IN THE MIDDLE | career advancement

Millennials and Gen Z at Work: Challenging the Status Quo

By Alyanna Silvestre
Published November 11, 2021

Millennials and Gen Z may have glaring differences. The former is a generation too accustomed to structured days longing for higher wages and job stability since facing different economic conditions and realities, including the Great Recession of 2007. Meanwhile, Gen Z includes the youngest members of the workforce, the digital natives whose fate and career journey are being shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic, the crumbling economy, and the rapid global digital transformation. However, despite the differences in how they were brought up and how the world welcomed them to reality, they now have the same goal as professionals: to land a job they deserve, and that either means making demands for a saner way to work or quitting in hopes of a better career. 

There are a few ways to address their concerns and demands, but how do you stop them from leaving? First, you have to see what they really want and understand why they are rejecting the current work model. Here are a few reasons behind the urge of young professionals today to look for greener pastures to help you understand how to attract and retain the very members of the workforce who bring fresh perspectives, new skills, and lots of creative energy to the businesses they join.


In a way, the pandemic stripped people of their autonomy as the crisis pushed the world to stay at home and go digital. This is especially stressful for young professionals who already have less control of their careers as they still have a long way to go compared to their senior counterparts. The urge to seize the driver's seat of their career is already there for young adults up to the now middle-aged millennials, and it was intensified by the bit of autonomy they experienced from working from home. Now, they know what they want and need: balance, flexibility, a stable future, and autonomy. And they may be more than willing to explore and shift careers to find the best-suited job and company for them and their needs than staying in your company.

Millennials may have paved the way for better flexibility and wellbeing at work, but seeing that working from home or remotely works, Gen Z is here to make it a part of the new norm. 

They want that sense of employee autonomy; they crave the freedom to approach their jobs in a way that suits their personalities and skills. If your company can't offer them that, you may want to develop a more flexible working arrangement, create room for your people's career development, or promote employee wellbeing.


We may be connected with one another majority of the time as work has gone digital, but technology aside, the disconnect between generations remains. The stigma that millennials and Gen Z are entitled and lazy is still here. 

Although age bias usually favors younger employees over older ones, younger workers can also be on the receiving end of it. Most, if not all, are still regarded as a generation who either can't do the job due to perceived lack of experience or refuse to pursue a low-paying profession because of plain title entitlement. This occurs regardless of their education or demonstrated potential. This disconnect often results in a lack of respect for young professionals. Their credentials are questioned, their presence in important meetings is deemed unnecessary, and their thoughts and opinions are dismissed. Some companies even see hiring young professionals as a way to save a few bucks as they consider them inexperienced who can be paid less. With that kind of mistreatment or discrimination, I bet you'd also want to look for better career options.


Like I said earlier, young professionals bring fresh perspectives, new skills, and lots of creative energy to the businesses they join. They are very much aware of their capabilities, and that is why having an authentic space for self-expression is important for them. These two generations, especially Gen Z, love expressing their unique identities both on social media and in real life. These two generations, who grew up during times of uncertainty and are once perceived as unprepared for the reality of work, are eager to show the world who they are and what they have to offer.


The pandemic opened an opportunity to change how we work for the better, and the younger generations are taking a step forward to drive that change. And whether companies like it or not, the fact that we're still in the middle of the modern war for talent gives Gen Z, who's just entered the workforce, and millennial workers, who've been at it for quite some time now, still have the power to demand.