gen z

Over the past year, Gen Z workers have made headlines for partaking in Bare Minimum Mondays, being quiet quitters, and taking advantage of remote work. So, it’s not hard to assume they’d also be the generation that takes the most PTO, but that’s not the case. Only 58 percent of Gen Zers planned to take a vacation this summer, lower than the national U.S. average of 62 percent, according to the latest edition of LinkedIn’s Workforce Confidence Index.

Could this generation’s tendency to quit quietly lead to a more manageable work-life balance? Have they mastered setting work-life boundaries to the extent that they simply don’t feel burnt out and need more extended vacations? The reality is that there are countless contributing factors: for starters, guilt. The report showed that Gen Z feels the most guilty for not working while on vacation and the most likely not to take vacation due to the state of the economy.

Meanwhile, many feel pressure to get rid of the reputation that they’re disengaged and feel they have to prove themselves otherwise. Shayla Colon, a Gen Z reporter at asset management publication Fundfire, said she’s only used vacation time once this year for a trip she planned last year. She said, “I often feel guilty about taking PTO. My vacation this year ended up only being five days because I wanted to get back to work, and I was anxious about leaving.”

However, there’s more to it than guilt. Gen Z workers are taking advantage of flexible and remote work, which sometimes allows people to run more errands during the day or log off at 5 p.m. to get started on their post-workday plans early. They’re not overdoing it at work, which causes significant stress or fatigue. That’s not to say they’re not working, but they have a different approach to prior generations, who are more likely to take on too much, work overtime, and need a vacation. The last time Samantha took PTO was in April. She’s an editor for a publication in upstate New York.

She said, “I feel like there’s this laissez-faire way of working in the summer, where as long as you get your work done, you can go enjoy some Vitamin D. I don’t like taking PTO in the summer because I know that I am enjoying my work-life balance. I’d rather do it when it’s colder or when things are busier. You almost feel like you have PTO during the week.”

Samantha continued, “If you’ve mastered how to give yourself a break, or wake up earlier and end by 3 p.m. or 4 p.m., or do work at night if you’re not feeling productive during the day, you are able to create your own schedule, especially being remote. I’ve found that giving myself time to read or catch up on a show is a part of my day to relax while I’m still working. I don’t need random PTO days because I’m taking care of myself during the week.”

There’s still pushback on that Gen Z mentality in the workplace, although they don’t let it impact them. “Older generations are more inclined to follow the hours more clearly,” said Cassidy Speller, a curriculum designer for an education company. “Younger generations say, ‘yes, I know this is a 9 to 5 job, but if I can do my job from 10 to 6, or 7 to 3, and get out early and drive to the beach, then I’m going to do that.’ It’s getting done, but not in the exact way they want.”

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