You may or may not have seen the deleted clip of Steven Bartlett – who is no friend of this blog – talking about his perception of Gen Z employees and why he thinks they are, to quote “the least resilient generation that [he’s] ever seen.”
All I’ll say is having once worked in the same office as Bartlett’s old business in Manchester, I’m not surprised. What I am, is disappointed.
Because if there’s one thing I’ve found incredibly uplifting and encouraging over the last few years, it’s seeing fellow young professionals taking their careers back into their own hands, and realising that being overworked and underpaid simply isn’t worth your health. I can’t sit there quietly and watch someone try and talk that all away again and call empowerment laziness.
You can make up your own mind about how you feel about that interview (that’s since been conveniently removed but don’t worry – it’s saved). What I wanted to talk about was why actually, I think Gen Z are one of the most resilient and inspiring generations of our time – and their attitudes deserve to be celebrated.
3 Reasons Gen Z Are Brave And Brilliant
Work Shouldn’t Be Miserable, And We Understand That
Steven starts his argument to back up his ‘fear’ that Gen Z are the least resilient amongst us, by saying he watched a TikTok video of a worker head into her Silicon Valley office, eat a free muffin (heaven forbid), work, then doing a pottery making class before doing more work before finishing up her day with a work social.
As someone who cannot make it through a Dragon’s Den episode without mentioning his super social media saviness, I’d have thought Steven of all people would have understood that we only show the very best of ourselves online. Not to mention, in reference to the ’30 seconds of work’ comment, I think almost everyone knows that on no social media platform can you share a video of a full 8-hour working day. Not least TikTok, which is built on small bite-sized content.
To put it simply, this was frankly a tragic argument to open with. The long and short of it is it’s very unlikely every day will be like that at Facebook, and even if it is, more bloody power to them.
So that’s my (first) rant over, but what I also took from this, is that actually – an attitude is forming amongst Gen Z that work is supposed to be fulfilling and fun. That’s a good thing. Nobody does their best at anything when their heart’s not in it. I’m not sure why, in 2022, there is still a mindset of ‘I suffered, so you should too’. Shouldn’t we want our future generations to enjoy going to work, to love what they do and to do it well? I’d have thought a younger entrepreneur like Steven Barlett would have understood this, but regrettably, it seems his businesses have been built on those archaic structures that only serve those at the very very top.
We Don’t Need To Weather A Storm To Be Successful
Another point made was that the younger generation would be unable to weather the same storms that those older than us did without quitting, or at the very least making a long LinkedIn post (hilariously ironic). Not only is this 1. incredibly untrue – many of Gen Z either studied or began their career during a global pandemic, the largest crisis the world has ever faced in modern peacetime, but it’s 2. stupid – suffering shouldn’t be worn as a badge of honour. Just because our parents and grandparents may have endured unfair working conditions, should we?
Understanding your worth and refusing to settle for less doesn’t make you less able, and not tolerating shitty situations certainly doesn’t make you any less brave.
I hate this whole argument because actually, there’s a great deal of courage in walking away from a situation that no longer serves you. It’s not easy to prioritise your own mental health over all else, so when we do, we should be praised for it. Not torn down.
Recognising Red Flags Is No Mean Feat
Finally, I would have hated for this video to unravel the work done by the industry over the past few years on identifying red flags and the importance of avoiding them. Bartlett described how he feels compelled to let his new members of staff know to expect a high-intensity culture (instant ick) where they will likely be expected to work on Saturdays.
Let’s not start normalising this again.
I think it’s an incredibly resilient and valiant thing to be able to see the signs of toxicity and get yourself out of that situation before your own mental health inevitably suffers. No good can ever come out of an environment that expects all of your attention with little remuneration. I’m glad to see Gen Z have started to fight this, and I would hate to see a reverse in this mindset.
Things To Think About Instead
I think that the younger generation doesn’t need to be worried that their attitude to work isn’t correct. I think those at the top are panicking that they are going to have to actually pay their employees what they’re worth and quit with the bullying workplace cultures they’ve grown very pathetically accustomed to. Everyone knows how most of the rich get rich after all.
I’ve unapologetically written this whole blog with a purposefully plucky attitude. Because I’m annoyed about the whole situation. As someone who’s lived through the hell of an incredibly demanding and toxic workplace, I know the gravity of the situation and the burning need to do better. I’ve seen for myself how far our own industry has come even in the last 5 years or so, I’d hate to see it all vetoed now. So, I’ll continue to fight our corner and say that identifying and acting on red flags is absolutely the right thing to do and most importantly, it’s OKAY to put yourself before your job.
Oh, and I’ll add a ‘high-intensity culture’ to the long list of things to forever avoid 😉