Misguided or misunderstood – the young ones in the corporate workplace have long been on the receiving end of a whole lot of bad rep. Most recently, Jeffrey Koh, the founder of a small media agency found himself at the centre of a social media mob attack after making a post on his Facebook about his resentment towards the entitled and passive attitudes of young Singaporeans.

Media Agency Boss Gets Cancelled For Shaming Intern Candidate - Managers & Gen Z Weigh In On The Matter
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He also went on to say that he “welcomes foreigners who are hungry and hardworking to work here”, which naturally only drew the ire of more netizens. Opinions were divided, with half of those who commented on his Facebook post trying to cancel him, and the other half backing him up. In light of this, here’s what senior management members and Gen Zs had to say about the matter.

“Future of work yet to be defined”

I think there is certainly a more relaxed attitude towards work compared to 10-15 years ago when my generation stepped into the workforce. I can’t speak for boomers but as a Millennial manager, I do have a sense that the future of work is yet to be defined, and certainly a topic that employers – especially the ones with a more traditional mindset of talent – will continue to struggle to grasp. 

For the more enlightened employers, the new reality is perhaps accepting that this new workforce is motivated differently and may engage with us in a more casual attitude – they are also much more savvy and can give their all if given the right motivation and environment to grow. So no, I don’t think our future is that grim ?

Thomas, 38
Chief of Staff at an SME

“He has every right to call off the interview with that exchange”

Young people these days do not see the human touch aspect between their jobs, their employers and themselves. The mindset is sadly now “how comfortably I execute my work at my pace on my time”, and it doesn’t reflect well on them because you need determination and resilience to go through tough times in order to come out tops.

Showing up in person makes a world of a difference, it proves that you respect your employer’s time and you’re serious about making an impression.

Edward, 40
CEO of a startup

“Just take it with a pinch of salt and see from both sides”

I think the Interviewer is overreacting. A more appropriate response would be “Do you mind coming in person?” and the interviewer will state reasons why he/she needs it to be f2f or another way would be “Is there a reason it needs to be virtual?” Then if the interviewee  replies with a valid excuse like having another interview before/after so might need time to travel but he/she is trying to accommodate the other person then that’s fine too.

This whole piece of WhatsApp screenshot has just been sensationalised to create hype and draw inferences from something that the interviewer has preconceived notions on. So, just take it with a pinch of salt and see from both sides.

Our future is fucked isn’t valid because the current generation has always surpassed the previous generation. Looking at where we are today, we are more connected now than ever to people around the world. Travel time has been cut short, there’s email/video to communicate to another person on the side of the world. Anyone with an iPhone can be a content creator. Anyone with a laptop and Internet can start selling things online for e-commerce. The opportunities are even more amplified in Singapore where we have a stable government, infrastructure, and a strong SGD currency. I’ve said it many times to many people. If you are born in Singapore, you’re already lucky to be ahead of 95% of the world population. Massive opportunities are here, just have to select an industry/role and keep at it with clear direction/end goal in mind.

Michael, 36
CFO of an SME

“Gen Zs prioritise their careers and financial stability in a different way”

I think it’s characteristic of gen Zs to put themselves first and oftentimes, they’re in a better position to do so than the generation before. And maybe because the ones that behave “entitled” often have something to fall back on, they’re not as desperate or earnest towards the people presenting them with opportunities. 

I mean, there’s nothing wrong with putting ourselves first and thinking that there’s always going to be a newer and better opportunity that’ll come along, but other people – like boomers – might not see it that way. 

They don’t see how this might be the way Gen Zs choose to handle their careers and future, and that most of them prioritise financial stability all the same. They just have a different way to go about it. The lack of understanding leads to conflict and disapproval from older generations, who stereotype zoomers as “thick skin”, “unreliable”, “kids whose parents still take care of them”.

But in the current context where the job market is facing somewhat of a crisis and when inflation is only worsening, it’s understandable why people would think the Gen Z attitude towards work and life is worrisome for employers and other bystanders.

Peishi, 20
Intern at an SME

“If I was the one seeking a job, I would also be the one trying to accommodate the employer, their needs and requests”

I would say I do sympathise with Jeffery to a certain extent. It’s probably a personal thing but if I was the one seeking a job, I would also be the one trying to accommodate the employer, their needs and requests, because they’re the ones hiring me. Also when you’ve confirmed something, try not to change it unless it’s an emergency. It’s basic respect for people’s time and energy.

At the same time, I feel like Jeffery was majorly overreacting to what could have been a simple question. To give a comparison, just because I ask if your food is tasty, does not mean I want a bite. He could have cost himself a perfectly good employee in the process, and for what? I also don’t agree with him saying Sarah was the reason he prefers foreigners to work for him, because I don’t think it’s fair to judge an entire bushel of apples based on a few bad ones.

“Our future is f**ked” is not a valid statement either, in my opinion. I have had the privilege to work and study with so many people in my generation who have drive and work ethics that would probably put Mark Zuckerberg to shame if given the chance. So really, it’s probably a personal problem for Mr Jeffery. Every generation does its best with the cards they are dealt, and negative stereotypes only serve to drive the wedge further between an already divided society.

Isabel, 20
Intern at an SME

“It’s important to physically meet to get a better sense of her culture fit in person”

The boss overreacted. I felt he could have asked her for a reason first or perhaps say something like it’s important to physically meet to get a better sense of her culture fit in person – and then see how she responded.

On the flip side, the intern could have handled it more tactfully and given him a reason why she changed her mind so as not to appear so inconsistent. But anyway, virtual interviews are the new norm so it is quite odd that the option isn’t offered.
So long story short, both could improve their communication skills.

Bryan, 39
CEO of an SME

The takeaway for managers and Gen Zs alike

And while a lot has been done to bridge the divide that exists between “boomers” and “zoomers”, it’s obvious from the divided opinions on the matter that there are two sides to a every coin. Perhaps for the traditionalists, there are unspoken expectations of professionalism to be upheld, no matter the generation, and showing up for a physical interview proves that you are serious and grateful for the opportunity. 

Older generations would also argue that you’re in a better position to market yourself for the position as some nuances may be lost over virtual interviews.

But with changing times, it’s important to also embrace new norms and extend courtesy and respect both ways. In the case of Jeffrey and Sarah, both parties have some fault in the matter. For Sarah, it was not being transparent about her reason for wanting to shift the interview to a virtual one. For Jeffrey, it was being too quick to assume that Sarah was just being flaky and then shaming her for it.

Our takeaway from the saga is this: as an employer, you’ll encounter all sorts of employees in your line of work – outstanding ones, mediocre ones, and even horrible ones. It’s not fair to write an entire generation off because they are wired a different way. 

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to management, which is why being empathetic and flexible is key to adapting to the changing tides in a workplace.


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