Sunday, November 21, 2021

The Calamitous Gen Z

Just in case you were optimistic about how America is going to compete in the world markets, along comes Gen Z, the under-25 cohort, to disabuse you of your gauzy visions of a wondrous national future.

I have reported on an excellent New York Times article about Gen Zers previously. I embedded my comments about Emma Goldberg’s article in a post about Brene Brown, a celebrity intellectual who is too confused to be taken take very seriously. Now we have some comments by Greg Giangrande, an executive in an Ed Tech company. I do not know what that is, so I will suppress my tendency to comment. 

Giangrande takes the measure of Gen Z by checking in with Human Resources managers. Apparently, Gen Zers are chronic complainers. They are burdened with grievances and have no sense of how to keep these grievances to themselves. It’s the natural consequence of a culture that has made therapy a way of life.

No surprise there:

The oldest members of Generation Z turn 25 this year, and they currently make up one-quarter of the US workforce. And they’re also gaining a reputation for generating the majority of workplace complaints.

It is a source of growing frustration among many of my fellow Human Resources professionals that the youngest people in offices tend to bring grievances and misunderstandings, no matter how minor to the desk of HR.

One HR Director recently told me: “We stopped offering free soda and you would think we imposed a pay cut. The complaints from the junior staff to HR were unreal. They act more entitled than anyone else.”

The best part, the part that causes your jaw to drop to the floor, is that when they are completely and totally aggrieved, they bring in their mothers-- as though they were in the third grade. Does Peter Pan come to mind?

Another HR executive shared: “We had an employee who wasn’t performing well and was given a performance improvement plan. The next day, I got a call from reception that the employee’s mother was there to see HR. She had brought a binder along with what she felt were performance examples to dispute the company’s assessment of their child.” 

This generation, she added, seems to allow “parental oversight/enablement” for a “much longer” period than previous ones.

“Maybe it’s a result of all those participation trophies!”

They have received so much empty praise, so much self-esteem boosting that they have been rendered socially dysfunctional.

Dare we say, Gen Zers are especially sensitive to being triggered:

“We had an employee complain to HR that they were being bullied,” one frustrated millennial manager confessed to me. “Why? Because their manager told them that ‘flexibility’ didn’t mean they could just make their own hours and be offline whenever it suited them. Instead, they had to discuss their schedule with their manager and be reachable during the company’s core working hours. That apparently is ‘bullying.’”

None of them really feel capable of competing in the marketplace. They have been coddled and swaddled throughout their short lives, and want the government to be more like a mother to them-- taking care of them and loving them unconditionally:

Perhaps Gen Z’s behavior in the workplace is not surprising. This youngest generation is the most diverse, most educated, most progressive and most pro-government in history. According to Pew research, 70 percent of Gen Zers say the government should do more to solve problems rather than businesses and individuals. In short, they want a higher power to intervene and fix their problems.

Giangrande recommends that they all start growing up:

Gen Z, in short, needs to take some responsibility for their own personal growth. Before rushing to HR to complain, young employees should try spending more time talking to their bosses and colleagues first. Most workplace conflicts (particularly those that don’t rise the level of unlawful conduct) are best solved between coworkers.

If that doesn’t work, they should go to HR for help — but never, ever ask their parents to intervene!

So, the solution is clear. These youngsters should develop constructive and cordial relationships with their colleagues, coworkers and managers. And they should learn how to deal with their issues, without calling in their mothers.


Freddo said...

It would be highly problematic to start telling employees to start acting white/asian.

Anonymous said...

IMHO the problem with most people alive today in the U.S. is they did not go through what the greatest generation went through; WW II and the great depression. Those two events "built" them into stronger better people. The bad news is that I think we are about to go through one or both of those events again and I only hope it creates a stronger America.

sharecropper said...

Had I asked my mother to intervene with my employer, she would have kicked my butt up between my shoulder blades.

Sam L. said...

Freddo, "asian" would blow them out of the water, let alone #white". Ohhh, the HORROR!! The horror...

Anon, they haven't even lived through the '70's...

Stuart, ya done gooooooooooooooooooooood.

mimetic polyalloy said...

And disproportionately female, no doubt.

IamDevo said...

As has been said many times (but it bears a million more repetitions until we actually GET IT!), hard times create strong men; strong men create good times; good times create weak men; weak men create hard times. The weakest of men are in the ascendancy among Gen Z. My only question is how well they will bear up the benevolent caresses of their Chinese overlords?

markedup2 said...

We stopped offering free soda and you would think we imposed a pay cut.

Not a very apt example, since you effectively DID impose a pay cut. Granted, it's not as drastic as "we stopped offering free parking, 401(k) match, or health insurance", but it's still a pay cut.