3 key expectations of Generations Y and Z. Workplaces with these key elements have younger employees who are more satisfied for longer.
John Francis Welch Jr., American business executive, chemical engineer, writer and chairman/CEO of General Electric is quoted as having said: “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”
This article will give you some insights about how to “grow” and develop your Gen Y & Z employees, keeping in mind that generalizations can only be taken so far, since people are individuals after all.
On the same page
Just to make sure you are thinking about the employees we are talking about, here’s a brief definition of both generations. We have given fixed dates for clarity, but some definitions soften the dates to give a slight overlap.
Generation Y (Gen Y, Millennials): People born between 1981—1996. At the time of this writing, the oldest of them are approaching 40.
Generation Z (Gen Z, Centennials): Those born between 1996—2010. Currently, the oldest of this generation are approaching 25.
Here’s a window on three top things these generations are looking for at their workplaces.
Relationship with technology
If Gen Y are digital natives, Gen Z could be seen as human-tech hybrids. In other words, while Gen Y are completely comfortable with technology (having successfully migrated from analogue to digital at a young age), Gen Z have it in their DNA. As a result, both generations are expecting workplaces which embrace all the features a tech-internet world has to offer. One huge example is remote working.
A recent study by Upwork and Inavero showed that Gen Y and Z see remote teams as normal. Of over 1000 managers surveyed, 69 percent of the younger ones have team members who work remotely. This is such a strong trend that according to this study, 73 percent of every team will include remote workers by 2028.
In the workplace
Workplaces which do not currently have a remote work option should actively start developing one now.
Generations Y and Z are “so comfortable with technology, for instance, that they sometimes have a hard time recognizing when a face-to-face conversation is more appropriate than an email exchange or text message” says assistant management professor Stephanie Creary of the Wharton Business School (University of Pennsylvania, USA) in a recent article.
On the one hand then, these younger generations are looking for workplaces which interact via devices with screens.
Having said that…
An Australian study checked in with 67 university students to assess any differences between remote (online, screen) and face to face (F2F) meetings in an educational setting. The study divided the students into two groups. One group had their classes online (written work, discussions, assessment); the other in a totally F2F way via the traditional classroom setting.
The results were as follows:
- There was no significant difference in the academic achievements of the two groups.
- Students strongly preferred that class discussions be face to face. This was due to a greater feeling of engagement and more immediate feedback.
- Although online written tasks meant more flexibility as far as when the work could be done, the students preferred the classroom setting as it gave them the opportunity to discuss the content with their classmates.
The preference for face to face communication is reflected in workplace data, too, but only for Gen Z. This generation prefers face to face meetings while Gen Y opts for digital interactions (email, text).
In the workplace
Overall, workplaces should provide some physical, human contact even if this is not the first preference of some employees. Having periodic, physical meetings in addition to online conferencing is one place this could happen. Another natural event is face to face performance reviews.
Work-life balance is important (47% for Gen Y and 39% for Gen Z) according to Forbes Magazine. Since 84 percent of Gen Y employees report feeling burned out at work, employers need to make this a priority. It is recommended to check in with your younger employees frequently, getting feedback about how they are really feeling. If needed, offer flex-time or remote working, so they can re-energize.
More than the status quo is what millennial and centennial employees expect. According to Matthew Mottola, Future of Work and On-Demand Talent Program Manager at Microsoft, millennials “expect to architect our careers according to our lifestyle and our passions.”
Passion is a word Gen Z employees use, too. Bruntwood UK describes them as people who “want a job that makes a positive impact on the world around them, with many happy to volunteer for roles if it gives them a better chance of securing a job role they are passionate about.”
In the workplace
The first step towards workplaces offering their younger employees opportunities to fulfill their “missions, visions, and values” is getting to know who they are as individuals. With this knowledge, it will be easier to suggest roles and tasks which meet their needs.
Another keyword in younger employees is “human.” Despite their love of tech, both Gen Y and Gen Z do not want to lose the aspect of humanity in their lifestyles.
Humanity is more than face to face communication. It is about social causes and global impact. Workplaces which support their local communities and/or have world-wide humanitarian projects will make themselves more attractive places in which to work and encourage Generations Y and Z to stay with them longer.