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Are Gen Z a bunch of snowflakes?

Blair McPherson - former Director, Author and Blogger

Is the younger generation too sensitive, too easily offended and lacking the inner toughness required to deal with the challenges and inevitable setbacks of every day work? When I read this I immediately thought of the Monty Python sketch “ You were lucky” in which a group of old men sit round complaining that the youth of today have it easy compared to them as each tries to out do the other with increasingly ridiculous claims of extreme hardship.

Of course it’s not a new thing to complain about the younger generation their  attitude to hard work, their apparent reluctance to start at the bottom and work there way up, their , “unrealistic” expectations. I remember my kids doing work experience and complaining that they were expected to make the rest of the team drinks and do boring stuff like photocopying!

Never-the-less I do not think Gen Z is less resilient,  it’s just they are more open about their mental health and more vocal about their desire for a good work/life balance. This can come over as less ambitious, defiantly less driven , may be less dynamic  but not less professional, conscientious, or self motivated.

Yes I have commented on people being too easily offended and too sensitive compared with my generations experience of work. But then I remember managers who were offensive and insensitive, where management bullying was just something you had to put up with, a work environment where as a manager to admit feeling anxious or stressed would be seen as a weakness and rule you out of any further promotion.

The return to work following the Pandemic has certainly made a lot more people think about their work life balance. Hybrid working arrangements have made managers rethink their approach to monitoring work and supporting employees .Gen Z symbolise a change in the attitude of employees particularly those in highly skilled and professional roles.

The real issue is that many of the older generation in recruitment and senior management have yet to adapt/recognise the need for a different style of management/leadership in order to get the best from a changing workforce. Don’t for example view commitment as signing up to the long hours culture or a desire to have a good work life balance as a lack of energy and passion for the job.
Don’t view an apparent lack of career ambition as a lack of ability, self confidence or enthusiasm. Respond to the increased openness about mental well-being and concerns about anxiety and stress as an opportunity to show the organisation  sees employees as individuals to be valued and nurtured not work units to be exploited and discarded if they are not fully functional.

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