Survey Reveals Gen Zs Are Disengaged as Burned-Out Boomers

Survey Reveals Gen Zs as Disengaged as Burned-Out Boomers — How Employers Can Fix It

/ 09:20 AM April 06, 2023

The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed the landscape of the modern workplace. One surprising shift has been the disengagement of young workers, a group previously known for their enthusiasm and eagerness to succeed.

Workers under 35 reported feeling less engaged with their jobs in recent years, according to Gallup surveys conducted from 2019 to 2022. The percentage of engaged workers dropped from 37% in 2019 to 33% in 2022.

This figure was the lowest level observed since 2011. Additionally, the rate of young workers reporting being “actively disengaged” increased from 12% to 17%.


Why Is Employee Engagement Important in the Workplace?

Why Is Employee Engagement Important in the Workplace?
The decline in young workers’ engagement with their jobs is a cause for concern for employers and employees.

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Low engagement levels can result in higher job turnover rates and reduced profits. According to Gallup, these low levels can cost the global economy an estimated $7.8 trillion annually in lost productivity.

Additionally, Gen Zs may feel disillusioned and disconnected from their work, negatively impacting their overall well-being.

Gallup’s analysis reveals that young workers in their 20s and early 30s report a decrease in feeling cared for, having opportunities for development and growth, having a best friend at work, and feeling their opinions matter.

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These findings suggest that companies need to fix their workplaces for younger employees. At the same time, employers need to take steps to address these issues.

Work from Home

One major factor leading to the decline in Gen Zs’ engagement could be the pandemic-induced shift to remote and hybrid work.


Chief scientist for Gallup’s workplace management practice, Jim Harter, believes this has been a significant challenge for younger workers who crave social connections and mentorship from their managers and colleagues.

Unsurprisingly, only 24% of those in their 20s want to work from home full-time. Compare this figure with 41% of those in their 50s and early 60s. Gen Zs typically rely on their jobs for their social lives and need guidance from experienced colleagues and managers.

Unfortunately, remote and hybrid work has made it harder for them to receive the needed support and guidance. This gap has resulted in fewer educational and fun work experiences.

Companies must recognize the importance of social connections and mentorship for Gen Zs, even in a remote or hybrid work environment.

The Slack Effect

The Slack Effect
With the rise of digital messaging tools like Slack, opportunities to learn from colleagues have become increasingly scarce. Instead of listening to mentors discuss improvements in their work, young people are stuck with “Slacking” coworkers who sit just a few feet away.

This shift to digital communication has also had a more insidious effect. One study found that workers who were part of a hybrid work schedule in China sent more messages than their full-time office counterparts, even when they were in the office.

But as the business world adapts to this new way of working, face-to-face conversations and the benefits of learning from colleagues are still integral.

So the next time you need to chat with a coworker, why not take a quick walk over to their desk instead of sending a Slack message?

Unclear Norms and Expectations

Many new workers need help navigating a company culture’s norms and expectations in the current work environment, either in remote or hybrid settings. Team members often learn informal workplace norms through observation and interaction with colleagues.

Learning these nuances can be challenging in the current remote working environment. This uncertainty can also lead to employees spending more time figuring out how to do the work instead of doing it.

Organizations need to recognize this challenge. At the same time, they must provide clear guidance and support for new employees, whether through regular check-ins, mentorship programs, or other means.

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Post-Pandemic Stress Disorder

The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly taken a toll on the world, but the pandemic affected young people especially hard.

Forced to endure the isolation and uncertainty of lockdowns, many Gen Zers have experienced depression and anxiety, according to a recent survey.

Even before the pandemic, young people faced a mental health crisis. As such, the added pressures of COVID-19 have only exacerbated this issue.

As the world moves forward and leaves the pandemic behind, no one should ignore its long-lasting effects on Gen Z’s lives. Many individuals have had their education and career aspirations put on hold, and it will take time for them to recover from this setback.

How Can Companies Address These Issues?

