When Gen Z Comes After Gen U

Bob Goldman on

They're out there and they're out to get your job. I'm talking 72 million Generation Z young pups, whelped between 1997 and 2012, all ready, willing and possibly able to send an old dog like you out to pasture.

Way out.

I learned about the generational battlefield that is exploding at our workplaces from Emma Goldberg, a reporter for The New York Times and the author of "The 37-Year-Olds Are Afraid of the 23-Year-Olds Who Work for Them."

Of course, you don't have to be 37 years old to be in danger from the Gen Z hordes. You could be a member of Gen Y, born between 1981 and 1996, or Gen X, born 1965-1980. You could even be a baby boomer, born 1946-1964, assuming that you can stop gumming your porridge long enough to drag yourself to the office.

That the latest wave of newbies blames you for the way their workplace works shouldn't be a surprise. Every generation, in turn, secretly harbors the belief that the solution to their problems is to replace all the people currently in place. What is different about the Gen Z cohort is that they are not shy about speaking up about it. Loudly.

This is admirable. It is also fortunate for Gen Me and Gen U, as it just could give us the opportunity we so desperately need to save our sadly wrinkled skins -- and our paychecks.


Consider the situation limned by Ms. Goldberg concerning a supplement company where "a Gen Z worker questioned why she would be expected to clock in for a standard eight-hour day when she might get through her to-do list by the afternoon."

Gen U knows better. When Gen U finishes their work, they take a mature approach to the situation. They simply get up from their desk, tell a colleague they'll be right back, and then crawl on their hands and knees through the cube farm to sneak out the back door, not to return again until the next morning.

Gen Z doesn't play that game. Gen Z slams shut the lid on their laptop, slaps on their earbuds and boldly goes where no employee who wants to keep their job has gone before -- out the front door.

This makes perfect sense to the perfect mind of the Gen Z, but it also provides an opportunity for Gen U. Would it make you a bad person to keep an eye on your generational enemy and use these Gen Z out-of-office experiences as occasions to tell the boss what a wonderful job their shiny, new employee has been doing?


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