Bad Gen Z work habit that baby boomers can’t stand


Generation Z may have only been in the workforce for a short time, but they have already made a huge impact on the landscape.

The younger generation values work-life balance above all else and has been at the forefront of many of the different work trends seen in recent years, such as Quiet Quitting, Bare Minimum Mondays, and Lazy Girl Jobs.

While many see the rejection of hustle culture as a positive change, it appears Gen Z workers have also developed some bad habits along the way.

A survey of more than 1000 UK workers found that almost half of those aged between 16 and 26 believe that being between five and 10 minutes late is essentially the same as being on time.

The research, which comes from online meeting company Meeting Canary, revealed baby boomers held the opposite view, with a whopping 70 percent saying they have “zero tolerance” for lateness.

The report warned that, in the eyes of the eldest generation of workers, “if you arrive after the agreed time at all then you are late”.

For millennials, 40 per cent said they were forgiving of colleagues running 10 minutes late, this dropped to 26 per cent for Gen X.

Young workers are more likely than other generations to think being 10 minutes late to work is essentially the same as being on time. Picture: iStock
Young workers are more likely than other generations to think being 10 minutes late to work is essentially the same as being on time. Picture: iStock

It appears the trend is common among young Australian workers too.

Roxanne Calder, recruitment specialist and founder of Sydney company EST10 said being late to work is now the “norm” for many Gen Z workers.

“It’s true. Coming into the office at 9.10am when the workday, shift, or employment contract states a 9am start is the norm for Gen Z, and sadly, most environments depending on the demographic makeup tend to accept it,” she told

“I see this regularly, not just in an office environment, but in retail and hospitality, the owner/manager of the cafe, gym, and shops, tapping on their watch and quietly berating their staff member as they slide into work, ‘late’.”

Ms Calder revealed that one cafe owner she knew went as far as to fire a barista because they “couldn’t rely on them” to turn up on time.

She said that, while the “near-boomer” in her agreed with the principle of the decision, as a customer she felt the negative impact of the move.

“He may have been tardy regularly, but his coffee was made to perfection and the atmosphere was calmer when he was there. He coordinated all the orders with finesse, flow, and some fun,” she said.

This shows the flip side of the situation and the main difference when it comes to the different values Gen Z brings to the workplace.

The young workers often believe results are more important than things like strict timekeeping.

Recruitment expert, Roxanne Calder, has observed the relaxed approach to time management among Gen Z workers. Picture: Supplied
Recruitment expert, Roxanne Calder, has observed the relaxed approach to time management among Gen Z workers. Picture: Supplied

Ms. Calder said that, at one point, firing a staff member for something like tardiness may have been a no-brainer, but in today’s work landscape it may “not always be the right tactic”.

She said that everyone has a different relationship with time.

“Gen Z’s perception of time is shaped by their experiences and the rapid pace of technological change, leading to a more fluid concept of punctuality,” the recruitment specialist said.

“Businesses now look to a ‘workaround’, a compromise that most importantly keeps their customers and stakeholders happy.”

Ms Calder pointed out there is also another extreme that has emerged in recent years, where it can be seen as a medical condition and possibly linked to things like attention deficit disorder.

Losing track of time or being unable to accurately gauge how much time has passed is a symptom often associated with ADHD.

Problems that can arise from this symptom include under or over-estimating how much time a task will take, chronically missing deadlines or arriving late and constantly “losing track of time”.

A young woman went viral last year after claiming she was branded “entitled” for asking a “very reasonable” question about time blindness in an interview.

Sarah Trefren sparked a wild debate after she took to TikTok to tearfully claim she was “yelled at” for asking what accommodations there were for people with “time blindness” during a phone interview to apply for a trade school.

“And then the person that I was with interrupted and acted like I was asking something else and then when we were done they actually started yelling at me and saying accommodations for time blindness don’t exist and if you struggle being on time you will never be able to get a job,” Ms Trefren said in the video.

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Young woman mocked over ‘time blindness’
Video of a young woman claiming she was...

Ms Calder said that technology has also played a major role in how people work in 2024, saying because Gen Z is so connected, it can blur the lines between work and personal time.

“Tech tools help Gen Z manage multiple tasks efficiently, often leading to a just-in-time approach rather than early preparation,” she said.

However, Ms Calder said it can go the other way as well, with people feeling the need to work “after hours” because it is as simple as just jumping on a laptop from home.

She also noted that a lot of Gen Zers started in the workforce during the pandemic when being five minutes late to a virtual meeting became acceptable as, for many people, working remotely was a new thing.

However, she also pointed out that before this generation entered the workforce, they had university, school, and other commitments like sports or going to the movies that didn’t allow for flexible hours.

“The umpire isn’t waiting for the goal defense or the halfback to show up. Gen Z had years of well-established timekeeping,” Ms Calder said.

“Let’s not be afraid to see that side of it as well. I feel for the owner of the cafe. What it all comes down to is respect, mutual respect.”

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