How Can Companies Address These Issues?
It’s no secret that many US CEOs struggle to keep their young employees engaged and productive. Unfortunately, some have landed on this solution: requiring everyone to return to the office. What they might need to realize, however, is that this strategy is only going to backfire.

Experts have weighed in on the issue, and their research suggests that forcing Gen Zs back into the office will worsen things.

Studies show that companies that make office attendance optional have a 10% higher engagement rate among Gen Zers than those that require it.

This age group is looking for more flexibility and control over their work schedules, and forcing them back into the office takes away that autonomy. So what can be done? Here are a few tips.

Make Returning to the Office Worth It

In today’s work culture, “going into the office” has a new meaning. With remote work becoming more popular, many people have opted to stay home instead of entering a physical workspace.

However, this trend says more about the office than it does about the workers. People are more likely to come into the office when it’s a place that they enjoy spending time in.

Companies looking to improve attendance should focus on creating a positive office experience. This means rethinking the office space to create more opportunities for collaboration and socializing.

Happy hours, team-building events, and even free parking or transit passes can make the office a more inviting place to be.

Flexible work hours help people avoid the stress of rush-hour commutes, making it easier for young people to find mentorship and build connections with their colleagues.

Companies can create a happier, more productive workplace by inspiring people of all ages to work in the office because they want to.

Spell Everything Out

The rise of remote work has resulted in many challenges for companies. One of which is the difficulty in establishing workplace norms and expectations. With employees working from home, it can be challenging to discern how well they understand these nuances at work.

Fortunately, companies can resolve this issue with clear guidelines. For instance, it’s essential to clarify when it is acceptable to decline a meeting invitation or if there are any expectations regarding weekend work.

These details ensure everyone is on the same page and can work together more efficiently.

Inclusivity is another crucial factor that companies must consider when defining workplace norms. Different generations, genders, races, and cultural backgrounds have varying interpretations of what constitutes a reasonable amount of time off, for example.

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Therefore, avoiding ambiguity and clearly stating what managers expect of employees is crucial. Companies must take a more nuanced approach to defining workplace norms and avoid assumptions when there is a diverse workforce.

Have Managers that Care

Have Managers that Care
The shift to remote and hybrid work has changed how managers interact with their employees. However, connecting and providing support from a distance is still possible.

Managers who take the time to learn what motivates their employees, stay in tune with their moods and address their issues early on can make a difference.

Setting up regular one-on-one meetings instead of relying on accidental encounters in the office can help managers stay in touch with their employees and address their concerns proactively.

Ultimately, the key to improving the engagement of young employees lies in how managers manage them.

In this new world of work, providing meaningful feedback to employees once a week is crucial. This effort has far more impact than where employees sit, whether at home or in the office.

By prioritizing strong management practices, companies can create a positive work environment that encourages employee satisfaction, productivity, and overall success.

Give Employees a Say

The way we communicate and express ourselves has been transformed today. The emergence of social media has given rise to a generation of empowered individuals who are not afraid to share their opinions and speak their minds.

This newfound confidence is particularly evident among Gen Zs, often characterized by their outspoken nature.

Younger people today are more vocal and self-empowered than previous generations. Social media has provided an unprecedented platform for people to express their views on a global scale.

However, while this can be a positive development, it also challenges companies that must create opportunities for their employees to voice their opinions and provide input.

Senior executives must be willing to listen to the feedback they receive from their employees and take action in response to it.

This means creating an environment where people can speak their minds, host regular all-hands meetings, and conduct regular employee surveys.

Failure to take these steps can lead to disengagement and a lack of enthusiasm among employees, ultimately harming a company’s performance.


Companies must adapt strategies to keep up with the constantly changing modern world. However, many still cling to outdated methods, mandating in-office work during the pandemic. This approach has led to declining engagement among younger workers.

Employers need to evaluate their practices and embrace change to overcome the challenges of today. It takes courage, creativity, and a willingness to change.

Prioritizing employee engagement can help businesses create a better working environment. These efforts result in a more dynamic, engaged, and motivated workforce that can thrive in the evolution of work.

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