What’s Proper Work Ear-ttire? Generations Disagree.

A new survey of 500 ZipRecruiter job seekers found that Millennials* consider headphones an office staple, with more than half of Millennials wearing headphones on the job at least some of the time. But tuning out may be causing tension in the workplace. 

Our survey found that many older workers disapprove of Millennials’ headphone habits. While more than 60% of Millennials said it was appropriate to wear headphones in the kitchen and other common areas (and 15% of them are doing so), more than 60% of Boomers* said it was inappropriate to wear headphones in shared spaces at work. 

With millennials more than twice as likely as Generation Xers* and Boomers to wear headphones in the office most of the time, disagreements on etiquette can easily come to a head. One way to bridge the divide is by setting up headphone-free lunches, which give workers an opportunity to connect with their coworkers.

* Millennials are people born between 1981 and 1996. Generation Xers are people born between 1965 and 1980. Boomers are people born between 1946 and 1964.

Written by

Julia Pollak is Chief Economist at ZipRecruiter. She leads ZipRecruiter's economic research team, which provides insights and analysis on current labor market trends and the future of work.

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