Employers avoid hiring 'entitled' Gen Zs: report

Survey shows employers have bad impression of latest entrants to workforce

Employers avoid hiring 'entitled' Gen Zs: report

Employers in the United States have confessed that they prefer hiring older employees over Gen Z, citing their interview and workplace behaviours.

A December 2023 survey from Intelligent.com revealed that 38% of 800 US managers, directors, and executives avoid hiring recent college graduates in favour of older employees.

In fact, 46% of them said they are willing to hire an overqualified older employee just so they could avoid working with someone younger.

According to the survey, 60% said they are offering more benefits to attract older workers to avoid working with recent college graduates. Other measures they use include:

  • Paying higher salaries to attract older workers (59%)
  • Letting older workers work remotely or in hybrid (48%)

Why avoid recent grads

Gen Zs are the latest entrants to the workforce and have been previously described as the digital-savvy generation.

Market research firm McCrindle previously forecasted that this generation of employees are expected to make up 27% of the workforce by 2025.

However, these newcomers in the workforce seem like they're not making a very good first impression to employers.

For one in five employers, recent college graduates appear to be unprepared when it comes to job interviews, according to the Intelligent.com survey.

Half of the respondents also said they had a recent college grad asking for an unreasonable compensation for the role. Others pointed out the following offences by Gen Zs at the hiring stage:

  • Struggled with eye contact (53%)
  • Dressed inappropriately (47%)
  • Used inappropriate language (27%)
  • Refused to turn on camera during a virtual interview (21%)
  • Brought a parent to an interview (19%)

Workplace behaviours of Gen Z

Those who did end up hiring a recent grad also revealed negative experiences while working with them, with 63% of employers saying they can't handle their workload. Others pointed out the following issues with Gen Z staff:

  • Frequently late to work (61%)
  • Often miss deadlines and assignments (59%)
  • Don't dress professionally (57%)
  • Frequently late to meetings (53%)
  • Deliver poor quality work (53%)
  • Use inappropriate language (51%)
  • Difficult to manage (50%)
  • Don't get along with co-workers (41%)

More than six in 10 of employers (63%) also called out recent college grads for being entitled. More than half also said these employees get offended too easily (58%) and are overall unprepared for the workforce (58%). Employers also said recent college grads:

  • Lack professionalism (57%)
  • Don't respond well to feedback (55%)
  • Lack work ethic (52%)
  • Have poor communication skills (52%)
  • Cost more to train (51%)
  • Lack motivation (50%)
  • Lack technological skills (32%)

As a result of these behaviours, 47% of the respondents admitted that they've fired a recent college graduate.

Pandemic impact on college grads

Diane Gayeski, professor of strategic communications at Ithaca College, said employers need to recognize the impact of the pandemic to recent college graduates, especially on how they behave.

"Employers need to recognize that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, young people graduating from college had more than two years of disruption in their education as well as their social and professional development," Gayeski said in a statement.

"Current seniors were in their freshman year at the height of COVID. They likely took classes online and were unable to participate in clubs, internships, or summer jobs."

A previous report from Kahoot! even revealed that 90% of Gen Z employees face social discomfort or anxiety while at work. This includes feeling nervous on delivering presentations (44%) and voicing their opinions during a meeting (38%).

Correcting the disconnect with Gen Z

According to the Gen Zs in the Kahoot! survey, employers could prioritise soft skills advancement in the workplace in the training they offer.

"Employers need to place soft skills advancement at the top of their priorities list while also experimenting with innovative, quick, and real approaches to communication and training which are mindful of their social discomfort," said James Micklethwait, VP of Kahoot! At Work, in a previous statement.

Meanwhile, Gayeski advised recent college grads to be more informed about their potential employers when applying for them.

On asking for salary, the professor suggested looking for a posted salary range in the job ad or researching the salary ranges for the specific role.

They should also "get a sense" of the formality of the organization to avoid feeling uneasy during hiring.

"Take advantage of mock interviews or other job preparation workshops that your college might offer. The more comfortable you are with the process, the more you’ll be able to be fluent, make eye contact, and bring forth your personality," Gayeski said.

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