Gen Z Work Ethics – Are They Different from Millennials

Gen Z took over when Baby Boomers retired to enjoy the fruit of their labours. Now Baby Boomers were born of parents who emerged from a war sometimes literally shell shocked. Getting a decent job was drummed into their heads. Their world was about making money – as much as possible – and consuming it conspicuously.  But what of the Gen Z work ethics?

Gen Z was born into….Group of Gen Z friends with phones and coffee

Gen Z was born – at least by the law of averages – into a world filled with silver spoons. Chances were their parents owned their homes, or at least had a stake in them. Education was there for the taking, compared to their parents. And a wonderful world of new electronic gadgets was appearing to lighten up their lives.

I may be exaggerating a little but, Gen Z were born into a richer life than ever before. They are the most analysed, poked at, prodded, and researched generation. They were the dreams of parents who never had it so good. Al least in terms of the better things in life that only money can buy.

…they did not turn out to be spoiled brats

However much to almost everybody’s surprise, they did not turn out to be spoiled brats. Give or take concessions for gap years, drugging, and student days, they mostly turned out to be decent, hard-working citizens.

Gen Z – what’s in a title?

If you are Gen Z as many of our readers are, you may like to compare yourself to Ms and Mr Gen Z. Or Ms and Ms or Mr and Mr, because Gen Z are also the most liberated generation ever in the West. If you don’t mind I’ll switch to using Zoomers from now, because that’s what I’ve heard many Gen Zs are doing right now.

Type Casting the Zoomer Generation (This Could Be Risky)

I realise I am treading on thorns because as a Zoomer, or a generation on either side you are entitled to your own view on these matters. But I am writing about a statistical persona which may, or may not reflect you. Shall we enter the thicket?

Sober, Industrious and Driven by Money

Well, that’s the way Wall Street Journal described Zoomers in 2016. Although it added they were also socially cautious, with a record-breaking desire for financial security. Employers no doubt appreciated the fact they were less daring and more practical. The Journal speculates this was because ‘They came of age during recessions, financial crises, war, terror threats, school shootings, and under the constant glare of technology and social media’. Does this sound like you, or someone you know?

But More Competitive and Less ‘For the Team’

A year later, Forbes Magazine described Zoomers as ‘Wanting to work on their own and to be judged on their own merits’. This set them apart from Millennials to whom inclusion and working in a group was their priority. Perhaps this was because Zoomer parents were still perched on their shoulders, and egging them on to work harder to earn their success. Zoomers want their independence, the Magazine stressed. They dislike having to depend on what other people do.

And Somewhat More Likely to Want to Start a Business

At this point Forbes Magazine diverged from Wall Street’s ‘less daring and more practical’ persona. That’s because they thought Zoomers were 55% more likely to think of branching out on their own, compared to their Millennial children.

To my mind this chimes well with lifting themselves up by their bootstraps, as opposed to joining other people on the bus. It certainly matches the longing for financial success that obsessed their parents when the last great war was over, but they had little to show for it.

We Need to Be Careful How We Type Cast Each OtherGen Z Word Cloud

The Wharton School of Knowledge at University of Pennsylvania warned against overlooking the complexity of individuals in 2019, because ‘over-generalizing about any group is a slippery business’. People have multiple identities, and we are mostly all good role players.

It’s that old chicken and egg riddle again. Did they jump or were the pushed. However, it is certainly true Zoomers are the most highly diverse and educated generation yet. And they will use this as an advantage when, like the rest of us they shuffle their work ethics to suit their work or business.

Are Zoomers Genuinely Different, Or Did We Make Them That Way?

We are all of us, pretty much of us the product of society. Give or take our upbringing and our parents’ genes. We strive to do the right thing at work or business, because that’s how we pay for the necessities of life. The Gen Z work ethic can be seen to be not so different. So are Zoomers made that way, or did they become that way as a result of social pressure. I do know from my own experience if you don’t toe the line, the job (and society) can come down on you hard.

Please respond to this post and let me know what you think, because customers matter most here. Respectfully yours, a latter-day Boomer. Take care crossing streets in strange cities. Happy Zooming, if that’s what you are.

More Reading

GenZ Is Coming to Your Office

Ways Gen Z Will Differ from Millennials

Make Room Generation Z Workplace


Richard Farrell -I tripped over a shrinking bank balance and fell into the writing gig unintentionally. This was after I escaped the corporate world and searched in vain for ways to become rich on the internet by doing nothing. Despite the fact that writing is no recipe for wealth, I rather enjoy it. I will not deny I am obsessed with it when I have the time. My base is Umtentweni in South Africa on the Kwazulu-Natal South Coast. I work from home where I ponder on the future of the planet, and what lies beyond in the great hereafter. Sometimes I step out of my computer into the silent riverine forests, and empty golden beaches for which the area is renowned.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *