Are Gen Z Employees More Likely to Bend the Rules?

Generation Z, often referred to as Gen Z, comprises individuals born roughly between the mid-1990s and early 2010s. As this cohort enters the workforce in significant numbers, their unique perspectives and behaviours are drawing both interest and concern from employers.

One hot topic is whether Gen Z employees are more likely to bend the rules or engage in workplace misconduct compared to previous generations. This blog delves into this issue, examining the factors influencing Gen Z’s workplace behaviour and how organizations can effectively manage and integrate this new generation of workers.

Understanding Gen Z’s Workplace Behaviour

Tech-Savvy and Adaptive

Gen Z is the first generation to grow up with the internet and digital technology from a young age. This tech-savviness makes them highly adaptable and efficient in navigating new tools and platforms. However, their comfort with technology can sometimes lead to a more casual attitude towards digital security protocols and company policies.

Values and Work Ethic

Gen Z values authenticity, transparency, and social responsibility. They are driven by a desire to work for companies that align with their personal values and ethics. This generation tends to prioritize meaningful work and work-life balance over traditional markers of success like job titles and salaries.

Risk-Taking and Rule-Bending

Gen Z’s entrepreneurial spirit often translates to a willingness to take risks and challenge the status quo. While this can lead to innovation and creativity, it can also manifest as rule-bending or misconduct if company policies are perceived as outdated or overly restrictive.

The Reality of Workplace Misconduct

Statistics and Trends

According to a report by the Ethics & Compliance Initiative (ECI), younger employees are generally more likely to observe and report misconduct in the workplace. However, they are also more likely to engage in behaviours that could be considered misconduct, such as misusing company resources or bypassing established procedures for the sake of efficiency.

Factors Contributing to Misconduct

Several factors contribute to the likelihood of Gen Z employees bending the rules:

  • Digital Natives: Their proficiency with technology can sometimes blur the lines between appropriate and inappropriate use of digital resources.


  • Ambition and Impatience: Gen Z’s desire for rapid progression and recognition can lead to cutting corners or bypassing protocols.


  • Value-Driven Decisions: When company policies conflict with personal values, Gen Z employees might prioritize their own ethical standards over organizational rules.

Managing Gen Z in the Workplace

Establishing Clear Policies

Organizations need to ensure that policies are not only clear, but also relevant and aligned with the values of Gen Z. Regular updates to policies can help address the evolving nature of work and technology.

Promoting an Ethical Culture

Creating a culture of ethics and transparency is crucial. Companies should encourage open communication and provide platforms for employees to voice concerns and suggestions. Highlighting the importance of integrity and the consequences of misconduct can reinforce ethical behaviour.

Providing Training and Development

Ongoing training programs can help Gen Z employees understand the importance of compliance and the impact of their actions on the organization. Training should be engaging and incorporate real-life scenarios to make the learning process relevant and impactful.

Leveraging Technology

Using technology to monitor and enforce compliance can be effective. For example, implementing software that tracks the use of company resources or provides reminders of company policies can help mitigate rule-bending behaviour.

Legal Protections and Resources in Australia

In Australia, workplace misconduct is taken seriously, and there are legal frameworks in place to protect both employees and employers. The Fair Work Ombudsman provides guidelines on what constitutes workplace misconduct and the steps that can be taken if an employee engages in such behaviour. Additionally, Safe Work Australia offers resources and support for maintaining ethical and safe work environments.

For more information, visit Fair Work Ombudsman and Safe Work Australia.

FAQ Section

  1. What is considered workplace misconduct? Workplace misconduct includes any behaviour that violates company policies or legal regulations. Examples include theft, fraud, harassment, misuse of company resources, and violating safety protocols.
  2. Are Gen Z employees more likely to engage in workplace misconduct? While some studies suggest that younger employees, including Gen Z, are more likely to report misconduct, they may also engage in rule-bending behaviours due to their tech-savviness and desire for rapid progression.
  3. How can employers prevent workplace misconduct among Gen Z employees? Employers can prevent misconduct by establishing clear, relevant policies, promoting an ethical work culture, providing ongoing training, and leveraging technology to monitor compliance.
  4. What should I do if I observe misconduct in the workplace? If you observe misconduct, it is important to report it according to your company’s procedures. In Australia, you can also seek guidance from the Fair Work Ombudsman.
  5. How can organizations align their policies with the values of Gen Z? Organizations can align their policies with Gen Z’s values by promoting transparency, social responsibility, and meaningful work. Regularly updating policies to reflect the evolving work environment and incorporating employee feedback can also help.


Gen Z employees bring a unique set of strengths and challenges to the workplace. Their tech-savviness, entrepreneurial spirit, and value-driven approach can lead to both innovation and instances of rule-bending.

To effectively manage and integrate Gen Z into the workforce, organizations must establish clear policies, promote an ethical culture, provide relevant training, and utilize technology to enforce compliance.

By understanding and addressing the factors that influence Gen Z’s behaviour, employers can harness their potential while mitigating risks of workplace misconduct.

For a confidential conversation about any workplace bullying, contact or visit the links below.

Ballarat Workplace Investigations

Workplace Investigations Shepparton