Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, Gen Z – We’ve all heard the generalizations of the blurry-lined categories of what defines a generation and they want. Not every millennial remembers life before cell phones and plenty of baby boomers are just as tech savvy as someone born to swipe. But there are patterns that are created by the state of technology, pop culture, politics, economics, society and so on. Generations build off of each other and overlap, while also changing the ways we interact, the norms we follow, and what we value along with it.
Why Is This Important? Blueprints For The Future Of Work
We need to think about what the future of work looks like, and that requires understanding the future workforce. As the majority of people entering the job market now, Gen Zers bring their own expectations and style that is different from the Millennials and Gen Xers managing them. For companies, this means culture & mission, benefits packages, and management structures are going to be deal-breakers for young job seekers. For managers, communication and management style, advancement trajectories, and team dynamics will dictate what motivates and nurtures these new team members so they stick around.
Contract work, gigs, working remotely, and a very comfortable willingness to move on quickly from a job, make rigid work environments less and less attractive.
The one-job-for-life experience was short-lived between the 1950s and 90s. Young jobbers are ready to continuously seek out new opportunities with more ease than ever before. With the gig economy, they can supplement and patchwork their way through rent if need be. Employers need to know how to attract and keep great entry-level talent and need to be prepared to adjust accordingly. Not to mention, businesses could always use the perspective of the upcoming consumer audience.
So what does the newly arriving workforce want? Here are 3 distinct trends we think are most important to consider:
1. Mentorship & Growth
Right after healthcare, mentorship is reported to be a high value for Gen Zers. This means having a close manager or senior employee to guide, not micromanage, as well as a growth structure with clear career goals. As TLNT reports according to an Adecco study, as opposed to millennials, “Gen Z, however, wants an employer focused on providing them with career growth, work that is fulfilling, and stability in the workplace. ‘Friendly’ cultures, flexibility of schedule and salary are way down on their list of priorities.”
2. Empowerment & Diversity
According to a NACE 2017 study, empowering work culture was twice as important as salary, contrasting significantly with Millennials. As mentioned above, millennials report a friendly and fun work environment as one of the highest priorities, which now seems to be swapping with inclusion and growth. 2017 grads, for example, also report that equality is the most important cause for employers to support, followed by environment and health.
3. Flexibility & Autonomy
Contract work, gigs, working remotely, and a very comfortable willingness to move on quickly from a job, make rigid work environments less and less attractive. Fostering independent growth plans and being more open to short-term arrangements or flexible work hours might need to hit the negotiate table.
What Now? How To Make This Actionable
From a high level, companies need to build mentorship structures and focus less on free beer and micromanagement. This is about management and goal setting structures that encourage growth as well as autonomy. As far as culture goes, diversity and inclusion measures should be institutionalized and actively supported by leadership, i.e. through hiring practices, in-office communication standards, or workshops and open resources.
On a more micro-level, managers should work closely with new hires and interns, as guides not generals, and work with each other to craft a growth plan. Finally, office time and the typical 40+ hour in-office work week may need to be re-examined. That said, if you can fulfill the Gen Z worklife “sweet spot”, flexibility is less important than a stable, healthy work environment, and you can expect them to become a loyal and productive part of the team.