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Workforce Trends: Driving Change with Millennial and Gen Z Workforces

By Sonya Buckley

When the pandemic struck, it affected baby boomers, generation Xers, millennials and gen Z workers alike. Amid rapid change, the adaptability of newer workers has been significant. Digital natives, they readily adapted to remote work, with often surprising results. For employers looking to stay competitive amidst ongoing change, understanding the perspectives and preferences of these rising generations is essential. What does it take to attract, retain and grow this workforce?

The Promise of Meaningful Work

While all people seek meaning in their lives, millennials typically want to find it in their jobs. According to a study by Glassdoor, 75% of millennials think highly of companies that support social causes. Employers must be clear and real about the values and mission of their organization. Whatever industry you serve, focus on meaningful purpose and passion with your employees. The definition of success varies from person to person and newer generations expect to shape their careers to their individual values. Allow flexibility and open dialog on goals to build a personal path forward. While newer workers tend to be job hoppers — 91% expect to stay with a company for less than 3 years — building “relationship equity” through ongoing transparent conversations can help drive satisfaction and commitment within the workplace.

A Work/Life Blend

More than just wanting to balance career and personal life as two distinct things, newer workers desire a co-existence. They want to manage their own time and appreciate flexibility in their workspace as well. In fact, most value autonomy and schedule flexibility over higher wages. Multi-tasking on multiple devices is second nature to millennial and gen Z workers. Their comfort with technology equips them to thrive remotely or in hybrid situations such as co-working spaces that they book to use as needed.

While many organizations adopted remote workforces reluctantly as a response to the pandemic, some observed significant increases in productivity, driving them to explore expanding these approaches to those who may desire them. Offering flexible choices to newer workers can be a win-win, delivering greater productivity and satisfaction.

Collaboration Over Competition

This generation wants to be heard and feels comfortable in team settings, appreciating the exchange of ideas and perspectives. Developing an information network or intranet can help establish a work environment allowing real-time collaboration. Give teams the freedom to establish goals and consider crowd sourcing or focus group approaches to encourage creative problem solving. Hold regular, such as monthly, team meetings to encourage the exchange of ideas in person as well. Tools like Slack, Basecamp, Trello and Facebook Workplace can become thriving workplace channels. Social media often integrates everything for newer workers and is a natural and essential tool for hiring.

Empowered Candidates

Today’s job seekers are sophisticated, informed “consumers” who shop intelligently for attractive employers. Pay attention to your online presence, including reviews from past candidates and employees on platforms like Indeed. Be intentional in cultivating your online presence. Regularly ask candidates to review their experience. Commit to monitoring your reputation among social networks. Lean into digital tools – for us that’s our Work4HD hiring app – and virtual interviewing.

Continual Feedback

Newer workers expect affirmation and communication from leadership. Focus on driving meaningful purpose and passion with your employees. Create an open environment. Replace annual reviews with monthly one-on-ones – or quarterly “stay interviews” to explore future goals and interests. Begin by asking employees to self-assess; this can unearth underlying concerns or disconnects and inform clearer communication between managers and associates. Look for alignment between workers’ interests and your organization’s future needs and consider creating new tracks or career paths for talented individuals.

Keep Pace with Change

Newer generations are acclimated to an era of continual advancement of technology — and social change. Feed their desire to learn and to lead growth by providing relevant learning opportunities to propel their career in the way they desire. How you teach employees makes a difference too. Accommodate short attention spans with more frequent, “snack size” training on digital tools. Shoot short videos and encourage sharing of learnings among team members. The rate at which your organization can learn may be the #1 sustainable source of competitive advantage.