Generation Z workers are terrifying their millennial bosses with a series of woke and entitled demands, including that their companies support BLM, provide paid time off for ‘anxiety’ and telling the CEOs to do the assignments themselves.
These newest additions to the workforce have left many of their not-much-older supervisors shaking their heads or infuriated before caving in to avoid social media shaming by the web-savvy ‘dot-com kids.’
‘When I was entering the workforce I would not have delegated to my boss. Gen Z doesn’t hesitate to do that,’ said Polly Rodriguez, 34, the CEO of sexual wellness company Unbound, one of many CEOs who aired their grievances to the New York Times.
‘Some young former employees are much more willing to burn bridges.
‘To me it’s shortsighted. Is it worth the social clout of getting gratification on social media but then trashing someone who could continue to help you professionally?’
By 2025, members of Generation Z – those born between 1997 and 2021 – will make up 27 percent of the global workforce, predicts the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Polly Rodriguez, 34, CEO of vibrator startup Unbound (pictured) was called by a Gen Z’er on a Saturday demanding to know how firm would support Black Lives Matter
Rodriguez revealed one incident when her co-founder contacted her to say a younger social media manager had called on a Saturday to demand to know how the vibrator start-up would be supporting Black Lives Matter.
The Gen Zer reached out to her bosses in June 2020, days after George Floyd was murdered. Both bosses were surprised by the call on a non-work day, assuming a staff member would only get in touch on the weekend in an emergency.
Still, the fear of bad publicity from web-savvy workers led Unbound to hire a diversity, equity and inclusion officer to train staff, as well as launching a fundraiser for a group that supports sex workers of color.
Lola Priego, 31, CEO of testing start up Base (pictured), was sent a Slack message by a Gen Z worker giving HER a task to complete
Meanwhile, CEO of lab-testing start-up base Lola Priego, 31, was shocked to receive a note on workplace messaging service Slack from a Gen Z employer who insisted on assigning the boss a task.
Priego appreciated that her underling saw her as approachable, but admitted that another senior colleague was appalled by the disrespect for the traditional workplace hierarchy.
Ali Kriegsman, 30, co-founder of the retail tech company Bulletin, still doesn’t know how to respond when her employees began asking for paid time off for ailments that her generation would grin and bear, like period cramps and anxiety attacks.
She said a typical call-in, usually sent via text, reads something like this: ‘Hey, I woke up and I’m not in a good place mentally – I’m not going to come in today.’
While Kriegsman admires their efforts to prioritize their well-being, she knows that doling out additional PTO could undercut profits. She appreciates the effort to separate work and personal life, a divide that is difficult to maintain in the digital era.
Like other managers, though, she is taken off guard by the generation’s candid manner of making themselves heard, and the way they flout the social norms of the traditional workplace hierarchy. The schism is large despite many bosses being young millennials themselves – those born between 1981 and 1996.
‘As an entrepreneur, I want to call out of managing my team sometimes because my period is making me super hormonal,’ she told the Times. ‘But I’m in a position where I have to push through.’
Tero Isokauppila, 37, told the Times that a junior staff member at his food business urged him to post a black square showing their support for the movement on their social media.
The co-founder of maternity start-up Oula recalled Slack messages from one of her youngest employees asking what the company could do in solidarity with Asian Americans after a series of shootings in Atlanta-area spas.
‘You talk to older people and they’re like, “Dude we sell tomato sauce, we don’t sell politics,”‘ said Gabe Kennedy, 30, the founder of herbal supplement company Plant People. ‘Then you have younger people being like, “These are political tomatoes. This is political tomato sauce.”‘
Kennedy said that while his mostly-millennial 10-person team fall into a rigid office schedule, often working late nights and sharing Chinese takeout while poring over customer feedback, his youngest employees prefer to set their own schedules.
One Gen Zer who interviewed with Kennedy for a full-time position, he said, asked why she needed to clock in got an eight-hour day when she might complete her day’s tasks earlier – Kennedy told her that the role was expected to be a nine-to-five job.
‘Older generations were much more used to punching the clock,’ Kennedy told the Times.
‘You talk to older people and they’re like, “Dude we sell tomato sauce, we don’t sell politics,”‘ said Gabe Kennedy, 30, the founder of herbal supplement company Plant People (pictured). ‘Then you have younger people being like, “These are political tomatoes. This is political tomato sauce.”‘
‘It was, “I climb the ladder and get my pension and gold watch.” Then for millennials it was, “There’s still an office but I can play Ping-Pong and drink nitro coffee.”‘
‘For the next generation it’s, “Holy cow I can make a living by posting on social media when I want and how I want.”‘
Many such young workers have been emboldened by the work from home revolution triggered by COVID, which has seen multiple corporations roiled by fights among staff who resent orders to return to the office.
‘These younger generations are cracking the code and they’re like, “Hey guys turns out we don’t have to do it like these old people tell us we have to do it,”‘ Colin Guinn, the 41-year-old co-founder of the robotics company Hangar Technology, told the Times.
‘”We can actually do whatever we want and be just as successful.” And us old people are like, “What is going on?”‘
‘These younger generations are cracking the code and they’re like, “Hey guys turns out we don’t have to do it like these old people tell us we have to do it,”‘ Colin Guinn (pictured), the 41-year-old co-founder of the robotics company Hangar Technology, told the Times.
Ali Kriegsman, 30, co-founder of Bulleting gets texts from her younger staff who say they are too anxious to work. ‘As an entrepreneur, I want to call out of managing my team sometimes because my period is making me super hormonal,’ she told the Times. ‘But I’m in a position where I have to push through’
Andy Dunn, founder of the millennial-favored clothing brand Bonobos (pictured), was jolted after a Gen Zer tasked with flagging his in-process book for insensitive language – the woke proofreader left 1,100 comments on the documents in just a day.
Andy Dunn, founder of the millennial-favored clothing brand Bonobos, was jolted after a Gen Zer tasked with flagging his in-process book for insensitive language – the woke proofreader left 1,100 comments on the documents in just a day.
‘I feel very sure that I’m uncool,’ 42-year-old Dunn told the Times. ‘I’ve come to accept that.’
Dunn told the times he’s made an effort to step up his sensitivity to gendered language, saying ‘people’ or ‘y’all’ instead of ‘guys.’
‘I’m like “let’s go y’all,” even though I’m from Illinois,’ the entrepreneur told the Times.
On Juneteenth, the federal holiday commemorating the 1865 emancipation of African American slaves in the U.S., Dunn was asked by his young employees whether they had the day off – although he hadn’t considered it initially, he told them ‘of course we’re off.’