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GenZ perspective on the 9–5

Georgia Pilgrim Featured Image Author: Georgia Pilgrim
Posted on: April 4, 2023

There is a common theme amongst generations where the older generations view the younger as ‘lazy’ or ‘unwilling to work’. Undoubtedly, millennials, GenX, and boomers alike have labelled GenZ (those born in the late 90s to 2010s) in this way, but let’s take a moment to reflect on this view.

GenZ, the generation I was born into, view work and the 9–5 in an unromanticised way. The emphasis is on enjoying the non-working life, even if your work may be exciting and rewarding. Maybe it was Covid-19 taking away some of our ‘prime years’, or the ever-encroaching corporate machine that has shifted my generation to this perspective. Spend any time on social media and it becomes clear that GenZ wish to fulfil an ever-ending bucket list, have an extensive assortment of hobbies, and thoroughly enjoy their social lives. Agreed, this is no new concept; what is new, however, is the proactive approach GenZ are taking to ensure they have control over the way their lives are lived.

The 9-5 offers stable hours, routine and consistency that is unfounded in other types of work. With the surge of remote working, it also now offers some flexibility. Trending online is a growing community of GenZ promoting the 9–5, describing in detail the many benefits of having structure; as a set structure in the day allows the evenings to be free. Flowing from this perspective is also a newfound sense of self-value. The notion that the individual employee matters, is valuable and should be adequately compensated for their contributions and qualifications. The phrase ‘quiet quitting’ has been bouncing around recently, gaining favourable, and unfavourable, interpretations. To me, quiet quitting encapsulates this new attitude towards work; GenZ will no longer permit being overloaded with work that falls outside of the job scope. The intention is to set healthy boundaries, so that when 5pm comes around, work is done. Importantly, I think it is worth noting that my interpretation is not to say that GenZ won’t work, or that they won’t work hard. Going above and beyond is a personal choice and those who simply choose to work at the level they are employed at (and receive the income for) should not be penalised. Quiet quitting to me is simply gaining the confidence to say no to taking on responsibilities that are not ours, say no to being overworked and say no to uncompensated tasks.

The development of such perspectives on the 9–5 potentially come from the cautionary tale that the millennial workforce (and those before them) experience. The millennial mindset towards the 9–5 appears to be that work comes first – going above and beyond is necessary. Commendable by older generations, but to GenZ, this type of overarching dedication has led to state of employment now where companies are not hiring adequate numbers of staff, as well as mangers delegating too much work to the individual – which happens to be the recipe for burnout.

There is a line for an appropriate workload. Within a project-work driven industry like Medical Communications, this line can be thin. Sometimes, it just is the case that there are many things that need doing to meet deadlines, but when a company respects the nature of such work, the ever-sought-after work-life balance can be achievable. I think everyone could take a leaf out of GenZ’s book, put in those healthy boundaries, and focus on things that bring you joy. Optimise the 9–5, to ensure a gratifying 5–9.