18 Workplace Norms That Millennials and Gen Z Are Refusing to Accept

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By Jonathan Trent

American workplaces are a reflection of society, constantly evolving and greatly influenced by the younger generations. Thankfully, most people can agree that these changes are for the better; here are 18 workplace norms that millennials and Gen Z are no longer willing to tolerate.

Casual Sexism

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For too many years, workplaces were hotbeds for casual sexism, with so-called ‘locker room talk’ running rife around the coffee machine. Millennials and Gen Z are far more aware of the mental consequences that sexism has on its victims, attempting to weed out such discrimination from professional settings.

Company Loyalty

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In the past 40 to 50 years, it was much more normal for a worker to stay at a company for multiple decades, talking up the company they work for with pride. The BBC suggests that workers are now prioritizing themselves over their employer, giving their personal accolades a higher billing on their CVs.

Toxic Environments

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Once upon a time, employees may have accepted a toxic work environment, not wanting to call it out for fear of speaking out of turn. Gen Z and millennials are far more aware of their mental well-being, making them more likely to refuse to work for a company that doesn’t value its workers.

Corporate Speak

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For some reason, it’s normal to talk to colleagues, especially over email, as though they are robots, adopting a bizarre corporate tone. Phrases such as ‘kind regards’ have crept into people’s language despite how uncomfortable, substanceless, and slightly cringeworthy they sound. We’re not fans; it’s one of the negative workplace norms on our list!

Zero Acknowledgment

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Sometimes, all workers want is for someone to recognize their efforts, whether it be a thank you after they hand something in or an acknowledgment after a successful month’s work. However, receiving no form of recognition other than petty criticisms is, sadly, far too common these days.

Traditional Career Paths

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The working ladder used to be pretty simple: You’d start off at the bottom, work hard, and wait for opportunities to open up. This mentality is on its way out, according to the World Economic Forum, which believes that we’re entering an era when most people will have multiple careers.

Taking Work Home

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Known as the ‘right to disconnect,’ millennials and Gen Z are far more likely to ignore any phone calls they receive from their place of employment if they are off the clock. There is a real reluctance among the younger generations to take their work home with them, which we think is very healthy.

No Feedback

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Sometimes, receiving no constructive feedback about how you can improve your performance in the workplace is detrimental, especially if you are relatively new to the role. It can leave you wondering whether what you’re doing is right. For some reason, this is pretty common these days.

9-5 Hours

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As we progress further into the 21st century, it appears that we are edging ever closer to a working structure revolution, similar in scale to Henry Ford’s introduction of the 40-hour working week. More people than ever are only accepting jobs with flexible hours, which is becoming the norm. Thank goodness for that!

Traditional Hiring Practices

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It’s no longer enough for a company to read a prospective employee’s CV, conduct a 15-minute face-to-face interview, and judge them from there. Practical assessments that judge a person’s capabilities rather than their ability to talk themselves up are proving to be the way forward, which we think is more fair.

In-Office Work

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The pandemic ushered working from home into the mainstream as bosses and employees began to see the benefits of remote working. A study by the Pew Research Center found that around a third of Americans who can work from home choose to do so, representing another hugely positive change.

Dress Codes

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Thankfully, the importance of comfort in the workplace is finally being realized, with many bosses ditching standard office dress codes in favor of a more casual approach. This allows for individuality and creates a more relaxed atmosphere among staff, which we can all agree is beneficial to all!


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Gen Z and millennials aren’t willing to submit to a hierarchical structure, preferring everyone to be treated with equality and respect. They want their voices to be heard by accessible leaders, helping them feel as though they are making a difference. We certainly have no objections to that!

Bad Work/Life Balance

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Sacrificing time spent relaxing, being with friends and family, and undertaking leisure activities in order to take on more work is no longer viable with Gen Z and millennials. They very much take a ‘work to live’ stance, whereas the generations before were more ‘live to work.’

Paper-Based Working

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Computers and efficient work software are a part of most corporate offices, with millennial and Gen Z workers reluctant to sift through paperwork during their workday. They also have far more awareness of how wasting paper affects the environment.

Encouraging Long Hours

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Working long hours should no longer be encouraged among millennials and Gen Z, as it’s a one-way route to exhaustion and burnout. Burnout will ultimately result in lower productivity levels than for those who are well-rested, so this is for the best for all involved!

No Mental Health Support

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The younger working generations seem to be unanimous in their desire for greater mental health support in the workplace. Unfortunately, most companies are still lacking in this department, with an American Psychological Association report highlighting that only 12% of workplaces have staff on-site with mental health training. We’re making progress, though!

Fixed Roles

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Finally, modern workers are more versatile than ever. Thanks to online resources, they can learn a new skill in no time. Millennials and Gen Z will take any opportunity to expand their skills and broaden their future career horizons, whereas sadly, the boomer workforce is often stuck in their ways.