Viewpoint: Gen Z workers, it's time to 'knuckle down'

"The labor market sounds a lot like the Woody Allen joke," Bloomberg columnist and economist Allison Schrager, PhD, wrote in a Jan. 25 opinion piece. "The food is terrible and there is so little of it."

Dr. Schrager recently attended the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where she reported many conversations about the youngest generation of workers, including trends of quiet quitting and perceived rudeness during the interview process. Employers said they feel they have to put up with these undesirable habits because the talent market is scarce and demand for labor is high. 

But Generation Z should not expect to wield that power long, Dr. Schrager wrote.The tides are bound to shift, and when they do, young people might realize "it's not good to have your boss hate you," as her headline advises. 

Dr. Schrager pointed to the history of technological changes shifting the workforce. During the industrial revolution, people had to leave their homes and farms to commute to factories — which was cause for complaint even then. But their discontent fizzled out eventually. The same could happen in the post-pandemic era as people get used to working in the office again. 

The labor market is already showing signs of a shift, according to Dr. Schrager, as central banks increase interest rates and firms that overhired conduct layoffs. 

"If the labor market turns, workers' market power will evaporate and people of all ages will need to get their act together, come to the office, be respectful during the hiring process and do more than the bare minimum when at work," Dr. Schrager wrote. "Younger workers should be mindful that they are often the first to be let go since they have fewer skills and less experience — all the more so if they are rarely in the office and their bosses don’t know them that well."

"So heed me, Gen Z: Now is not the time to ghost that job interview," she continued. "Careers are long and so are institutional memories."

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