Aug 23, 2022 - Economy & Business

Finish Line: What Gen Z, millennials want you to know

Illustration of a coffee mug with the rim shaped like a speech bubble
Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Part 1 of a 3-part "Generations" series ... A rising number of younger workers are "quiet quitting." The idea is to work to live, instead of living to work — stay on the payroll, but focus on fun, fulfilling activities outside of work.

Why it matters: It's exposing a stark generational divide in the way we think about work. So we set out to explore the different generations' perspectives.

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We'll start with the youngest workers ...

I'm a 1995 kid — on the millennial–Gen Z cusp, and part of the newest cohort of workers, Erica Pandey writes.

  • I can't speak for my entire generation. But I've had many candid chats with peers about things we wish our older colleagues understood about the way we think and the way we work.

The big picture: We grew up online, we're the most diverse and well-educated generation in American history, and we've been shaped by the pandemic.

Here's what I hear most:

1. Time to ditch the grind for grind's sake. Younger workers want more from life — and that’s a good thing! A balanced life ought to have time for hobbies, relationships and relaxation as well as work.

  • What that doesn't mean: We're lazy and don't want to work hard.
  • What that does mean: We want to work for a company we care about, and for a boss we respect. And we don't see the point in clocking in super early and clocking out super late if it's only to show face. (The glory in the 17-hour Wall Street workday is quickly dwindling.)

2. Give us something to believe in. Yes, not every job can be glamorous from the get-go, but every company's mission and purpose can be.

  • If the leadership doesn’t live and breathe the mission — it shows. Hook us on your vision, and you'll get the best work out of us.

3. We’re lifelong learners. We grew up amid lightning-fast technological change, and we've seen jobs transform in front of our eyes. We’re innately aware of how important learning on the job is — and we’re not afraid to change up how things are done.

  • Leaders who harness this generation's willingness to learn new things every day will tap into a hugely productive, talented and resilient workforce.

4. Inclusivity isn't just a word that sounds nice. Lip service won’t cut it anymore. Millennials — and even more so Gen Z — are a more diverse workforce than any that came before them.

  • We don’t want to work somewhere where we don’t see a single person who looks like us rising beyond the rank-and-file. That's plain demoralizing.

5. Take a joke! The super-serious corporate culture is fading.

  • Case in point: Companies are ditching their strict dress codes. We fear that managers will think we don’t take our work seriously just because we like to poke fun at ourselves and joke around with colleagues.
  • As long as it’s respectful and professional, there’s nothing wrong with having a laugh with colleagues sometimes.
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