As the year comes to an end, economists and insiders are beginning to stitch together a cogent synopsis for the workforce of the future. This year reintroduced several buzz words to our rumination, namely burnout, automation, work/life balance, retirement, and inclusivity. Each generation has played its own part in promoting each of these to the industry consensus. Millennials feel overworked and under-appreciated, Generation X feels like their losing touch with recreation (and the looming labor war with robots), Baby Boomers are deprived of their golden years because they can’t afford to stop working, even though the majority are exhausted, and Gen Zers refuse to be a part of corporations that don’t have their ethics in mind. As a consequence, employers are slowly augmenting their recruitment tactics to accommodate laborers, with the younger ones very clearly being advantaged first and foremost.
With this in mind, the folks over at Mavenlink produced their inaugural report of all of the generational differences and similarities that elucidate the modern workplace. The authors add, “While the research revealed that different age groups have mostly similar work culture preferences regardless of age, it also uncovered some nuances in their responses that require companies to take a multifaceted approach to building culture.”
The similitude of action, separation of thought
Starting with the similarities, work-life balance again proves itself to be a concern of the 21st-century laborer, irrespective of their age, though despite received wisdom, 18 to 24 year olds were the least likely to cite it as an important factor. For Millennials and Generation Z, team-building activities were a primary element of successful work culture. Again, in rebuke of the popular narrative, 35 to 44 year olds, a group frequently chided for their hesitance toward flexibility, occasioned continuous learning as a key aspect of an efficient firm. For some, achieving this meant adjusting priorities on their own end, but the majority of respondents agreed that healthy office culture is one that makes adjustments to accommodate and better yet—secures, a sense of equilibrium within its workers. Sixty-two percent of the respondents surveyed in the new Mavenlink report felt that this was one of the three most important elements of a company’s efficiency in fact. The estranging came down to the best ways to accomplish this.
From the report: “While all age groups generally agree on the elements of a work culture that breeds success, there are some nuances in their responses. Organizational leadership should take care to address these differences with a multifaceted approach. Luckily for organizational leadership, respondents highlighted their preferences for how to create a more inclusive, productive work culture.”
While a considerable portion of all the respondents agreed that more training paves the way for collective success, this sentiment was expressed more often by 25 to 34 year olds, and 45 to 54 year olds. As you might have already guessed, participants under the age of 44, desired more flexibility at their respective firms. Meaning, younger generations tend to believe that they could perform tasks better if they were permitted to go about doing so after their own particular fashions. Older workers were halved on this, with some feeling just the opposite of their younger counterparts: In their estimation, they worked better when they were apart of a finely-structured operation, complete with habitual meetings and lucid directions. The other half of older workers expressed a version of what the younger workers motioned: fewer meetings, fewer hands in the pot.
“With job automation, a growing subject of debate, almost all managers (96%) say they believe reskilling is important for employees. However, there is a generational divide on the best approach. While the vast majority of Baby Boomers feel the onus is on employers to reskill their staff, Millennials and Gen Z-ers are more likely to proactively seek out self-development and training schemes,” said career analyst Karen Gilchrist.
We again see parallels in action poisoned by division in thought when it came to tenure. Forty-six percent of all the generations surveyed intend on leaving their job within the next year. For the majority of older workers, this move is premised by better pay while 18 to 24-year-olds plan to find a more flexible gig and or one that doesn’t cause them to feel burnt out as often as they do now. Independent reports have suggested that the workforce’s youngest generation hope to land careers that are more diverse and mindful of social ethics. Fifty-seven percent of Gen Zers surveyed in a recent Olivet Nazarene University poll said that they would even take a considerable pay cut to be employed at a place that was premised by making the world a better place.
One change that seemed apparent cross-generationally, was the efficacious manner in which each respondent verbalized what they wanted and needed from their place of work. Unlike previous eras, workers aren’t poisoned by the tendency of complacency. This is what the Mavenlink experts referred to as the multifaceted approach to work and office culture: “Respondents highlighted their preferences for how to create a more inclusive, productive work culture, including more training, more flexibility, and great leadership.”