The Laziest Generation
Why you can’t recruit millennials and Gen-Z to your business
The Go-To Excuse
“The Gen-Z situation is not motivated to come out and work. They’d rather stay at home.” A statement uttered in a conversation I found myself in this week with a boomer who manages a business.
I’ve had this conversation more times the past 2 years, than Bill Murray smacked the alarm clock in Groundhog Day. The notion that millennials and Z’s “just don’t want to work” or “are lazy and entitled”.
It’s my duty as an elder millennial to respond.
The workplace has changed, and it’s your fault
In 2020, I, like many of you, had to work from home during phases of the pandemic. At the time, I was in the same industry I started my career in at 18 years old. To no surprise to me, panic struck the company I was with when we were forced to work from home because of local and state mandates.
The industry I worked in was notorious for always being 10 years behind any work trends that existed. So remote work was something they were not prepared for or knew how to navigate.
What they found was an unwelcomed gift.
Productivity, moral, and work life balance INCREASED. Expenses DECREASED. Great news right? Wrong.
The decree finally came down, “Return to Office on Monday”. While some celebrated this (yes, I understand certain roles benefit from an in-office environment), the millennial and Z employees requested a re-evaluation of certain roles to be partially remote or hybrid positions. After all, the proof is always in the numbers, right?
The fact is that the stigma still exists in some industries that you must punch the time clock from 9 to 5, or in my case at the time 7–6.
“I’m paying you to be here”. — Many bosses I’ve encountered.
No, you’re paying me to make you money. Remember, business 101:
Low Expenses/Labor = GOOD
Productivity and Efficiency = GOOD
You can’t blame a generation (or two) on your inability to future proof your business model.
So what about today? Here’s what you’re missing about Millennials and Gen-Z in the workplace:
1. Tenure is Dead
Your turnover rate is only going to continue to increase as time goes on. People want to try new things, experience alternative places, and find passion in the work they’re doing.
I spent 18 years in the same industry before finding a way out in 2020. The one thing I took from that, I should have done it 10 years ago.
My grandfather spent his entire career, from age 17–66, with the same company. He stayed through 3–4 acquisitions. He was passionate about his work.
While I absolutely admire and respect that dedication and tenacity. This passion looks completely different from today’s working generation.
Employees value innovation, change, and progression over stability and structure.
The workplace needs to keep up with culture. In a world of YouTube Shorts, Instagram Reels, and TikTok Trends, companies need to keep employees excited and engaged.
2. Passion First
People (even those close to me) would constantly tell me:
“No one likes their job, you just have to do it”
While I agree that every job/career field has stress and components of displeasure, these two generations are rejecting the notion that you must be unhappy all the time.
Having work and, more importantly, a company that has MISSION and PURPOSE is more appealing than huge paydays.
The choice between being a Content Creator VS. Administrative Assistant for 40K/year… is no choice at all.
3. Less Bullsh*t, More Freedom
A hybrid or fully remote work environment brought to light one very important fact.
Employees have a lot of unproductive and meaningless things taking up their day.
Current employees find that the flexibility to work in concentrated 2–4 hour blocks, with the flexibility of going to the gym or taking a walk in the middle of the day, is more productive than the distractions that the office environment provides.
Unnecessary meetings, co-worker interruptions, constant manager oversight, and the dreaded… when is it 5, so I can leave, all culminate in displeasure with a workplace.
There’s also something to be said for someone who can finish their workday in a new city or town every 3–6 months, while still working for the company they love.
A lot of the criticism given to millennials and Gen-Z’s from elder generations boils down to a couple of things.
1. When your company can’t effectively recruit new talent because you don’t offer the aforementioned incentives, they translate the workload to those that are currently there. Bitterness.
2. Some people are not wired to take chances and leave stability for potential freedom and happiness. That’s ok! Just don’t blame others for not having the same focus in life.
I’ll leave it with a quote from a brash, yet philosophical manager I once had.
“Hey, I didn’t choose your f**kn’ occupation”.