Gone are the days when a turkey at Thanksgiving is the only way to show appreciation for employees. The labor force demographic is quickly changing and in less than a decade Millennials will make up approximately 75% of the U.S. workforce followed closely by Gen Z who are just starting to establish their careers. What these generations value in the workplace - and what they expect from it - varies greatly from earlier generations.
While customary expectations and values such as a sense of purpose, feeling appreciated, open communication, growth, trust, and respect may crisscross the generational divide, attitudes about what is important to workers is clearly shifting. Preferences for benefits and perks are becoming less traditional and more unique and personalized to the individual worker. Free snacks, free breakfast, paid fitness memberships and even napping rooms are things the younger generations value.
And after so many people have spent more than a year working remotely due to the pandemic, employers are experiencing an accelerated shift in workplace trends that have taken a bold new direction. These trends are driving changes to hiring, staffing and training policies as well as compensation and benefit plans. Companies that see the value in adapting and making changes to keep staff happy and satisfied can help ensure their future success.
Figuring out what is important to employees of all generations is no longer on the horizon—it’s at the employee entrance!
An Emphasis on Safety, Health and Wellness
The increased emphasis on safety is something that goes hand-in-hand with the COVID-19 pandemic and it will be a top priority for employees returning to work. Companies should be prepared to communicate how they will keep staff safe. Employees will want to know what office safety protocols are in place, especially in common areas like bathrooms, kitchens, conference rooms and more.
But that’s not all. Employees across all generations have traditionally considered how a company cares about its staff a factor in their employment decision. Workers want employers to provide support with every aspect of an individual’s wellness -- mental, physical, and financial. They want help to reduce stress and balance family responsibilities. Some companies are responding with programs such as child-care reimbursement, lunch and learn seminars on topics such as how to manage anxiety and even untraditional perks such as offering pet care insurance, utility reimbursement and stipends for cleaning services.
Tip: Conduct a survey to learn what employees think about how your business is doing to keep them safe and healthy. Then make changes if necessary!
Remote Work Options and Modern Technology
The pandemic forced companies in every business segment to literally transition to a remote workforce in a matter of weeks. And now, as society returns to a pre-pandemic world, employees are asking employers to continue working remotely either full-time or on a hybrid model. What companies thought would be a temporary solution has turned into a wide-spread shift in ideas about going to a specific location to perform work. Employees of all generations have experienced the benefits of working from home, know they can do it productively and want to continue down the path of being able to improve their work-personal life balance.
Tip: Employees want employers to be open to workplace changes that offer flexibility.
In line with the trend to work remotely, employees will expect a higher availability of cloud technology and centralized communication to allow them to perform their job optimally from home. The digital transformation that was pushed to the forefront as a result of the pandemic, made the way we communicate with each other instantaneous and employees expect that to continue. That means embracing modern platforms like Microsoft Teams, Zoom and others in addition to "tried but true" outlets like email and text messaging.
The Importance of Company Culture
In recent years, the culture of a workplace has become more of a factor for people looking to join or stay with a company. Today, staff want to work for companies that value diversity, equity and inclusion. They expect opportunities for mentoring and coaching for all employees and value help to further their professional and personal growth. Employees also want to be heard, recognized and respected for their contributions and a top priority for many is open and transparent communication from the C-suite.
Tip: Consider hosting roundtables several times a year with small groups of employees and the executive team. The forum should be a safe place for two-way open and candid discussions about opinions, ideas and attitudes about all things related to the company.
All generations of the workforce expect leaders of the organization to exhibit ethical behavior and are intent in holding them accountable to be trustworthy and honorable. Equally important, employees want to see their company making contributions to the social, environmental and economic well-being of the communities it serves. And, they expect more than just monetary contributions--they want to know how the company they work for is making the world a better place.
Learn how Lakeland associates played a role to define the bank’s new Mission, Vision and Core Values.
The workplace is experiencing sweeping changes due to the effects of the global pandemic as well as a generational shift that will change the workforce over the next five to ten years. In just the course of a year, employers are dealing with a strong push to offer remote work capabilities, taking extraordinary measures to ensure worker safety and answering the call to endorse diversity and inclusion programs. Businesses are in a position to embrace the new landscape of the workforce and those that partner with employees to do so will be able to attract and maintain the talent needed to create a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
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