The ways companies motivate their employees are changing, and a new generation of workers is the leading cause.
Although salary increases and health insurance benefits are valid and necessary motivators, the demands and expectations of 21st-century employees go far beyond these typical perks. These employees understand that time is their most precious commodity, and no longer do they agree to exchange it for money alone. Today’s professionals want jobs that resonate with their values and personalities, and they choose vocations that fit their lifestyles.
The changes in workforce composition, along with rapid technological advances and favorable economic conditions, dictate the need for new ways to motivate and maintain work teams and increase their productivity. While most employees today come from the millennial group, which comprises more than half of all those employed, a new wave is now coming from Generation Z. For companies to stay competitive in this ever-changing world, they need to employ new strategies for attracting and retaining talented professionals.
Important Facts About Today’s Workforce
- According to the consulting firm BridgeWorks, Generation Z is the largest generation in the United States and comprises 61 million people.
- A multigenerational survey by Monster Worldwide, Inc. found that 74 percent of Generation Z believes that their jobs should not only be financially rewarding but also meaningful.
- In Business Insider’s words, Generation Z is “the most diverse and inclusive generation yet.”
- The Deloitte Millennial Survey 2018 finds that job flexibility is a must for Generation Z workers to stay loyal.
How to Retain and Harvest Talent
While their values and expectations are not the same, millennials and Generation Z workers are both young and driven. They are also much more technologically savvy than their predecessors. Called technology natives, these individuals from Generation Z bring new talents and skills, which are now essential.
Any manager understands that adaptability is key. Managers have to rely on organization and management techniques to adeptly navigate change and help grow their companies. Indeed, attracting and keeping young professionals can help the organization stay ahead of the curve, or at least not fall behind. The challenge is appealing to these new employees, as this generation was raised during the recent recession and is pragmatic. To successfully transition through workforce changes and make teams larger and stronger in the coming years, managers need to learn just what makes today’s employees tick.
They Work and Live Purposefully
The new generation of employees does not want to settle for jobs that are just a job. Rather, they crave a sense of purpose in what they do and from being a part of something greater. Earning enough to pay the bills and buy things is no longer sufficient to keep these employees attached to their jobs. Being a valuable person to the company they work for and having opportunities to affect things on a greater scale is what drives today’s employees.
Managers have plentiful ways to make the work meaningful for their teams. For starters, they could revise their company’s mission statement to reflect a larger meaning that people can connect with. Another way to help team members feel that what they do matters is to create opportunities for learning and growth. Outlining a clear track for career growth is a must for these employees.
They Thrive in Diverse and Inclusive Environments
As the most inclusive and diverse generation, the Generation Z workforce expects the same type of diversity in the workplace. Compared to 69 percent of millennials, 81 percent of the newest generation grew up with at least one friend of a different race, says Business Insider.
Employers can promote diversity in various ways. There is no need for major restructuring or big and costly gestures. Celebrating different holidays is a great start. Even simple acknowledgment of certain religious dates that are important for some members of your team can go a long way.
Allocating a small area of the office as a mother’s room, for instance, might cost nothing and take minimal effort. But it could completely transform the office dynamics. With small gestures like this, businesses can make working mothers feel welcome and included and relieve them of making a hard choice between family and career. These types of interventions are “hidden gems,” as Harvard Business Review calls them ― undervalued but effective policies that provide practical solutions for minority groups.
They Demand Flexibility
Today’s employees have plenty of opportunities to work from anywhere in the world at any time they like. Often, all that’s needed is a computer and internet connection. People can choose location and hours to their liking ― whether it be a morning power hour at their favorite coffee shop, a day at a library, or a late-night session in the kitchen when the family is asleep.
No one is used to the convenience and flexibility that modern technology affords better than Generation Z. Born into technology, these individuals are tech wizards, many of whom learned how to make money right from their smartphones and tablets while they were teenagers.
Today, people are inspired by open and co-working spaces where they can move around freely and enjoy a change of scenery. They appreciate the environment’s ability to affect their mood and productivity and use it to their advantage.
Some ways to incorporate flexibility in a workplace is to offer employees flexible work hours, a flexible vacation policy, or a telecommuting option. If working from the office is mandatory, managers need to consider investing in the office environment. The office space should be inviting and comfortable so that employees enjoy being at work and feel productive.
They Work Best Autonomously
Rather than micromanaging employees’ every move, managers could give their teams a chance to show what they are capable of. If management trusts that employees can deliver, they will step up to the plate. After all, micromanaging only shows staff members how incompetent their boss thinks they are and is one of the sure ways to drive employees away. Instead, managers need to treat their teams as partners (because they are) and let them work autonomously.
It’s also good practice for management personnel to let their teams know how valuable they are. Sharing business goals with all employees gets everyone on board. If they don’t see the big picture, employees can become demotivated. They might perceive their work as meaningless and unimportant to the company’s success. This new work dynamic will help teams become more self-sufficient, only requiring guidance from managers from time to time.
To help employees become more engaged, managers could help their teams develop a sense of ownership by giving them important projects to work on and letting them see each project from start to finish.
They Want to Communicate Openly
For people to work productively and to tap into their potential, they need to feel safe and secure in the place where they work. That is why it is so important for managers to facilitate honesty and transparency in their working environments.
If team members don’t believe that management cares about what they say or think, their quality of work will suffer as a result. Even worse, the most valuable and faithful employees are likely to leave if they don’t feel that they add value to the company. To change this unfavorable dynamic, managers need to make sure that each employee can easily and freely contribute their ideas about any issues regarding the business. A suggestion box or a regularly held meeting are just some ways to start a dialogue between employers and employees.
They Need Regular Incentives
Regular incentives are a great tool for keeping teams motivated. However, managers need to think outside the box and incentivize their teams with more than yearly salary increases. Although everyone gets excited by a bigger paycheck, this excitement has a tendency to dwindle after a while. To maintain consistent motivation throughout the year, managers need to have a system in place to award regular incentives.
To stimulate teams to continuously produce great work, managers could organize fun activities to celebrate teams’ achievements. Extra time off shouldn’t be underestimated as a powerful motivator as well ― not only is it a great way to show appreciation, it will also help employees properly recharge and maintain a healthy work-life balance. Managers can show appreciation for their teams at each milestone, no matter how small or large it is, and treat them to dinner or drinks, or even a company vacation.
Advance Your Management Education
As the workforce is changing and the workspace is transforming, project managers might encounter some new challenges when interacting with their teams. They might realize that the old paradigm is no longer valid as the new generation of workers has a different set of values and brings novel experiences to the workplace.
To stay afloat in the coming years and to continue growing and developing, companies need to start thinking about the upcoming changes today. Besides adjusting their internal systems to create employee motivation, companies should also consider investing in the education of their current management personnel. Visit New England College to learn about the Master of Science in Management program and stay up to date on modern business trends and technologies.