Managing young employees needn’t be hard work

by | Oct 6, 2015 | News

What the next generation of workers want from employment is good news for everyone, says Loubna Laroussi from Cirrus in People Management.

As Generation Z – those born in the mid-to-late-90s – enter the workplace over the next few years, leaders will soon have to balance their needs alongside traditionalists, baby boomers, Generation X and millennials. So, will leaders need to start thinking about juggling the preferences of four or five distinct generations operating side-by-side?

The answer is both yes and no.

It’s certainly true that millennials and Gen Z expect a level of influence that is more challenging of the traditional hierarchy than previous generations, and they are digital natives who place great value on work/life balance. But within the mountains of studies on how to manage millennials is some interesting evidence that young people in the workplace today aren’t actually very different to the young people that entered the workforce in the generations before them.

Research from Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University, found that all generations tend to place more value on meaning over money when young. Some retain their altruistic streak for longer, for example baby boomers give more to charity than any other group.

However, it is not enough to just dismiss the priorities of today’s younger generations. There are some important factors to consider when managing the new-type of workforce.

Hierarchy
Many modern organisations are more concerned with collaboration and shared decision-making than they used to be. Most leaders recognise they get the best out of people by sharing responsibility and forming meaningful connections. The traditional career path of ‘rising’ to become a manager of people is just not very appealing to many millennials and is likely to become a thing of the past in many industries.

Digitalisation
Again, this is now a fact of life. Organisations who don’t embrace digital technologies are getting left behind.  Any older workers who may still be struggling with the onslaught of technology may also be relieved to hear that the up-and-coming Gen Z is more keen on face-to-face communication than millennials before them. Although virtual and digital working have helped to transform many organisations for the better, it looks like we’ll see meeting up in person becoming more valued again.

Better work/life balance
Everyone wants that, no matter what age they are. Just because the younger generation is demanding it, doesn’t mean the rest of the organisation would not be open to new ways of working.

The more that leaders can help individuals understand how their role aligns with the organisation’s purpose and values, the more likely each individual is to contribute to the organisation’s success. Most of us will achieve more, and find work a rewarding experience if it has meaning.

So rather than considering how to juggle the needs of different generations, I suggest leaders think about balancing the needs of different individuals. Our age is not the only thing that separates or defines us, after all.

© People Management 2015

Click here to read Loubna’s article on the People Management website.

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