Here are 7 times older generations slammed Gen Z's work ethic, calling them 'weakened' kids who 'don't seem like they want to work'

Certainly! There's a growing tension between older generations and Gen Z in the professional world. Some criticize Gen Z for seeking work-life balance and flexibility, which they perceive as a lack of dedication and work ethic. Gen Z's perspective has been shaped by witnessing economic downturns and job instability, leading to disillusionment with traditional corporate life. 

This has sparked discussions on platforms like TikTok, where some express dissatisfaction with conventional nine-to-five jobs and advocate for alternative work styles. The clash of values has led to public criticism from prominent figures, highlighting the divide between generations on attitudes towards work.  

Whole Foods' former CEO John Mackey said young people 'don’t seem like they want to work.'

Whole Foods Market CEO John Mackey
Whole Foods Market former CEO John Mackey. 
Business Wire

70-year-old John Mackey served as Whole Foods's CEO for over 40 years from 1980 till 2022 and admitted in a podcast in 2022, "I don't understand the younger generation."

The executive said young people in "liberal cities" like Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco "don't seem like they want to work," citing his own difficulty in hiring youngsters in those states. 

"Younger people aren't quick to work because they want meaningful work," Mackey said. "You can't expect to start with meaningful work. You're going to have to earn it over time."

Whoopi Goldberg suggested youngsters can’t buy a house because they’re lazy

Whoopi Goldberg poses for photos in a striped shirt dress.
Whoopi Goldberg in 2023. 
Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Tribeca Festival

Actress and TV personality Whoopi Goldberg, 68 years old, came for younger generations saying they can't buy a house because they don't put in as many hours.

"Every generation comes and wants to do better than their parents did … every generation," Goldberg said in an episode of daytime talk show The View. "But I'm sorry if you only want to work four hours, it's going to be harder for you to get a house." 

NYU professor Jonathon Haidt said Gen Z are 'weakened' kids

NYU Stern School
New York University's Stern School of Business. 
NYU Stern School of Business/Facebook

New York University's Stern School of Business Professor Jonathon Haidt had some harsh words for Gen Z in an interview with the Wall Street Journal

"We have a whole generation that's doing terribly," the 60-year-old said pointing to high rates of anxiety and depression among the younger generation, saying "performative" social media culture has played a role in this. 

He said Gen Z live in "defend mode" and are "weakened" kids who enter the the workforce and are "less innovative, less inclined to take risks, and that may undermine American capitalism."

Billionaire John Catsimatidis said young people who only work three days a week are “failures”

John Catsimatidis. 
AP Photo/Kathy Willens

75-year-old billionaire John Catsimatidis vented about Gen Z in an interview with the Daily Mail.

He said he started out working 70 hours a week at a supermarket but that Gen Z is "too busy on TikTok" to work as hard as he did. 

"That's one of the problems we are having in our country these days, the kids are busy playing TikTok," he said.

"Look at people only working three days a week, and I'll show you failures," he added.

Ex-education secretary Bill Bennett is 'concerned' about Gen Z's attitude towards work

William Bennett, former education secretary and host of a conservative talk radio show, speaks at the Washington Briefing / Values Voter Summit, an evangelical Christian conference, October 20, 2007 in Washington, DC.
William Bennett, former education secretary to Ronald Reagan. 
Stephanie Kuykendal/Getty Images

Bill Bennett, Ronald Reagan's education secretary between 1985 and 1988, said he was concerned about the younger generation's attitude towards work, in an interview with Fox Business.

"We haven't talked to them about the value of work, we haven't taught them," the 80-year-old said.

"The young people's attitude toward work is kind of like their attitude toward most of what adults do these days: they're not in favor." 

NYU professor Suzy Welch said Gen Z have never had to "do very hard things."

Suzy Welch, special adviser, Brunswick Group
Suzy Welch, an NYU Stern School of Business professor. 
Brunswick Group

Another NYU professor Suzy Welch said the new "lazy-girl jobs" trends on TikTok sparked by Gen Z are an example of their "strong desire to avoid anxiety at all costs," in an episode of CNBC's Squawk Box in July.

Welch said that Gen Z's helicopter parents created "a bunch of 20-somethings who have never really had to make hard decisions or do very hard things. And when they start to feel it, they're like ow, ow, I want to run away."

Welch also told BI in a recent interview that young people who choose to work remotely and reject hustle culture will "probably" never become corporate CEOs or see the same "financial rewards" as their more hard-working peers.

Scott Galloway talked about the perils of remote work for young people

Scott Galloway, lecturer in marketing at New York University
Scott Galloway, lecturer in marketing at New York University. 
Picture Alliance/Getty Images

Scott Galloway, yet another NYU professor, aged 59, spoke at The Wall Street Journal's CEO Council Summit in May and warned young people: "The amount of time you spend at home is inversely correlated to your success professionally and romantically. You need to be out of the house." 

He added: "If you expect to be in the top 10% economically, much less the top 1%, buck up. Two decades plus, of nothing but work. That's my experience." 

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