Generation Z is not lazy, we just have a new set of priorities

Gwen Ueding | Cartoonist

By The Editorial Board

“Kids these days don’t want to work anymore.” “Your generation is just so lazy.” “When I was your age, I was working twice as hard as you do.”

At one time or another, Generation Z has probably been told at least one of these phrases or something similar. After all, the perception of our generation is that we’re essentially a group of “iPad kids” who want to make TikToks instead of getting a job.

It turns out, that may not be as true as some would think it is.

Courtesy of The Washington Post
Courtesy of The Washington Post

This is a graph displaying research done by the Washington Post about the employment rates of teens. As you can see, Gen Z works as much, if not more than any group of teens in the last decade or so. Where does this perception of unparalleled laziness come from, and how do we work to change it?

In order to battle this perception, we first need to identify how this notion came to be. The idea that we’re part of a lazy generation can be traced back to a variety of factors, but in this Editorial Board’s eyes, one of the biggest factors is the values our generation holds.

More specifically, the way that we generally view work-life balance.

Contrary to popular belief, we aren’t more averse to work than the generations before us — we just don’t want work to be our life. Most of us work to live, rather than live to work, which is admittedly a large mindset shift from the majority of previous generations.

Another key factor is the rise of technology. We are the first generation of kids to grow up with some semblance of modern devices essentially from day one. That second-nature type of relationship with this new era has resulted in a group of people who have been able to live life more efficiently, and it shows in our work.

But technology is Gen Z’s greatest tool, right? It’s no secret that we live in a rapidly evolving technological world. A world where it seems like every time you turn a corner, there’s a new device or software that’s supposed to make someone, or something, obsolete. Who’s better equipped for an ever-changing technological landscape, than the only generation in the history of the planet who are considered “tech natives?” This is a skill set we should all be taking advantage of.

This is not to say Gen Z is without faults. We have a tendency to look past the ways that older generations prefer to do business. We brush off actions such as face-to-face communication as something that is inefficient or unnecessary, when it is actually vital for building relationships, especially with people older than us.

It’s just as important to be aware of how your actions may be perceived. If you’re in the office and you’ve been staring at your phone for the last hour, maybe you’ve been working from your phone. However, that isn’t always how it looks from the outside looking in. Don’t be afraid to communicate what you’ve been doing, or to try working habits that may be a little outside of your comfort zone.

Although we have our flaws, we are much more than a lazy group of kids, just give us the chance to prove it. Just like the older generations are learning to live in a modern world, we are also trying to live in a world that has no former teachers that had to deal with everything new that’s being thrown at us.