It’s official. Generation Z is now in offices, in corporate jobs and sitting next to you slumped in front a computer. What’s different about them is that they aren’t really going to slip into making snarky jokes about their burnout and indulge in resigned sighs. Burnout in the 20s is real. According to billionaire and the knower-of-things, Kim Kardashian, nobody wants to work these days. But Gen Z, understandably, is not interested in working in jobs where they are underpaid, underappreciated, and overworked. Cause when Olivia Rodrigo asked, “Who am I if not exploited?” it clearly meant for Gen Z working in the corporate world.
This is a generation that has witnessed the transition of palates from egg and toast to thinly cut avocados and toast. Somewhere along the way, they also saw millennials taking pride in ungodly work hours and multiple side hustles. Don’t get Gen Z wrong, hustle culture began with good intentions but quickly turned poisonous due to the rat race that surrounded it.
The majority of LinkedIn is a virtual dystopian world populated by dudebros who take pleasure in working tirelessly for faceless giants. A sea of static updates with robotic opinions make it perhaps the stiffest social media platform. Some of these posts come off as downright unhinged, possibly even fan fiction. A few months ago, the app made news for all the wrong reasons when the CEO of what appeared to be a cool startup made comments in support of their position on unreasonable work hours.
The statement drew outraged replies from the internet, but stories like this are all too prevalent in today’s workplace. It is too often that employees are asked to put in long hours at the office while giving little value to their personal lives. The idea that there will always be time for pleasure later in life does not apply to a generation that has lived through a pandemic and one that doesn’t believe a climate catastrophe is too far into the future. The axiom “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” doesn’t apply in this case because the system is irreversibly broken, and this generation doesn’t want the leftovers from the master’s table; instead, it wants the entire table to itself, and rightly so -the table will be underwater in 20 years.
According to famous Gen Z YouTuber Nick Green; LinkedIn people take something super mundane that should be a norm but because they are in that capitalist mindset they feel the need to talk about it in a way that feels like they are superheroes”.
The corporate hierarchy in India is Dickensian—its age-old philosophy of the man upstairs taking all the credit while the working diaspora goes unnoticed—a mindset that the older generations have seemingly succumbed to. However, Gen Z’s counter-attack appears to be a be your own boss attitude with the bloom of homegrown small businesses, while also working a 9-5 to support such endeavours.
Too many corporate millenials think that Gen Z does not dream of labor- a clear definition of work-life balance translates to unmotivated and lazy. But really, has any one ever dreamt of labour? Gen Z has no problem putting in the hours, it’s just that we don’t see this as the be all and end all of our existence. We want a life beyond work, where we see family and friends. That’s not lazy, that’s important and we want millennials (the ones who once dreamed the same dream) to know that while they weren’t able to voice it, we will and we are.