It’s 2018, and my generation – Generation Z – has finally begun the natural progression of joining the labor force. With this, a new era is coming to fruition – one where those in my generation will soon start to dominate the workplace. As is often the case, the Gen Z-er’s will be forced to deal with some of the perceptions that have bled over from our predecessors, the Millennials. Despite having to contend with these perceptions and misperceptions, those of us in Generation Z will also have the opportunity to go WAY above and beyond, defying the current societal expectations of our generational predecessors. Our hurdles will be overcoming the (perceived) failures of the Millennial generation as we work to cut against some of the negative statistical trends that are currently being dealt with pretty much everywhere you look.
What are some of the more common negative perceptions that are attached to the Millennial generation? Employers have little trouble citing issues such as feelings of entitlement, a lack of value placed on employer loyalty, an inability to hold down a job for a significant period of time, and a lack of engagement at their place of work. Unfortunately, not only do these perceptions exist, but, in many cases, there are numbers to back up the claims. For instance, statistics show that 42% of Millennials expect to change jobs within the next 1-3 years, and a study by Gallup revealed that 53% of Millennials are consistently not engaged at work. These are just a few of the statistical realities that are following the Millennials – and their attitudes toward work – wherever they go.
So, how can those of us in Generation Z work to defy these negative connotations that are a direct holdover from the performance of our predecessors? To start with, I believe that we – that being ME and MY generation – need to actively work to reverse the trends that have been set forth by the Millennials. If we want to increase our generation’s prospects for employment, then we absolutely cannot afford to display low levels of engagement at work or disregard the value that employee loyalty holds in the eyes of potential employers.
I also think it would be extremely beneficial to stop the job-hopping trend that has taken hold, and it’s vital that we be willing to truly pay our dues, so as not to don the same reputation of entitlement as is being worn by the Millennials.
Chances are, most of us won’t be able to achieve the ideal work-life balance and career flexibility right from the start – something that has been so intently pursued by the previous generation that when you say the word “Millennial” that’s one of the first things that comes to mind (along with the phrase “participation trophy”). We need to accept the fact that we WILL have to work long hours at a job that isn’t necessarily everything we ever wanted in a career LONG before we can expect to begin our ascension to higher places.
The way I see it, the most important thing is that my Generation must be willing to put in the work and hours that are needed to be successful – and to do so both dutifully and faithfully. There’s nothing to say that we can’t look forward to the fruits of hard work – in fact, that’s something we should do. But, that needs to be accompanied by a healthy dose of reality in the sense that our dreams aren’t going to somehow be magically granted overnight (or, honestly, that they’ll be granted at all)…we have to be OK with working for the sake of working, paying our dues, and earning our keep.
While the Millennial generation has set a pervasively negative precedent within the workforce, Generation Z has the opportunity to reverse that, and the ability to do so with no need to live in the shadow cast by the generation that came before us. But, we have to show up. We have to put in the hard work. We have to show – again and again and again (for as long as it takes) – that we have recouped those qualities that were lost by the Millennials. If accomplished, we will truly stand out as a generation with excellent prospects for employment and can prove ourselves to be a valuable asset for employers.
But, it’s all in our hands. Will we follow the trends set over the last couple of decades, or will we work hard and make our own way? Only time will tell.