Qualities young millennials and Gen Z value in a workplace
Young Millennials and Generation Z are characterised by their ability to thrive in dynamic environments where they can utilise their inherent passion for innovation and unorthodox problem-solving measures. With their unwavering dedication to generating positive impacts and their capability to continuously upskill themselves, they add unique sets of value at work. Synchronous to their unique potentials, their expectations from workplaces are distinctive.
While fair compensation commensurate with an employee's contribution is a necessity for ensuring job satisfaction, it is merely the bare minimum. This article explores other key traits an organisation should cultivate to attract and retain bright young talents.
Core organisational features: Young people dedicate active effort to define and develop their personal value system, either by introspection or observing their surroundings. This demographic gravitates towards workplaces whose purposes, missions, and visions align with their personal value systems. For instance, people inclined to improve environmental sustainability are naturally more interested in organisations that espouse such goals and actively pursue them by setting relevant key performance indicators. This is why, organisations should define and advertise their core values and priorities to attract those with a greater person-organisation fit, and by extension, person-role fit.
Growth and upskilling: Gen Z and young millennials are eager to constantly upskill themselves and implement their learnings practically to bring forth tangible improvements. Organisations can increase job satisfaction and retention of employees by offering them relevant boot camps, hands-on training, and skill development programmes. "I highly prioritise being able to learn and reskill myself at work," says Amran Azad, a student of the Institute of Business Administration, University of Dhaka. "In my first few positions, I do not plan to make bank; I would rather learn things I am interested in -- I am specifically interested in financial analytics/research. I joined Unilever Bangladesh Limited as a data analyst being confident about my abilities since I exceeded expectations in my analytics course last semester, only to find out that my skills have many scopes of improvement (even my Excel skills) to smoothly conduct my tasks during work," he elaborates. "This excites me since I get to learn at work every single day and have the avenue to solve problems innovatively," he states enthusiastically.
Ensuring work-life balance: The younger generation does not feel bound to define their identity solely based on their work, as they derive their sense of self from a diverse array of sources. Organisations seeking to retain young talents should acknowledge and honour this preference by ensuring work-life balance. Flexible arrangements, such as work-from-home options or hybrid office setups, yield several benefits. Employees can economise on transportation and associated costs, conserve time and energy, and enjoy increased productivity due in part to fewer distractions. In turn, organisations can minimise utility costs and access a wider talent pool since they would be free to hire from anywhere in the world regardless of location.
"Today, it is common for professionals to burn out at a very young age. Aside from fair compensation and benefits, work-life balance is a top priority for me," says Rafid Un Nabi, a senior legal counsel at the legal affairs department of a leading multinational company. "Work-life balance is needed to enjoy my free time and to refresh my mind. This also helps me plan and prepare for my upcoming responsibilities," he explains. He further states, "Provided that it does not significantly reduce the quality of their life, some people might be willing to opt for a slightly lower paying job if they are allowed flextime, work-from-home, and greater work-life balance."
Fairness, equity, and culture: Equitable compensation and benefits, transparency regarding salary obtained by each rank, and performance-based incentives are non-negotiables in today's workplace. Employees want to see that their contributions are valued proportionately. "Workplaces need a mechanism to categorise people and reward them accordingly," says Amran Azad referring to how performance-based incentives can be of various forms such as stock options, additional flextime, or monetary rewards depending on individual preferences. "Again, work culture is of great importance to me. My job satisfaction is largely fuelled by how amicable my coworkers are, how my manager treats me, and whether my time is respected," he emphasises. Young people desire a collaborative and innovative culture where new ideas/approaches are celebrated and hierarchy is not a barrier to innovation.
Valuing inclusivity, empowering minority groups, and taking active stances against discrimination are also key attributes young people seek in their workplace. Additionally, flat structures where the ideas of all employees are given equal weight foster an environment of creativity and open communication.
Embracing technology: Gen Z and young millennials are digital natives who expect their employers to integrate technology to automate their workflow and reduce manual tasks to elevate efficiency. By leveraging specialised softwares, social media platforms, and analytics, organisations can narrow down their goals and work towards their achievements in a streamlined manner.
If workplaces readily adopt new technology, employees can collaborate using digital tools such as video conferencing, project management platforms, and integrated systems, regardless of location. This can facilitate seamless communication with external stakeholders as well.
So how can Bangladeshi organisations ensure that they can attract and retain bright young minds? Of all the characteristics discussed above, Rafid Un Nabi emphasises the following: "To be more employee-friendly for the younger demographic, Bangladeshi organisations need to focus more on striking the work-life balance. This is missing in numerous workplaces, with offices open on Saturdays and employees having to stay back after office hours. It is important that the employees do not have to take their work home or that they are expected to work even after they return home."
Overall, workplaces that uphold the characteristics described above have a higher likelihood of being the top choice of young talents. These attributes create a positive work environment, which in turn increases job performance. Organisations need to recognise the value of these traits and allocate resources towards developing and maintaining them to remain competitive in today's job market.
The writer has completed BBA from the Institute of Business Administration, University of Dhaka. [email protected]