Age discrimination is illegal. Usually the enforcement of these laws involved older workers, but what happens when a manager or store (or industry) expresses negative and stereotypical views about younger workers? A Dollar Tree manager found out recently, when she posted a handwritten sign announcing her store’s temporary closure and blaming the problem on Gen Z employees who “don’t know what work means,” then pleading for job applications from “Baby Boomers only!” (She was fired, in case there was any question.) But when the sign appeared and spread throughout social media, many of the responses exhibited similarly biased attitudes, painting all young employees with a broad brush of laziness, lack of work ethic, and disloyalty. But just like most stereotypes, facts don’t support those ill-informed beliefs. Rather, the work attitudes of Gen Z align closely with those of the Millennial generation, including a prioritization of finding a job that made them happy and aligned with their moral and ethical beliefs. They require more flexible approaches to work, to the extent that 36 percent of Gen Z and 42 percent of Millennial workers surveyed indicated they would take a pay cut to have a job that allowed them better wok–life balance. These objectives are not empirically or demonstrably problematic; employers can attract dedicated workers if they provide such flexibility and ensuring employees’ well-being. But they do differ from the core beliefs of Baby Boomers, most of whom would refuse to be unemployed, even if it meant taking a job they hated. In the end, neither side has a monopoly on the right way to work—though the Dollar Tree manager clearly shows how not to do it.
Source: Tom Ryan, “Do Gen Z Workers Deserve to Be Called Entitled?” Retail Wire, April 26, 2022