‘Total contrast’: Millennial boss reveals wild Gen Z work habits

Millennial boss Grace Garrick is young, gorgeous, and trendy, but her Generation Z staff leave her feeling old and confused.

Ms Garrick, 29, founded the creative communication agency MVMNT when she was 24. The business now boasts big Aussie clients like underwear brand Nala, activewear brand Lorna Jane and fresh food company Soul Origin

The office is located in Sydney’s eastern suburbs and inside it looks like a chic day spa with a few quirky touches from her Gen Zers staffers, like a poster of Aussie movie star Jacob Elordi.

A fair amount of time is still reserved for sitting at your desk and replying to emails and other professional things, but there’s also an endless stream of antics taking place as well.

It isn’t unusual to see Gen Z employees getting their nails done with a client or filming a TikTok to show off the fact that they’re all wearing cowboy boots.

“I came in one week and had a Jacob Elordi poster behind my desk. I had a Zoom call with Brydie, the marketing director of Soul Origin, and she was like, ‘Why on earth do you have a poster at the back of your office wall like a teenage fan girl?” Ms Garrick said.

When Ms Garrick started in the PR industry, it was the peak of hustle culture, and if you wanted to make it, there was no such thing as work-life balance or boundaries.

She said that overworking yourself was seen as a “strange” badge of honour and she loves how much Gen Z have changed the game, turning up with their baggy jeans and digital cameras. Yes, it turns out iPhone photos are out and 2000s style cameras are back in.

“My experiences with Gen Z have been eye-opening. They’ve taught me valuable lessons about setting boundaries, something Millennials, like myself, often struggle with,” she told news.com.au.

Ms Garrick, who grinded to the point of exhaustion in her early 20s, finds their approach to work “refreshing”, especially because it works.

“They understand the power of saying no and establishing boundaries. It’s a refreshing change. They advocate for working smarter, not harder, and prioritise meaningful work,” she explained.

Gen Zers are big on having fun in the workplace and are far less hung up on titles and chains of command.

Instead they demand good vibes and are keen to have a yap. They use TikTok in the same way that Millennials use Google and come with their own language.

For instance, did you know slay means good? Or ‘she’s giving’ means she is thriving.

These are all terms Ms Garrick has had to learn the hard way. Sometimes, she’ll send a semi-strict email and a staff member will just reply with the word “slay”.

Ms Garrick said Gen Z are much more “conversational” and keen to initiate open dialogue with absolutely anyone.

“It is a total contrast to the hesitancy I often felt at their age. What I might have tiptoed around, they approach head-on, fearlessly advocating for what they believe they deserve,” she said.

The fun and directness don’t hinder the work. The bulk of Ms Garrick’s staff are Gen Zers, and the business is growing. It is sometimes, however, a culture shock for her.

She’s often astounded by their obsession with star signs. She once witnessed staff member, Virginia, relating her compatibility for a client working relationship via the client’s star sign.

There are also times when she’s left a little gobsmacked by their ability to incorporate fun into corporate.

Ms Garrick said her staff actually prank their own clients, but thankfully, it builds relationships and doesn’t destroy them.

“For example telling our client he was going to be on the cover of a huge publication and then Facetuned his face to make it super skinny,” she said.

Ms Garrick, who started working when looking professional and neat was part of the job, is also amazed at how her young staff aren’t as concerned with looking sleek.

It isn’t uncommon for one to be wearing a pimple patch or someone to be rocking under-eye patches if they aren’t having a client-facing day.

They are also very big on giving themselves little breaks and even have a name for them.

“Everyone is going for what they call a “threezys”, which is their 3pm ritual office break, where they go to the local Ezymart and grab a Diet Coke or a sweet treat,” she said.

She said they often remark on her acting like a Millennial and call her behaviour “cringe”.

“I do a ‘Millennial pause’ on videos for work. Apparently, Millennials do a pause after they hit a record, which to Gen Z is cringe,” she said.

Despite the chaos Gen Z brings to working life, this recipe has led Ms Garrick’s business to success and made her work approach far more fun.

“They have taught me so much about setting boundaries, and this is something that I would never have done before, I feel that I do better work now because of it,” she said.