Life & Work

A profile of a millennial and Gen Z employee


Holistic wellness, which refers to an approach to life that focuses on the physical, mental, emotional, social, spiritual, and financial well-being of an individual is the new rulebook. PHOTO | SHUTTERSTOCK

Picking from the time millennials entered the workplace and the changes that have shaped the space for the last 10-15 years, it has been a steep learning moment.

It has enabled companies to understand talent as a package.

This led to companies repackaging well-being programmes to attract and maintain a group that needed to be heard and sought to challenge the status quo.

When we onboard talents, we take the available opportunities to relook at how we do things but we fail to call out the frequency of those changes and the levels it takes for a review of policies.

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This is because businesses require stability and minimal disturbances around the basic structure, something millennials are realising after five years of working but Gen Zs cannot fathom the need or why anything should be stable while it needs disruption.

When millennial needs and wish lists are disallowed, they suddenly deflate and activate the quiet quitting.

Coming in with hopes and energies to translate and try their minds in big systems and out for glorious results. A group that is highly allergic to “Not Approved”, and “Declined”.

As soon as they experience those words instant disengagement is noted and we see quiet quitting as a situation in which an employee is still working with you only because they have to pay bills but the strength of emotional and physical connection to the workplace is thinning out.

Systemic frustrations most times are innocent and not intentional as we think that new staff with time will get to know how “things happen around here” and come to the realisation of how policies, stubborn as they are remains the pillar of sustainability and stability of the business.

Before even we fully cure the demands millennials come with, we are faced with another volatile profile Generation Z, a group that fully owns their minds and time.

They prefer commitments around the results and the picture of success, but never on how those results will be realised.

They want to try a different way of working in the morning and another completely new thought in the afternoon.

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They wonder and are not silent about why they need a line manager to call out the due process checks on them every single day.

If we have to attract and retain this profile then we have to activate a serious discussion on how we do things, the toolset and autonomy and still let them keep their minds and time, that is, they can still engage in part-time gigs to refresh and get rid of monotony.

“Suppose we align on what we will call the basic structure around the due process, a basic structure that is not amendable until the law changes but we allow flexibility to accommodate mutating thoughts?” one Gen Z asked.

Gen Z is driving most workplace trends and going into the future, statistics by The Great Place to Work Insights show that the current population of Gen Z at the workplace is 20 per cent, a neck-to-neck competition with the millennials who are at 22 per cent — that’s a whopping 47 per cent of not ordinary employees heading to around 65 per cent in the next 10 years.

A business that will transact well in the next 10 years has worked on the questions to attract and retain these special profiles, how long will the policies hold?

And is there a way around keeping them active and engaged for a foreseeable future?

A good thing is that when we find a way to be inclusive in form and shape, accommodating these profiles with wild thoughts by putting in place structures to calibrate such thoughts then the company will start winning as even the two profiles make up a bigger segment of consumers.

When you see the managers of many corporates’ social media handles and the way they easily chat and respond to consumers with humour, it shows that there is a new generation that had their way in the workplace.

The faster you create space the better before opportunity costs outweigh the business.

The author is the group human resources manager at Shared Services.