Millennials, Gen Z and Flexibility — Pay Attention to These Numbers If You Want to Keep Your Staff

Source: Unsplash/Cristian Tarzi.

The focus on flexibility and work-life balance, and hybrid work is well underway. Business leaders cannot afford to ignore the trend, which has become a major focus for job hunters, particularly those in the younger demographic.

Change in the balance of power

Jacky Magid, co-owner and head of sales, marketing, and product innovation at Charlie’s Fine Food Co, described it as a “change in mentality”. During the early days of the pandemic, when jobs were threatened, employees felt very grateful for the security their positions offered.

Today, when recruiting, the conversation is often “These are my terms; as an employee, this is what I’m wanting to do, this is how I want to live my life now; I’ve really liked hybrid working, or, I’ve really liked staying at home for my family and being there for my kids.”

“It’s all great,” Magid said. “But the balance of power has really changed.”

Robert Wilkinson, chief experience officer at OfficeMaps, agreed about the shift, and said younger workers in particular have this “requirement that work is set up around them rather than the other way around”.

Wilkinson urged all employers to take these flexibility calls seriously, as they’re coming in stronger from the millennial and generation Z population. 

Gen Z workforce — don’t ignore these numbers

According to Deloitte, this cohort will make up 75% of the global workforce by 2025, and generation Z will soon surpass millennials as the most populous generation on earth.

“A lot of older workers who are managers don’t quite realise how prevalent the gen Zs and millennials are these days,” Wilkinson said.

In an Employment Hero study from late last year, 50% of hybrid and remote workers said they’d quit their jobs if their management opted for a full-time return to the office. That number increased to 61% for millennials.

Think about the work, not the building 

Wilkinson said, of the brands his firm has worked with, the ones who’ve done the best job of riding the hybrid work wave successfully — getting the most out of office assets, productivity and people — are the ones who “looked at what work looked like in the future, rather than what the [office] building looked like in the future”.

“When it comes to flexibility, we’re still talking about the same things, you know it’s still the time and place questions that employees have, but it’s more of a ‘where do we end up on the spectrum of what that looks like?’”

Talk to your team — and listen

For Cayla Dengate, a careers expert at LinkedIn, getting it right comes down to communication.

“For business owners, the first thing to do is to talk to your teams, because everyone’s different, everybody’s idea of flexibility is different, and there might be ways that you can maintain productivity but provide that flexibility to employees who really need it to make that work-life balance work for them.”

“Your employee needs to feel like they can come to their boss with a plan for flexible arrangements and be heard,” Dengate said.

This article originally appeared in SmartCompany to inform readers about Smart50 Workplaces, which gives national recognition to great Australian SME workplaces. Think your business deserves to be on the list? Enter now.