Billionaire says Gen Z are ‘too busy on TikTok’ to work on careers

‘If you’re working 100 hours a week, and it’s not working, you’d better work 120,’ Catsimatidis says

Maroosha Muzaffar
Tuesday 16 May 2023 09:17 BST
<p>File. John Catsimatidis is a Greek-born businessman who owns Gristedes Foods </p>

File. John Catsimatidis is a Greek-born businessman who owns Gristedes Foods

John Catsimatidis, the billionaire owner of New York City grocery stores Gristedes Foods, is facing an onslaught of criticism from Gen Z for saying they are “too busy on TikTok” to work on their careers.

In an interview, Mr Catsimatidis said he used to work 70 hours a week at a supermarket and blamed Generation Z – the group of people born between the late 1990s and the early 2010s – for not doing the same.

“That’s one of the problems we are having in our country these days, the kids are busy playing TikTok,” he said.

“If you’re working 100 hours a week, and it’s not working, you’d better work 120,” he added further. “You can’t win if you’re afraid of losing.”

He told Daily Mail: “I was ready to sleep on the couch for the whole summer and watch television. My mother threw me off the couch, and I guess I’m a kid of extremes because I quickly ended up working 70 hours a week.”

“This taught me the responsibility of a little bit of perfection,” he added.

A McKinsey report in October last year details that “employed Gen Z respondents are more likely to report that the pay they receive for their work does not allow them a good quality of life and are less likely than others to report feeling fairly recognised and rewarded for their work.”

The study titled “How does Gen Z see its place in the working world? With trepidation” stated that “a remarkable 77 per cent of Gen Z respondents report looking for a new job (almost double the rate of other respondents). While some degree of job churn in early careers is expected, the economic pessimism reported by Gen Z – only 37 per cent believe that most people in this country have economic opportunities – suggests a deep malaise about their own prospects and those of other Americans.”

Several other studies have shown that Gen Z is also more interested in work-life balance and would rather quit a toxic workplace than continue there. They are also keener on “career development” rather than “career success”.

In fact, in a LinkedIn survey in 2022, 40 per cent of Gen Z workers said they were willing to accept a 5 per cent pay cut to work in a position that offered career growth opportunities.

According to a Deloitte survey of 23,220 Gen Z and millennial respondents, conducted between November 2021 and April 2022, Gen Zers who feel they are learning the skills needed to advance their careers are 2.5 times more likely to stay at their current organisation.

“Our goals just look different than the 50-hour-a-week, C-suite-trajectory of our older counterparts,” a Gen Z author wrote in Business Insider earlier this month.

“Gen Z’s greater picture is they understand there is more to their identity and life than work,” Anna Carlson, a Gen Z employee at a multimedia company, was quoted as saying. She added that she cares about her work-life balance in order to fulfill aspects of her life outside the corporate setting.

Other billionaires before Mr Catsimatidis have also criticised Gen Z for their work ethic. Last year, Whole Foods co-founder John Mackey said that younger people “don’t seem like they want to work”. And recently, Keith Rabois, a tech investor and the CEO of e-commerce company Open Door, accused some workers of doing “fake work”.

Last year, a survey by the World Economic Forum stated that about half of Gen Z workers would quit their job if it negatively impacted their work-life balance.

Roberta Katz, an anthropologist at Stanford who studies the Generation Z, told the New York Times last year that the Gen Z and previous generations view the workplace fundamentally differently. She was quoted as saying: “American Gen Zers, for the most part, have only known an internet-connected world.”

She said that younger employers view work “as something that was no longer a 9-to-5-in-the-office-or-schoolroom obligation”.

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