Is Whistleblowing a Moral Act?
Does the Trickle-down Company Culture Work?

Why Do Managers Criticize the Workplace Skills of Gen Z

Building the Skills for a Successful Career

A recent survey of 1,344 managers and business leaders by Resume Builder said 74% of managers find Gen Z harder to work with than other generations, while 49% said they found Gen Z difficult to work with all or most of the time.

Respondents named lack of technological skills (39%), motivation (37%), and effort (37%) as the top reasons for managers being disappointed with Gen Z's work performance. Other reasons were poor communication skills (36%) and being easily offended (35%).

Characteristic Traits of Behavior

"In our organization, the Gen Zers I have interacted with can be exhausting because they lack discipline, and they like to challenge you," Akpan Ukeme, head of HR at SGK Global Shipping Services, said in the report. "They think they're better than you, smarter than you, more capable than you, and they will tell you to your face."

Furthermore, 65% of respondents said they had to fire Gen Z workers more than any other generation and 12% said they've had to fire a Gen Zer less than one week after starting.

"Gen Z workers needs to embrace the professional skills needed to succeed in today's workforce. However, the responsibility goes beyond GenZ," said ResumeBuilder chief career advisor, Stacie Haller, in the report. "Educational institutions need to properly prepare students and managers and business leaders need to learn to work with GenZ. Bias against younger workers is unacceptable and no different than the ageism that we typically see against Baby Boomers."

One way for GenZ workers to improve their workplace skills is to focus on stronger communication skills, being open to feedback, and being able to adapt to new situations. GenZ also need to work on their critical thinking skills including ethical reasoning.

Developing Workplace Skills Gen Z

The best way to develop these skills is through practice, practice, and more practice. The ancient Greeks believed that we become ethical by making positive virtues habits, that is, part of our character.

The virtues most important for GenZ workers to enhance their skills are honesty, trustworthiness, reliability, and personal responsibility. The essence of all virtues is integrity, which means having the courage to stand by your beliefs and not give into pressure from a superior to otherwise accept wrongdoing.

Of respondents who say GenZ is the most difficult generation to work with, 34% say they prefer to work with Millennials, 30% with GenX, and 4% with Baby Boomers.

For those who prefer Millennials, the top reasons are they believe this group is the most productive (44%) and have the best technological skills (42%).

Other managers prefer GenX because they feel they are the most honest (46%) and productive (42%).

Remote Learning Has Impacted Interpersonal Behavior

“As a result of COVID-19 and remote education, it’s possible that GenZers lack the foundation to be more successful than older generations in entry-level positions,” says Chief Career Advisor Stacie Haller. Also, a work/life balance is more important for them than previous generations.

“We know that with remote work and education, communication skills do not develop as well, and people tend to work more independently. Hiring managers need to be cognizant of this when interviewing GenZers for positions. This generation may need more training when it comes to professional skills.”

What Can Be Done?

I have taught ethics courses at the university level for 40 years. I remember just a few years ago when educators complained about entitled millennials. We criticized that generation for many of the same things that GenZers are criticized as lacking. I recall when I was younger being criticized by my parent’s generation, although that was more for listening to Elvis and Beatles music and having long hair.

The point is every generation gets criticized because previous generations think they are better. I’m not saying the criticism lodged against GenZers isn’t warranted. Some of it is. But they have positive traits as well that trend towards a global view of their responsibility to protect the planet, promote sustainability, to foster betterment of the environment, social, and corporate governance (ESG), and build up social entrepreneurship. This is important to me as an ethicist.

One aspect of behavior that I have found lacking in the most recent worker groups is the lack of a strong work ethic. Gen Z, Gen X, and Millennials get caught up spending way too much time on social media and not enough on developing healthy interpersonal relationships.

We need to acknowledge the technological skills of Gen Z, and Gen X and Millennials as well. Beyond that, rather than criticizing Gen Z workers, we need to work with them to develop the skills needed for success in the 21st century. After all, if communication, critical thinking, and ethical reasoning skills are left dormant it will be more difficult for Gen Zers to make their mark for promoting an increasingly environmental-sensitive world.   

Blog posted by Steven Mintz, PhD on May 4, 2023. Find out more about his professional activities on his website (  Follow him on Facebook at: and on Twitter at: Check out professional recommendations on LinkedIn.