We were having a delightful dinner with a friend of ours who is in charge of talent acquisition for a global company. She has been in the game for a while and has had to deal with all types of situations. As we sipped our wine, she told us about the major shift she is seeing in the current generation of workers.
While pay and benefits are obviously still important, she has seen a sea change in what the current generation prioritizes. She said that in many cases work life balance has the same priority as pay. Some candidates will refuse a very good offer if it does not fit into their lifestyle.
In times past, people focused more on fitting their personal life around their work life. Now it is the other way around. In addition, they scrutinize the workplace culture and have expectations that it is healthy, ethical and balanced. They want their career path to align with their personal growth path.
As practicing psychotherapists we are all about work/life balance. A good balance is essential for a long productive life. Some companies have been lauded for their efforts in this area for some time. It is now important that all companies pay attention to this or they risk losing qualified candidates.
So what are some of the things that the Gen Z and Millennial employees are looking for?
Employers who care about their wellbeing.
Leaders that value and practice transparency.
Meaningful company goals.
Clear understanding of how their contribution will help accomplish these goals.
Ability to have a voice. They don’t need to be in control, but want to know they have been heard.
Companies that actively promote a diverse and inclusive workplace.
Companies that make ethical and sustainable investments.
Companies that are involved in the community.
Understanding what is important to this new generation of workers can help leaders in a variety of ways. During recruitment, it can guide the development of benefit packages and discussion points for potential candidates. Once they are part of your team, developing policies which reflect this generation's dedication to living their values at work will help you retain them.
The following management practices can help communicate that you are listening to what is important to this generation of workers:
Develop job descriptions that specifically connect employee’s duties to the goals of the company.
Conduct regular one on one meetings that check in on the employee’s well being in addition to job performance.
Provide a variety of ways to receive employee input.
Conduct regular town hall meetings to give updates on the long term direction of the company as well as its impact on the community at large.
If you think about it, the workplace is constantly evolving. Think of the “Mad Men” era where everyone dressed up for work, women were relegated to lower positions and diversity, equity and inclusion wasn’t even a term. It took courage and persistence to bring about the changes that have benefited the workplace since then.
The values that the current generation are introducing to the workplace are admirable. The old guard and the new guard can learn from each other and work together to positively transform the culture of work.