How Are Workplaces Preparing for Generation Z?
Workplaces now need to prepare for Generation Z, building on what millennials value.
What does it take to have a happy and engaged workforce? There are many theories and studies around this, and the findings are almost always tied into increase in productivity, engagement, ROI on employee initiatives, etc. They all seem to answer the question, “Are your employees happy and giving their best?”
This is more true when companies have a multi-generational workforce, like we do nowadays. Our employees at Infosys range from Gen X to millennials, and we need to make sure that what we offer caters to their various needs. Workplaces now need to prepare for Generation Z, building on what millennials value.
Millennials tend to value feeling happy in all that they do higher than all else. Workplaces need to explore multiple aspects of their culture and work practices to prepare for a large influx of Gen Z, starting with flexible work and ranging all the way through to open workspaces and robust rewards for good work.
Millennials are sometimes a paradoxical group. They look for flexibility in work, but at the same time, value stability in career growth. That isn’t to say that they like linearity, but they want the assurance that good work will be rewarded in a tangible way.
Learning on the job, the opportunity to think and solve problems on their own and most importantly to be recognised for their skills in the digital and networked world is something that creates a platform for long-term commitment.
It is also important to recognise that work-life boundaries for this group are increasingly getting blurred. Hence it is essential for companies to provide for flexibility that cater to a “digital nomad” way of working.
For example, at Infosys, employees get nine days of work-from-home per month to help them prioritise their personal commitments without compromising on professional commitments, along with remote access to work and webmail, BYOD, etc. To ensure that performance is measured well, there is a performance management system that focuses on the individual versus relative rating.
Millennials also require an open culture without too much red tape or communication barriers. That applies to Generation Z too. Navigating a multi-generational office can be frightening.
While the gen Z group does not want micro-oversight, they do appreciate honest and frank feedback. This helps them learn and perform better.
Finally, the key to happiness for Generation Z is to know that their work has a purpose; that their effort is leading to something larger than themselves. It is important to encourage purposeful work to help Generation Z believe that the organisation values their contribution towards a coherent, cohesive vision.
Therefore, it may not be important to tweak your strategy to suit your people, but since your strategy provides the purpose, it will be important to ensure that your strategy is not behind the times.
It must be in line with the need of the business hour, solving something larger than the company and its individuals. Policies, rules and work spaces can be more flexible, changing with the needs of the people inhabiting the space at that time.
When all of these are in place, companies can expect the millennial population to add another interesting chapter to the company culture. They bring with them a different ‘Weltanschauung’ that enriches and gets the company ready for tomorrow. And it will do well for all to remember that they will lead the company of tomorrow, so we need to enable them today!
(The author is Executive Vice-President and HR head with Infosys.)
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