have their sh*t together).
Millennials: For a millennial five years out of college, this is probably their 34th job. This job is really just the first day of the next fortnight of their lives. As such, they arrive late, because fixed hours are restrictive and—honestly—probably fascist.
Gen Zers: The most stylish generation to-date. They’ve grown up on Instagram, and they’ve found affordable ways to copy Kendall Jenner’s look. Sure, they’re probably too hot to work at a tech company, but it’s not their fault — their main hobby as a teenager was looking at photographs of themselves.
Millennials: Rules about clothing are extremely unfair and perpetuate all inequality in America. Millennials know this better than anyone else (in fact, they’re the only ones who know this), so even if they’re told that there is no dress code, they will still find a way to violate it. Like wearing leggings that allow underwear to be clearly visible? Or wearing crop tops that allow bras to poke out from underneath? You name it; they’ll buy it and wear it to an investor meeting.
Professional Role Models
Gen Zers: The Hunger Games generation likes Katniss Everdeen because she’s a badass with a bow. They want adventure and a way to fight, and they most admire leaders who take a stand and don’t back down from a battle, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. (Although as a millennial, I’d like to add that we love her too! We just wouldn’t actually want her job because it seems, like, kinda hard.)
Millennials: The Lena Dunham generation admires those who are willing to tell their own story (on their parents’ dime) and craft their own identity (funded by the bank of Mom and Dad). They look up to business leaders who’ve created things on their own, like Mark Zuckerberg and Kim Kardashian.
Gen Zers: Have an amazing example that’s just one generation above them, so they’ve learned from millennials’ mistakes and instead have committed themselves to at least trying.
Millennials: Announce that they find the idea of a “work ethic” offensive.
Feelings About the Other Generation
Gen Zers: Willing to learn from their elders.
Millennials: Thinks it’s rude that Gen Zers have decided to be younger than they are.
Response to Feedback
Gen Zers: Take to Snapchat to complain to all their followers about it. Fortunately, it disappears after one day, and they’re safe.
Millennials: Ask, “Why are you doing this to me?” Then, before crying, they leave the office and tweet about injustice in the workforce. Sadly, Twitter lasts forever, and they get fired.
Gen Zers: Eight seconds and fine with it. Make your meetings shorter.
Millennials: Extremely proud of their superior 12-second span. Make your meetings shorter.
Reaction If Caught Using Facebook at Work
Gen Zers: So embarrassed to be on a dinosaur site.
Millennials: Confused about why you’re mad?
Gen Zers: Remembers their parents telling them over and over again not to leave a good job without another one lined up. Still, they dream of becoming an influencer abroad, so when they feel like they can get at least one brand to sign on to sponsor them, they’ll give their two-week notice—and peace.
Millennials: Give no notice.
Proposing an Idea
Gen Zers: Crowdsource their ideas on the internet first so they come ready with some stats on how well the idea does in every subreddit. They suggest the idea and then show the results of the Instagram poll backing up their assertion. No, their data isn’t “good,” but at least it’s there.
Millennials: Have told you their snack preferences a million times — isn’t that enough initiative for now?!