What are Gen Z’s workplace ‘roadblocks?’

Generation Z is struggling in the workplace, according to the results of a recent survey by conservative job board RedBalloon and online marketplace PublicSquare. Of the 839 small business owners who responded, 68% said Gen Z employees have reliability issues, and 62% said those workers bring divisiveness and toxicity to the workplace.

Ninety-one percent of respondents said colleges are creating unrealistic job expectations for students, and only 4% chose Gen Z as the generation most aligned with their culture. 

Managers expressing problems with Gen Z is nothing new; in a January survey by ResumeBuilder.com, 31% of the 782 people surveyed said they avoid hiring Gen Z, while 30% said they’ve had to fire a Gen Z hire within a month of their first day. 

“Gen Z is earning a failing grade in America’s workplaces,” said RedBalloon CEO Andrew Crapuchettes said in a statement. “With baby boomers retiring in record numbers, America needs Gen Z to step up. But Gen Z is struggling big-time to engage with the workplace in a meaningful way.” 

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York reports unemployment for recent graduates has been trending higher than overall unemployment.

“There are a lot of job opportunities. They’re not all good opportunities. Of the subset that are good opportunities, high-quality jobs, a lot of those employers are looking for people with experience,” Lisa Countryman-Quiroz, CEO of JVS, a nonprofit that provides career training programs for underemployed and unemployed workers, told HR Dive. “It seems that employers are really prioritizing previous experience, because they can get it.” 

In the Bay area, where JVS is located, the spate of layoffs in the tech sector have put a lot of talent on the job hunt, which “becomes a huge roadblock for recent grads,” Countryman-Quiroz said. 

Companies also are disinvesting in training, which, when employed, can help new talent develop and help companies fill skills gaps in their workforce, she said. And a shift to more flexible and remote work can stymie some skills development, Countryman-Quiroz said. 

“What has always been true in terms of lack of resources around soft skills training has been exacerbated by remote communication styles. I think having a majority of communication happening on Slack or other platforms like that can create a lot of communication challenges and interpersonal challenges,” she said. 

Sorbriqué Grant, president and CEO of Climb Hire, an upskilling organization for low-income and working adults, said her organization focuses on teaching job searchers to use their social capital and networks.

“How do you use relationships and use the network that you have or the network that you’ll get in an internship or your first job opportunity to really further your career and maintain those relationships so that you can expand your network?” Grant said.

Another hurdle newcomers face is when companies post entry-level job listings but require several years experience in the field, Grant said. 

“It’s like the bar is so high for what is expected of them, and there’s not a lot of coaching and training and development,” Grant said.