The language of "when I was your age..." is not heard and straight up rejected by Gen Z and I think by all of us if I am honest. I used to roll my eyes at my grandmother when she started with that.
The "problem" with Gen Z & Millennials is that nobody has taught them balance.
They grew up learning self-care & love but haven't been taught to care for and love others.
They were taught "don't burn yourself out" so they think the solution is doing the minimum and making no effort. They opt-out at the first sign of difficulties or inconvenience.
They were taught "don't let anybody force you or push you to do anything you don't want" and now they have no idea how much more they are capable of doing.
And while these messages have validity they lack consequential thinking.
We have not taught these guys balance, we taught them one narrative. The same way as we were taught. Our narrative was to put our heads down and work. We set no boundaries, we did not love or care for ourselves and our lives were all about others. We were forced to do it and we did not like it.
So the narrative we passed down to the next generation was to do the opposite. You have no idea how many times I heard from my grandma and mother "If I could do it again I would never have kids." Is this the reason I don't have kids? I don't know.
We messed this one up. We didn't teach the next generation balance, we taught them to go the other extreme.
We now collectively have to find balance by teaching and encouraging younger generations to push themselves because they could do much more! They don't even understand how much more they can do because the narrative of "I need to take care of myself" is so loud in their head and they translate it to "doing the bare minimum and taking it easy".
Instead of, "this generation just doesn't want to work", we can have conversations around working hard, putting effort into relationships, business adventures etc. while monitoring themselves and learning when to slow down to avoid burnout.
Teaching them how to set healthy boundaries at work and in relationships so their narrative is not about "please don't push me because now you are impacting my mental health" but is about "let's see how far I can go with anything I do without breaking down."
We should teach them - and ourselves because we are bad at that too - to build healthy relationships instead of opting out of them because let's be honest here; a single life is not a way of life. It suits a very few but not half the population for sure.
We should all learn to monitor ourselves and others so we don't get to the point of mental & physical health problems.
We must learn to push forward responsibly and not stop pushing.
There is no result without hard work in life and we can never discover our potentials, abilities, and limits without pushing them and trying. Why don't we push this narrative to the younger generations?
Why don't we, managers and leaders, sit down with them, set ambitious goals and agree to try to achieve them while TOGETHER we monitor their progress and well-being and step in at the right time?
It is easy to say "don't sacrifice your health for work" once someone is burned out. It is also easy to say "young people are weak and lazy" instead of making the effort to understand them and learn to speak the language that would get through to them.
That's hard, but as I said before, there is nothing that worth doing is easy.