As with each generation that came before, younger employees bring about new trends and innovation into the workplace. With employment high across many developed nations, companies are striving to attract new candidates away from roles they’re currently in. In order to appeal to the Millennial and Gen Z workforce, employers need to understand what they value most about work environments. Whether this demographic shift excites you or not, these generations will soon be the vast majority of the workforce.
There are numerous steps companies can take to be competitive when it comes to talent attraction and retention. Here are 4 tips for making sure your company is keeping up with the needs of the growing younger workforce:
1. Flexible Work Arrangements
Younger employees, but especially Gen Z, put a lot of emphasis on having a proper work/life balance. This doesn’t mean what it once did, however. They are open to answering emails and Slack messages at 8:00 pm if work needs to be done, but would like the option of working from home, at least some of the time. With commute times getting longer and longer as city centre rent prices rise across the globe, allowing for late-start or partially remote working arrangements will be a major factor to draw candidates to your company.
Open vacation policies are also become quite popular among companies small and large. You may think that having “unlimited” vacation will result in employees taking off months and backpacking across Europe. However, that’s not the case in practice. Sure, some employees may choose long-term travel as an option. But they will generally work half days and check email regularly to make sure they are still on top of their assignments. They get to see the world, while also ensuring their work is completed.
Further, on average, employees take less time off on their own with vacation policies like this, than they do with an allotted number of days per year. When it’s black and white in their contract, they feel like it’s what they are entitled to. Whereas when the policy is open, they tend to follow the trends set by their coworkers and take fewer hours per year.
2. Upskilling and Career Progression
One of the top reasons for high turnover among younger workers is burn-out and plateauing. Keeping your workforce engaged and constantly learning new skills to progress in their field is key. Online platforms, like LinkedIn Learning, are great ways to upskill your workforce while allowing them to build up their CVs. Your company will end up with more satisfied employees who are excited to grow with the company, rather than put in their year or two and move on.
While self-improvement is important for young workers, ensure you provide a clear progression path and regular feedback from managers. As workers get comfortable in a position, management should be providing feedback about their progress and highlighting upcoming opportunities as skills develop. Workers will be more motivated and encouraged to put in the hard work if they know a new title and more responsibilities are attainable in the near future. Plateauing, especially early on their career, is something younger workers are allergic to.
Take the time with your managers and senior-level executives to ensure that proper career progression is readily available for hard-working and dedicated employees. This will ensure your company has a good retention rate, maintains a positive brand image, and ultimately, saves money on recruitment and training for new employees.
3. Use of Technology Among Younger Employees
Millennials and Gen Z are digital natives and they enter a workplace with certain expectations about the technology they will be using to ensure their time is spent efficiently. Cloud services, like Google Apps, CMS platforms, like Salesforce, along with HR solutions, like Zoho or ADP, all help employees quickly collaborate with colleagues and manage their payroll, and have become the norm. If your company is still working off of Excel spreadsheets for client management or only relying on email for intracompany communication, you are not meeting the basic technological expectations of the incoming workforce. Once an employee realizes they are spending unnecessary amounts of time on things like emailing documents back and forth, they will not not view the company as progressive. They might then want to quickly move on to somewhere they feel their time and talents would be better spent.
Take the time to see if you can optimise your internal workflows and communication. Some of the SaaS solutions may seem expensive and unnecessary at first. However, once your workforce adapts to them, you will quickly reap the benefits of higher efficiency and improved morale.
4. Stress Management
Avoiding burnout among younger employees has become a major factor in staff retention. Stressful work environments sometimes can’t be helped — salespeople will always have targets that need to be met, customer support agents will often have to mitigate situations with unhappy clients, and developers will have to work odd hours of the day to ensure bugs are fixed immediately. These situations can take their toll on employee mental health. Having a workplace that tries to mitigate stress as much as possible is helpful, however, stress management tactics take this a step further.
Younger employees want to feel like the company they work for 8 hours a day has their best interest at heart. Providing mindfulness breaks, hosting weekly de-stressing events during work hours, or even bringing in on-site therapy options are all great ways to help your workforce manage their mental well-being, keeping them satisfied at work and productive. A few ideas for events of this type could be: puppy rooms, morning yoga, or even a simple wine and cheese afternoon just before the end of the workday.
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