Research led by associate professor Ashish Malik, head of the management discipline at the University of Newcastle, Australia, concludes the impact of technological disruptions on several workplace innovations in workplace redesign. These include flexible work designs, such as technology-mediated home-based work, remote working, teleworking, co-working, working at third spaces, including Smart Work Hubs, and other flexible work options.
Although these designs have helped engage a vast majority of workforce groups, especially in the current times, organizations are finding it hard to engage with the younger workers, who require handholding as they commence their professional lives. Malik notes that most organizations suffer from inertia, which prevents employees from accessing flexibility in their work design. Further, the dominant coalition of senior leaders and managers often requires a business case to change standard workplace practices. The lack of trust by managers and leaders in their employees highlights a dark side of leadership, thus preventing employees from accessing remote or smart working opportunities, even for roles that can be performed from offsite locations.
Professor Vijay Pereira, head of department in people and organizations faculty, NEOMA Business school, France and colleagues studied Gen Y expatriates, whom they termed “Yopatriates” and defined them to be highly qualified and mobile, Generation Y (Gen Y) knowledge workers. In contrast to traditional expatriates, their study claims that these Yopatriates typify non-traditional forms of expatriation wherein they seek short-term international assignments to suit their individual (internal, rather than organizational or external) career orientations of learning and travel. Pereira studied this group using a case study analysis of a large Indian Multi National Corporation (MNC) delivering global information technology (IT) and business process offshoring (BPO) services. This generational work systems differentiate based on their work values.
It is not surprising to see employees exercise their agentic resources to negotiate and navigate the organizational work-life balance policies and circuits of power. This poses a more significant challenge for Gen Z employees, who find it challenging to navigate through the diversity of remote working policies. According to Malik, in the current pandemic, they feel left out with little to no face-to-face, on-site socialization with their mentors and co-workers. Therefore, helping recent graduates and young Gen Z employees thrive is essential to innovative companies, as they are a significant part of critical leading in the future.
According to Joe Du Bey, CEO and cofounder of Eden Workplace, this generation comes with a gift of genuinely caring about the future of the world and their place in it, valuing mission more and cash less than previous generations. However, Gen Z’s more holistic approach to work also comes with the need for their primarily non-Gen Z managers to evolve quickly, as it’s likely easier to alienate or disempower this generation if you manage them like prior cohorts of employees. As it relates to hybrid work, Gen Z wants flexibility, but still, over 85% wants access to an office, according to Eden Workplace’s recent data. So Du Bey recommends four ways companies can help their Gen Z employees thrive.
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1) Make your mission front and center. Gen Z expects their job to be more than a job –– they view it as a calling. “This is a departure from previous generations, and therefore your company must have a mission statement that is more than words on the wall,” says Du Bey. So, repeat it often, and make sure your values are ingrained in your daily operations.
2) Provide a very structured onboarding. Especially in a remote-first environment, it is easy to have onboarding feel too casual. “While Gen Z is special in their mission-orientation and maturity in many ways, they are still very early in their career journey and may require more handholding and formal training in their early days at your company,” says Du Bey. Therefore, companies need to create highly structured onboarding processes with collaborative checklists that are followed by the people team, IT team, and direct managers.
3) Provide flexibility. More so than prior generations, Gen Z values flexibility in various dimensions. This is a way around wanting flexibility as to where they work – more than 60% want a hybrid working environment, as reflected in Eden Workplace’s data survey – flexibility in working hours and even having multiple side projects or jobs as long as they get their responsibilities at work accomplished.
4) Create an in-person community. More so than any other generation, Gen Z wants to work with their colleagues in-person, with 90% wanting access to an in-person office. That said, they still need flexibility in how they work and often do not want to come in 5 days a week concludes Du Bey. “Additionally, Gen Z loves in-person events outside of work, and we’ve seen this in the rise of quarterly or semi-annual full company events across companies that hire many Gen Z team members,” he says.