4 things Gen Z and Millennials expect from their workplace
Highlights of history
- Gen Z and Millennials now make up 46% of the full-time U.S. workforce
- Generation X and Baby Boomers are prioritizing their desire for ethical leadership
- Diversity and inclusion are very important for the younger generations
According to Gallup, Gen Z and Gen Y now make up almost half (46%) of the full-time workforce in the United States
To train the next generation of organizational leaders, every employer should ask themselves: What do our young workers want in the workplace?
In 2018, Gallup asked Gen Z and Millennials what they looked for most in an employer – and their responses were surprisingly similar. In fact, these themes have only been amplified in the past year.
What employees look for in their employer, by generation
|Young Millennials and Generation Z: 1989-2001||Alumni: 1980-1988||Generation X: 1965-1979||Baby boomers: 1946-1964|
|1. The organization cares about the well-being of employees.||1. The organization cares about the well-being of employees.||1. The leadership of the organization is ethical.||1. The leadership of the organization is ethical.|
|2. The leadership of the organization is ethical.||2. The leadership of the organization is ethical.||2. The organization cares about the well-being of the employees.||2. The organization cares about the well-being of the employees.|
|3. The organization is diverse and includes everyone.||3. The leadership of the organization is open and transparent.||3. The financial stability of the organization.||3. The financial stability of the organization.|
1. Above all else, Generation Z and Generation Y want an employer who cares about their well-being.
The year 2020 put employee well-being at the forefront. If the people in your organization are not healthy – physically and emotionally – your organization is not healthy either. But an organization’s stance on employee well-being has long been a major factor in where people want to work and what they think of their current employer – in fact, it was one of the three main problems for each generational cohort. before COVID-19[FEMALE[FEMININE
To train the next generation of organizational leaders, every employer needs to ask: What do our young workers expect from the workplace?
Most organizations have wellness programs, but physical wellness alone is not enough. For example, young employees may be in good physical health but suffer from social isolation which affects their productivity. Entry-level workers can experience serious financial difficulties that affect their daily performance. Gallup has identified five elements of well-being: career, social, financial, community and physical. Each element influences the others, and flourishing in each of them is necessary for a life well lived.
2. Generation Z and Generation Y want their leaders to be ethical.
2020 was a banner year for SEC fines and corporate-related fines. Combined with the high-profile fraud scandals of recent years, these generations have grown up watching a parade of breaking news. unethical behavior.
There is no doubt that ethical scandals are toxic to the health and success of organizations. And it’s not just about compliance or public relations anymore. The employees themselves want more than the legal minimum or executive platitudes. They are waiting for bold action to tackle moral blind spots. And they want to know that the work they do has a net positive impact on humans and the natural world.
But there’s a deeper issue that strikes at the heart of every team: the productivity value of trust. When team members trust each other, all works better. Do your employees think that their team members are committed to quality work? Can people collaborate together knowing that everyone is being honest? Do workers – whatever their rank – feel that their concerns will be heard?
Notably, Gen X and Baby Boomers also place great importance on ethics – in fact, this is the main attribute they look for in an employer. One question to ask is how different generations can view ethics differently.
Older generations may associate ethical behavior with a personal character. The younger generations are concerned about people and the planet.
3. Older millennials want open and transparent leaders.
Millennials are unique in their desire for open and transparent leaders. This may be because many of them entered the workforce during the 2008 financial crisis – the result, in part, of subprime mortgages being bundled together to look much better than they weren’t.
Millennials also received mixed messages about a fundamentally strong economy – even as the bottom fell. And some of them may feel like they’ve been duped into easy but expensive student loans that they still pay back more than a decade later.
As a result, millennials in their 30s may have a more “trust but verify” approach to business positivity. If you have a lot of millennials in your organization, they might want more facts, data, and third-party validation to feel confident in your leadership.
This is notably an area in which business leaders have excelled during the COVID-19 pandemic. Employee engagement in the United States has increased over the past year, and HRDs at the world’s largest companies have noted that increased communication and public meetings have been welcomed.
If you have a lot of millennials in your organization, they might want more facts, data, and third-party validation to feel confident in your leadership.
4. Gen Z and Millennials want leaders who support a diverse and inclusive workplace.
The younger generations have grown up in a much more diverse world than previous generations. They demand respect, fairness and inclusion – and they vote with their consumption and employment choices. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DCI) is not a “good to have” for this generation; it is an imperative that is at the heart of their personal identity.
While U.S. employee engagement in 2020 showed a calendar year increase, it took a historic drop this summer during the George Floyd protests. And business leaders have noticed it. DCI is now a top priority for business leaders across the country – as it has been for young workers for some time now. One way to think about DCI in the workplace is individualized respect. Young people want to be appreciated for their unique contributions and they want to feel respected. As with ethics, DCI is not just about company policy. It affects the way employees do their daily work. Lack of respect breeds mistrust, which destroys collaboration and honest communication. Respect and recognition are important in all directions – peers, managers, policies, systems and leaders.
Much like the ethics discussion above, a ‘do no harm’ approach to FDI is not sufficient. Younger generations expect to be coached and developed at their workplace. Gallup Analytics shows that Millennials are more likely than the previous generation to say that development opportunities and “managerial quality” are extremely important in a new job. Young employees want a manager who cares about them as a person and actively participates in their career development.
In other words, the younger generations want ESG.
Although measures for socially responsible organizations have been around for decades, these environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria are increasingly at the forefront of discussions between investors, boards of directors and executives. While there is evidence that ESG measures are closely linked to financial performance, there is no general benchmark for the “human pillar” of ESG.
What we are seeing now is a convergence of international business leadership, investor interest and generational demands. The questions Gallup asked above – about ethics, the environment, well-being, and inclusion – will soon be the basic social criteria by which every organization’s purpose will be measured.
Meet the needs of the new workforce.
If you’re struggling to inspire Gen Y and Gen Z employees in your workplace, consider the following steps:
Start leadership conversations that address these four factors in your culture.
If your organization hasn’t addressed the above points – well-being, ethical and transparent leadership, and diversity, equity and inclusion – recently, it’s time to start these conversations with your leadership team. These are not subjects reserved for “young people”. Each topic is also relevant for older generations. Your management team may not agree that these things are important. This in itself is a conversation worth having.
Respect and recognition are important in all directions – peers, managers, policies, systems and leaders.
Coach your managers to communicate and keep your organization’s promises.
You may already have programs and policies in place to address these issues. But these efforts fail if your frontline employees don’t know them. Employees experience your organization through their manager. If your managers don’t, it’s not your culture. It is imperative that managers are trained to care about employees as people and to set expectations for ethical and inclusive behavior.
Incorporate these themes into every stage of the employee lifecycle.
Executives should take a close look at their current talent strategy to see how it compares to the wants and needs of today’s young workforce. For example:
Does my talent attraction strategy focus on employee well-being?
Does my integration program address ethics in a meaningful way?
How transparent and open are our leaders when communicating downstream?
How does my advancement and promotion system address diversity and inclusion?
Leaders cannot address these factors in a one-day event. They require full integration into your culture and your employees must live in real interactions with your organization.