Over the past year, LinkedIn saw a 54% increase in job transitions among its 800 million global members. This reshuffling of talent is most noticeable among Gen Z and Millennial workers, who seem to be looking for something different—something more—from their employers.
Believe it or not, this trend of demanding more from work is a good thing for all of us.
In this post, we’ll explore how Gen Zers and Millennials are reshaping workplaces to be more authentic, inclusive, and flexible—and how you can take action to attract and retain these younger employees at your own organization.
Why now’s the time to listen to Millennial and Gen Z workers.
LinkedIn’s data tracking revealed that Gen Z's job transitions increased by 80% while Millennials’ rates are up by 50%. For context: Gen Xers saw an increase of 31%, while Baby Boomers experienced a 5% bump. It’s clear that younger generations are leading the way when it comes to the Great Resignation, but why?
This group of workers grew up with the internet, with social media, with global perspectives at their fingertips. They tend to be remarkably informed and have words and tools for mental health, boundaries, and work-life balance that we just haven’t seen in the past.
And many organizations haven’t yet evolved their workplaces to reflect this challenge to the status quo and shift in employee priorities.
This is a serious oversight.
Millennials currently make up more than one-third of the U.S. workforce—making them the largest generation represented—and Gen Z is right on their heels. By 2030, Gen Z employees are expected to make up 30% of the U.S. workforce.
If you don’t take the time to understand and adapt to the needs of Millennials and Gen Zers today, you could lose out on the talent of tomorrow.
What you need to know about the workforce of the future.
Having a general understanding of what your younger employees want from their jobs can help guide your decisions—from the benefits you offer to the way you approach employee recognition. With that in mind, here are a few key points to know about your Gen Z and Millennial workers.
Gen Z in the workplace: What you need to know.
Gen Z employees—people born between 1997 and 2012—are the youngest members of the workforce. While they’re still relatively new to the workforce, Gen Zers are already crystal clear about what they want from their jobs.
Gen Zers are all about authenticity.
Gen Zers crave authenticity. Which is why they tend to search for jobs that align with their personal values and are drawn to companies that are making positive contributions to society. It’s also why Gen Z employees want to work somewhere they feel physically and psychologically safe expressing who they are. To cultivate a culture of authenticity, you can:
- Reflect on your organization. What are your values? What makes your organization different from others? Why do your employees love working there? Use the answers to these questions to codify your authentic employer brand.
- Make your company’s mission and values visible both internally and externally—and find ways to bring them to life so that they’re more than just words on a wall.
- Invest in training (including training to support diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives) that teaches leaders and managers to create a safe, inclusive, and open company culture for employees.
Gen Zers are looking for flexibility.
As digital natives, Gen Zers are fully aware that technology can make it challenging to completely separate work and home life. Because of this, employees of this generation value flexibility—whether that’s having the option to work remotely or take time off when they need to look after their wellbeing.
While Millennials set the precedent for flexible workplaces, Gen Z is leading the charge when it comes to demanding choice from their employers. That’s why 42% of Gen Z workers make work-life balance, working from home, and flexible vacation time a top priority when looking for a job. To introduce more flexibility to your organization:
- Let employees choose when, where, and how they want to work. And offer benefits that support a flexible lifestyle, such as paid mental health days and child care offerings.
- Recognize top-performing employees with a flexible program that lets them choose how they’re rewarded. Experiential rewards are a great option for this. With Blueboard, your Gen Z employees can look through a menu of experiences and pick a reward that aligns with their interests, personalities, and lifestyles.
- Invest in tools that make flexible work seamless, such as high-quality video conferencing, noise-cancelling software, and online communication platforms.
Gen Zers are demanding diversity.
More than any other generation, Gen Zers care deeply about diversity. In fact, 77% of Gen Z employees say a company’s level of diversity affects their decision to work there. This is likely because employees of this generation are themselves more racially and ethnically diverse than previous generations and want to see the same level of representation in their workplaces. To cultivate a diverse workplace:
- Bring in DEI-focused experts and consultancies to help build a thoughtful program. Remember: Gen Zers value authenticity and won’t be satisfied with performative DEI. Make real commitments and follow through on them.
- Rethink your recruiting processes to bring in more diverse hires across every team, level of seniority, and location.
- Invest in training that helps educate and cultivate productive conversations among employees about diversity-focused topics. And create spaces—such as employee resource groups (ERGs)—where people can further these learnings.
Millennials in the workplace: What you need to know.
Millennials—people born between 1981 and 1996—have been part of the workforce for many years now. But there are a lot of myths about Millennials that distract from what these employees truly want from their jobs. Here’s what you should consider when it comes to your Millennial employees.
Millennials are prioritizing growth.
Millennials tend to look for opportunities to learn. 61% say learning is the key to success in their careers, and one of the strongest Millennial traits is their desire for feedback. They don’t want to wait for their annual performance review to receive recognition or constructive comments—51% expect feedback to be given very frequently or continually on the job. To keep your Millennial employees happy, you need to:
- Offer benefits, programming, and mentorship opportunities that help employees progress their personal and professional goals.
- Have structured programs and processes to help employees understand how they’re progressing within your organization. This includes performance reviews, recognition programs, and career maps.
- Cultivate a culture of continuous feedback, where employees are empowered to give and receive feedback in all directions—whether that’s with company leaders, managers, or peers.
Millennials care about transparency.
Transparency breeds trust. That’s why 84% of Millennials said they would be more loyal to a brand or company if they knew it was transparent. But what exactly does transparency mean? According to employees, transparency is about being in the know when it comes to a company’s culture, values, revenue, strategy, and salaries. To operate as a transparent organization:
- Use clear, plainspoken language when communicating with employees or candidates—especially about your company values, culture, benefits, and compensation.
- Be open about sharing any data or decisions that affect the rest of the organization—whether that’s about salaries, company revenue, or an upcoming pivot.
- Survey employees regularly to gauge how they perceive your company’s level of transparency. Just because your leadership team believes they’re being forthright doesn’t necessarily mean the rest of your workforce agrees.
Millennials crave purpose.
To Millennials, their jobs are more than just jobs—they’re a potential source of fulfillment and a strong part of their identity. At the Best Workplaces, 80% of Millennial employees say their work has special meaning and is more than “just a job.” And nearly nine out of ten Millennials would consider taking a pay cut to work at a company whose mission and values align with their own. To help employees feel a sense of purpose in their day-to-day roles:
- Remember that every employee may be operating from different purpose archetypes, so focus on helping them identify their own definition rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach.
- Create space for employees to reflect on their own sense of purpose, and how it connects to the company’s purpose. This can be through one-on-one conversations with managers or intimate small group sessions. A McKinsey study found that people who have such opportunities are nearly three times more likely than others to feel their purpose is fulfilled at work.
Prepare for Millennial and Gen Z employees today for a better future of work.
The good news is that what Millennials and Gen Z employees want from their workplaces is beneficial to employees across all generations. An increased commitment to values like growth, authenticity, and diversity will only move workplaces in a more human-centered direction and ultimately allow organizations to attract more talent, hold onto their top employees, and experience better business outcomes.
This post was originally published in 2016 but has been updated to reflect up-to-date information.