Whether you think they’re the worst generations or the thing that ever happened to the workforce, or anywhere in between, there’s no denying that Millennials and Gen Zers are influencing big changes in the workforce worldwide.
They may not be directly responsible for these changes, but the entrance of these newer batch of workers has served as little pebbles that started avalanches everywhere. These shifts and their subsequent effects, good or bad, are already being felt by anything from micro-businesses to mega-corporations.
But what exactly are these changes that coincided with the Millennials and the Gen Zers in the workplace?
Here are the top three most prominent examples.
Flexible Work Arrangements
Even before the pandemic, flexible working arrangements have already been gaining popularity. This involves anything from working remotely, to flexible hours, even to dressing down. The nine-to-five formula and the 40-hour work week have become somewhat outdated, especially in industries where the younger generations make up the majority of the employees.
There are a couple of reasons for this.
Technology has played a big role. Huge strides in information and communication technologies have allowed more streamlined collaborations even without being in the same room, or the same continent for that matter. Cloud services have also shifted projects to the internet, giving access to workers wherever they may be in the world – in virtual offices, at home in their pajamas, or sipping coconut water by the beach.
Another contributing factor is the fact that the younger generations simply love flexibility. These are people who actually acquire skills from the internet, at their own pace. They expect nothing less from their work. To their credit, organizations are also finding out that these arrangements are not hurting productivity. In fact, according to Forbes, these arrangements help workers to achieve more, get sick less often, work longer, more meaningful hours, and generally feel happier in their work. And that article is not just talking about the Millennials and Zers either.
Workers from younger generations generally want to know that they are working for an organization that they feel is socially responsible. Thanks, at least in part, to the internet, the world is in a state now where people are more aware of the difficulties that others are facing – whether these are starving children in third world countries or minorities not being given equal opportunities. Millennials and Zers are more inclined to hear them out and do something about it.
Inclusion is also another huge theme nowadays. These younger generations understand how diverse the world is, and they seek representation for everyone. Although the world is still arguably far from the utopia Dr. King dreamed of, it has come a long way in this regard.
This isn’t to say that PC, or politically correct, culture is always considered a positive thing by everyone. In fact, according to this article by The Atlantic, the mere mention of PC results in negative reactions for many. According to The Guardian, a lot of personalities have also described the younger generations to be overly sensitive when it comes to certain beliefs and practices. Only time will tell how these forces will play out.
Technology and Innovation
Looking at social media, which started out as a mainly millennial phenomenon, it’s obvious how trends in technology are spreading more rapidly and intensely because of how the younger generations are championing them. This is also true for innovations in the workplace.
Because of the younger generations’ understanding and overall appreciation of digital technologies, they have now become indispensable assets to organizations the world over. In many cases, digital marketing has overtaken traditional marketing in helping businesses, big or small, to generate leads and sales. Cloud services have revolutionized information and project management. Artificial intelligence is making its way into more mainstream applications.
Of course, Millennials and Zers aren’t the only ones responsible for these huge technological strides. But their presence in the workplace has significantly helped in facilitating and even justifying these improvements, at least on the onset.
Love them or hate them, there’s no denying how consequential Millennials and Gen Zers have been in the workplace. Whether they are directly or indirectly responsible for many of the changes mentioned here, it’s clear that they have been creators of change in so many ways.
However, whether these changes are good or less than ideal is still being decided by the consequences. For now, the world will have to wait and adapt to this rapidly changing landscape.
Just imagine what the next generation will bring to the table.