What Gen Z and Boomers Have in Common at Work

Their motivation to clock in and out is the same, while all generations agree that burnout is real.

November 09, 2022

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The baby boomer generation and Generation Z are more alike in the workforce than commonly believed, reports Fortune. In fact, all generations appear to be having similar experiences in today’s workplace.

Boomers and Gen Zers may be on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to certain aspects work. The older generation prefers tradition—the physical office, hard work and company loyalty—while the younger cares about work-life balance and has no problem leaving a company if that need isn’t met.

But according to a new Indeed survey, both generations said their top workplace motivator was meaningful and challenging work. Gen X is motivated by the company’s leadership, while millennials say they are motivated by a fair salary.

Fortune suggests that the youngest and oldest generation could have the same motivation to work because their financial situations are somewhat similar. Gen Zers may have less expenses than other generations, and boomers could have more of a financial safety net.

Though all generations may differ on work motivation, the majority of employees are feeling burned out. Gen Z feels it the most at 78%, while 72% of baby boomers are feeling burned out, followed by 63% of Gen Xers and 60% of millennials. Further, 90% of baby boomers have felt their motivation has dropped over the last 12 months.

All generations agree that the top reason for feeling burned out was having additional responsibilities to balance at home, but Gen X and baby boomers also said not being recognized by upper management was influencing their motivation. A micromanaging boss was a reason for feeling burned out by millennials, and Gen Z said doing things outside their job description was making them feel unmotivated.

“With Gen Z, I think we have to acknowledge that they were enduring a pandemic at a very specific point in their lives and in their careers,” workplace and career expert Lindsey Pollak told Fortune. “And that means probably more well-being support; that means often being more explicit about expectations.”

Another generation uniter in the workplace is quiet quitting. The generations agree on the definition of quiet quitting to be “taking time for oneself during the workday,” which is different than the definition circulating on TikTok. Baby boomers have seen the most quiet-quitting instances, with 93% of them saying they’ve witnessed this behavior. Additionally, the generations agree that workers shouldn’t be penalized for quiet quitting as long as they get their work done.

Because workers are feeling burned out, boundaries are a priority. Ninety-one percent of boomers are OK with stepping away from work during business hours, as long as their work gets done, followed by 87% of Gen Z, 86% of Gen X and 84% of millennials.

“Despite their differences, everyone of every generation seems to be having similar experiences at work these days, too. Motivation is a struggle and burnout is common, and they see boundaries and quiet quitting as solutions to these problems,” writes Erica Sweeney in a blog post for Indeed.

NACS has partnered with The Good Jobs Institute on how c-store operators can provide “good jobs,” which meet people’s basic needs and offer conditions for engagement and motivation. The Good Jobs Calculator, designed exclusively for NACS members and the convenience industry, allows retailers to use their own data and customized assumptions about the amount of improvement or uplift achievable, so executives can run scenarios on the bottom-line impact of a Good Jobs system.

Additionally, in the NACS Magazine article “Understanding Your Local Labor Landscape,” NACS provides tips on building an effective employee value proposition.