By John Crossan, Vice President & General Manager of Europe
The Great Resignation dominated discussions around the workforce last year. Partly a result of pandemic uncertainty and partly due to a mentality shift around what we as employees expect from our workplace, the UK saw record high levels of workers quitting their jobs.
According to recent research from Freshworks and the London School of Economics (LSE), this mentality shift towards our workplace has become especially prevalent amongst younger generations, Gen Y and Gen Z. With Generation Y now the largest working group, employers will need to cater to these new expectations around the workplace, or risk falling behind competitors.
The report found three key themes in the way that younger generations view the workplace. Firstly, that flexibility now outranks salary in importance when looking for a new role, secondly, Gen Y and Z expect employers to understand and respect different ways of working, balancing team collaboration with the desire to work independently too. Finally, employers are also expected to consider how Gen Y and Z want to work. For the first tech-native generation, this means offering self-service options for repetitive tasks and access to instant messaging applications to communicate with colleagues. In the current climate, widely regarded as an ‘employees’ market’, it’s more important than ever that employers understand what makes these individuals tick, not only to attract top talent but to retain it too.
Money matters, but not entirely…
Marking a significant departure from the attitudes of Gen X and boomer colleagues, Gen Y and Z are now more concerned about workplace flexibility than any other factor when it comes to choosing a job, ranking it as the most important factor above salary. For the first time ever, flexibility of hybrid work and the freedom to travel means much more than a high paying job or job security for these younger employees.
Why? Well, with the pandemic offering a ‘new normal’ to workers, shining a light on the possibilities of a great work-life balance, the younger generation are reluctant to go back. The pandemic proved that workers didn’t need to be in person to be productive and put power in employees’ hands which they hadn’t had previously.
Despite these generations favoring flexible work approaches, this doesn’t mean that Gen Y and Z seek to work in isolation and ditch their co-workers. The research undertaken by Freshworks and LSE in fact found that collaboration and communication was also fundamental to employee satisfaction. While constant collaboration was not the favored workplace setup, 44% of Gen Z and Gen Y opted for a combination of solo and team work as their preferred style of working.
The report highlighted the importance of employees being open minded to different people’s preferences when it comes to ways of working: just like Gen Y and Z want flexibility on where they work, they want flexibility on how they work too.
Don’t email, DM
Gen Y and Gen Z expect that employers will not only respect their working styles but will offer them the technology to enable them to do so effectively. These employees want to see less emails and more modern technology that allows for instant responses and communication, with over 30% reporting that using instant messaging channels was their ‘ideal’ workplace technology tool.
As well as a preference for direct and instant communication, chatbots and AI capabilities were also listed by almost 30% of respondents as ways to improve employee engagement, as well as companies offering more self-service options to carry out simple tasks being the preference for 23% of respondents. For digital native Gen Y and Z, the immediacy, flexibility and freedom that they find in their everyday lives when communicating with friends, family and even companies is something they expect to see replicated in the workplace too.
Focus on flexibility
Making your company appeal to Gen Y and Z comes down to a key workplace characteristic: flexibility. Whether that’s in where they work, or how they work, Gen Y and Z are looking for somewhere which enables them to work in a way that works for them, supported by modern and efficient technology tools. Companies can also benefit from this flexible approach: not only can it mean happier and more engaged workers, but it can save companies money on costly office space and enable them to recruit from a nationwide talent pool. What’s more, enabling your employees with modern tools will boost productivity and see better results across the business. With Gen Y and Z now making up over 25% of the working population, it’s imperative businesses know how to adapt to the new normal of the new generation.