The global workforce as we’ve known it has been made up of diverse generations – each with their own unique working styles and preferences. Although this pandemic has changed the way we work and created a unified resolve where all employees face similar professional demands and common limitations. In a matter of weeks, a large majority of workers adapted and developed new habits, beliefs and ethics. For the first time, different generations are starting to think alike.
Today’s workplace encompasses four generations — Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z, each with their own values and perceptions. This creates a significant challenge especially when the workplace dynamics have shifted during lockdown to create a more unified post-pandemic era.
Workforce Dynamics In the Pandemic Era
Many organisations around the world have faced the gravest disruption in more than a generation, with a variety of sectors facing an existential threat amid a severe economic downturn. During these difficult times, friction between generations can become more prevalent and visible. Misperceptions about colleagues’ dedication to work are multiplied by natural anxiety in times of distress, leading to a culture of blame if things go wrong. Yet, now more than ever, it became evident how Managers and employees of all ages have pushed their differences aside to work together to create a more resilient workforce. Employees are moving great strides in their efforts, especially regarding technology.
A Global Web Index report explored how people have increased their technology consumption both personally and for work as a result of the outbreak, and how it differs across each generation. When we look closer at this data, its becomes evident how the economic shifts changed the way each generation made use of technology especially regarding how they work.
What are the Generations doing differently now?
Gen Z growing by adjusting and building skills :
Generation Z is reaching adulthood during a period of time when great economic crises are undermining global stability and increasing unpredictability. Gen Z is usually best known for being the first “digital native” generation, even more, tech-savvy than the Millennials, but the two generations have much greater differences as well. According to the Workforce Institute, Gen Z is divided on how they feel about the current gig economy, they appreciate the flexibility it offers but they don’t like the lack of security. Their technical skills are absolutely good enough to navigate in a remote learning situation, which is the current perusal – more education now than ever.
Millennials will gravitate towards stability:
Many Millennials are motivated by purpose-driven work first and foremost and do not see a reason to be loyal to employers who no longer offer the promise or security of long-term employment. It seems inevitable that Millennials will shift their priorities toward saving and stability, pushing the trend of a consumption-driven culture. They will also be more willing to trade maximum job satisfaction in exchange for more stability. Millennials who may have favored job hopping over networking and building strong work relationships may find they’ll have a longer uphill climb ahead as they seek a more permanent position at work.
Gen X Leaders begin taking initiatives:
They and others with valuable experience on the front lines will shift to helping others through teaching, writing, coaching and speaking. While this may lead to a brain drain for companies, these Gen-Xers will look to new and different ways to offer their expertise and talent, likely a through all the safe social distancing.
Baby Boomers have gone online:
Baby Boomers or “Boomers,” classified as people born from 1946 to 1964, have grown more comfortable with technology over recent years. A 2019 Pew Research study found that 68% of Baby Boomers own smartphones and 52 percent own tablets. That technology use has about to leap upward. Boomers are characterized as being workaholics who relish long weeks and overtime. They are more committed to their roles than any other generation, and have more so taken a step up to take the lead at work. For many, their work commitments resonate high in their abilities to lead those who are unsure of the times.
New Unified Workforce Generation Characteristics:
- Proactively preparing for the “new normal”: The new workforce believe’s that great shifts at work will be made after the pandemic , and they’re currently preparing for it now. They feel the future workplace will become more competitive, impacting their career and futures. Most workers have committed to online learning, or even just continuing their studies to come out being stronger.
- They have begun to thrive in remote workplace settings: While many workers prefer working in pre-defined, fixed office hours, the new workforce generation prefers the remote work options. They believe the flexible schedules and technology available allows them to be more productive when working from home .
- Drawing a more distinct line between work and personal life: Despite the lockdown blurring boundaries between home and work, the new workforce generation workers have learned to juggle both personal and professional lives successfully. With managers showing an understanding of new schedules and offering appreciation for hard work, these employees are finding new ways to achieve a work-life balance.
What does the new workforce generation means for organisations post pandemic
Although it is never possible to have your workforce fully integrated and collaborated the new workforce generation has shifted to create a more team-centric environment. While previously engaged employees are more receptive to the use of collaborative tech, or indeed to any new process, the virus has showed us the importance of technology beyond the restrictions of the office space. The organisations of tomorrow will also be data driven and analytical. Depending on how long this crisis lasts, once we come out the other side, it is likely that the world will only accelerate these changes.
Most organisations would acknowledge the warnings in mistakes made in trying to keep business running, but too many were unprepared to shift suddenly from protecting competitive advantage to embracing change that feels uncomfortable, even radical. Technology is not an answer all by itself and is a springboard if it enhances the employee and the customer experience. In the coming decades, companies that adopt remote working—not in response to crisis but as a long-term strategy—will win the war for talent over rivals who don’t.
Remote teams will be far better positioned for the next generation than office bound teams. A physical office means an organisation can hire the best person it can afford in a small geographic radius. Holding real estate thus disqualifies an employer from much of the world’s best talent.
Rethinking Performance Management
Leading companies must renovate their data-driven dashboards to better inspire people and project teams and promote positive outcomes. They must automatically capture and analyze, and explicitly communicate, their high-performance criteria. The most important takeaway: High-performance management depends on high-performance measurement. The digital future of one depends on the digital future of the other. Redefining and remeasuring high performance may prove to be the true disruptive opportunity for post-COVID-19 growth.
Commit to a continuous feedback culture.
Much as individuals use Google Maps or Waze to manage expectations around travel, employees and associates need dynamic visualizations to manage their expectations around work. Performance management platforms must facilitate ongoing feedback on professional progress, growth, and development opportunities. Executives must define the feedback experience for their people. Doing so forces leaders to define and develop a shared perspective about what high performance means.
Inclusive Workplace Culture
In the past, mentoring was typically considered to be an older person helping a younger person, but in today’s workplace, this relationship may become more reciprocal than it has in the past. Most importantly, remember the human and empathetic part of the mentoring relationship. Focus on what is important to the employee who needs help at this time. Consider their safety, specifically their physical, emotional and psychological state — and prioritize helping them to improve that in your role as a mentor.Generational differences are losing relevance and the new workforce generation commonalities will be front and centre in the future of work.