The internet is ablaze with debate over whether Gen X managers are struggling to handle Gen Z employees or if the younger generation is simply unfit for the demands of the workforce. This hot topic was ignited by a TikTok video from millennial boss Rachel Lynch, who recounted a troubling incident at a sandwich shop involving a Gen Z worker and her older boss.

Lynch described how she placed an order with a young waitress who, 15 minutes later, confessed she had forgotten the orders. The boss’s response was to start yelling at the Gen Zer, which led the teenager to cry and panic. Lynch’s takeaway was that neither party was necessarily wrong but that older managers need to adjust their approach when dealing with younger employees.

The Australian millennial emphasized that Gen X managers tend to be “vocal in their outrage,” a style of confrontation that Gen Z does not handle well. “You need to learn to work with younger people, especially different generations,” Lynch stated. “Gen Z is more soft, more fragile; they want to work more collaboratively. You can’t just f–king yell at them. That doesn’t help them.”

Unsurprisingly, the video sparked a range of reactions, with many commenters unsympathetic to the young worker’s plight.

@thirtynotthriving Battle of gens at work #generations #genz #boomer #millennial #sandwich ♬ original sound – thirty&notthriving 🫠

One commenter, an elder millennial manager, didn’t mince words: “I am an elder millennial manager with a lot of Gen Z staff — they are an awful entitled generation with no work ethic or common sense — they need yelling at sometimes. Fight me.” Another added, “Gen Z have a sense of unwarranted entitlement and get pissed when people call them out.”

Others felt the employer was at fault for not providing adequate training or tools, such as a notepad for taking orders. They argued that workplace anxiety and mistakes are part of growing up and gaining experience. “I remember being young and lacking resilience too and crying at work over silly things — I think it just takes time to build confidence! Not necessarily a gen thing,” one commenter wrote.

Another user pointed out that emotional reactions to workplace stress are nothing new, noting, “This isn’t new. People have always cried after getting yelled at; we just didn’t have the social media to let everyone know.”

Some took a more straightforward stance, suggesting that the issue had nothing to do with generational differences. “That’s got nothing to do with boomers, Gen X, and Z. That’s just an employee not cutting it,” remarked one pragmatic commenter.

This debate highlights broader societal tensions as different generations navigate the evolving workplace landscape. It underscores the need for better communication and understanding across generational lines. While Gen X managers might see toughness as a virtue, Gen Z employees often value collaboration and support.

Finding a balance is crucial for creating a harmonious and productive work environment. Whether it’s about adapting management styles to be more supportive or recognizing the importance of building resilience among young workers, both sides have valid points. Ultimately, the goal should be to foster an environment where all employees can thrive and contribute effectively, regardless of their generational background.