The Next Generation Workforce: Managing Diverse Expectations

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Do you know? These are the times when you have to forget your old rules about workforce management and adopt new strategies to cater to the needs of a diverse team. You will witness fresh faces but with different expectations as this new type of workforce is a mix and match of people belonging to different generations.  

What has changed the workforce demographics in the past few years? The rapid increase in globalization and technological advancements are two prominent factors that have changed the demographics in work environments. For example, the baby boomers are retiring, the millennials and zoomers constitute the labor sector, while the other gens are in the learning phase.   

How are you as a manager going to cope with this mixture of work teams? Here is a sneak peek into what the Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials, and Gen Zers expect from a work environment and how the management can prepare themselves for it.  

A Need To Fulfill The Expectations Of Next Generation Workforce 

In most places of the world, the demographics of workforces have already shifted, while some places are undergoing this shift. The company should understand that the influx of younger generations has different expectations from the workplace and have different work values. Their motivation to work differs from the previous workforce generation. The answer to why a company needs to fulfill these expectations lies in its desperation to stand as a leader in the competitive market.   

One of the biggest reasons why is to retain top talent and maintain useful human assets. For example, companies know that Millennials and Gen Z are now the dominant forces in the workplace and they have a few needs and desires that keep them going. If they fail to cater to these needs and desires they will become unattractive to this pool of the best and brightest minds.  

On the other hand, research by McKinsey & Company shows that Gen Z is full of business-minded people who have a dominant nature. If companies provide them flexibility and autonomy to make decisions or have a say in the decision making process they will be able to attract this talent pool. This pool will bring creative ideas and solutions with tech-savviness to the table.  

The Difference Of Expectations 

Today, every workplace you come across will have people from all age groups, and we call it the next-generation workforce. This workforce will have different experiences in life, set different values, and expect different things from the company. Let’s discuss a little about them: 

Baby Boomers (Born 1946-1964) 

The nature of baby boomers is fixated on their strong work ethics, making them perfect job people. Besides, they are known for their dedication, values, loyalty, stability, and clear career paths. This generation is not so tech-savvy as they are comfortable with face-to-face communication and avoid virtual meetings. They love the structured work environment. 

 How much do they value their work, and how dedicated is this generation? Well, in simple words, we would say that Boomers can willingly put in long hours of work until the work is done. They are the most reliable assets a company can have. But remember that they will never miss a better opportunity because they have a clear career path.  

 

What do they expect? Boomers are bloomers in traditional workplaces and take their responsibilities very seriously. Since they respect the management hierarchy and stay loyal to them, they expect the same loyalty from the management. They make sacrifices for the company and expect the company to play a role in ethics. Studies show that only 33% of boomers prioritize flexibility when considering a job. That means flexibility is not a big deal for the remaining 67%. 

Generation X (Born 1965-1980) 

Gen Xers are not as rigid with their work ethics as the boomers. They are the most flexible workforce a company might have. This generation of people is known for being independent and resourceful, and above all, they are the ones who initiated the concept of work-life balance and flexible schedules. Unlike the boomers, they are comfortable with technology but may not be as tech-dependent as younger generations.  Generation X

Gen X is very similar to the millennials as they prioritize their work-life balance and expect the company to respect their mindset. However, the evolution didn't hit their love for careers because, like the boomers, they also loved autonomy and control over their careers. When it comes to communication, they love clear and concise emails.  

 What do the Gen Xers expect? This generation is full of experienced employees who expect their employers to appreciate and value their experience in terms of feedback, ideas, etc. They love working independently and hate micromanagement. By working independently, we don’t mean that they are not good as a team. In fact, a survey shows that around 52% of Gen Xers love teamwork, while the remaining prefer working solo.  

Millennials (Born 1981-1996) 

The millennials make up the largest generation of the workforce today. It is best to keep this generation in your workforce because they are digital natives who are highly adaptable to technology. They are up for team collaborations and continuous learning and expect the company to promote personal development. 

 What do Millennials expect? They expect the employer to give them feedback and provide an environment where they can openly communicate. What makes them better than Gen X is that they are 25% more likely to adapt than Gen Xers because they love learning in advance. They expect their managers to let them handle the problems independently as they have done their homework already. Millennials, being the largest contributors to the workforce, were 56 million in numbers in 2017, and they expect much less from employers.   

 Millennials

Generation Z (born 1997-2012) 

These are the newest entrants to the workforce. Gen Z is known for being highly tech-savvy and entrepreneurial mindsets. Why are they so special to the workforce? This generation of the workforce is the most socially adept one. They value the concept of social responsibility and authenticity from their employers. They are somewhere influenced by Gen X as they also cherish and desire a work-life balance. In one way, they are like millennials. They look for opportunities for personal development and keep on improving their skills. Also, Gen Z is comfortable with a mix of communication methods, including social media platforms. 

What does Gen Z expect from the managers? Gen Z highly values their healthy work-life balance, and they won’t compromise on it. They expect the managers to offer flexibility like remote opportunities and rotating schedules. They are comfortable working in unconventional hours. As a matter of fact, 77% of Gen Z  prioritize work-life balance. They further expect options for skill development, and since they have a business mindset, they expect the company to value their opinions. When it comes to tech, they are hyper-connected and expect a tech-driven environment.  

Rethinking Diversity and Inclusion

Gen Z candidates define diversity more broadly than previous generations. They see it as a mix of experiences, identities, ideas and opinions, rather than just demographics like age, religion, gender, and race. This cognitive diversity is crucial for innovation and problem-solving.
To appeal to Gen Z, companies need to create collaborative environments that value open participation from people with different perspectives. Diversity  is no longer just about respectfully integrating underrepresented groups, but about leveraging diverse viewpoints to drive business success.

Demonstrating Authentic Commitment

Gen Z candidates are highly attuned to whether companies are walking the walk on diversity and inclusion. 83% say a company's commitment to D&I is important when choosing an employer. To attract and retain this generation, companies must demonstrate authentic commitment through concrete actions. This includes:

Assessing Diversity Data

  • Conduct regular assessments of diversity data to identify gaps in the talent pipeline.
  • Use this data to inform targeted recruitment and retention strategies that promote diversity and inclusion.

Addressing Cultural Issues

  • Proactively address any cultural issues that could undermine inclusion efforts within the organization.
  • Foster a culture of respect, openness, and inclusivity through training, policies, and leadership examples.

Showcasing Diverse Representation

  • Ensure diverse representation in employer branding and marketing materials.
  • Highlight diverse employees, stories, and initiatives to showcase the company's commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Empowering Employee Resource Groups

  • Support and empower employee resource groups and diversity councils.
  • Provide resources, funding, and leadership support to enable these groups to drive meaningful change within the organization.

Holding Leaders Accountable

  • Hold leaders accountable for D&I goals and outcomes.
  • Tie D&I metrics to performance evaluations and incentives to ensure leadership commitment and accountability.

The Future of Work is Diverse

The workforce of the future will be more diverse than ever before. Demographic shifts in the United States mean that minorities will drive growth in the youth, working-age population, voters, consumers, and tax base for the foreseeable future. 

This increasing diversity presents both challenges and opportunities for employers. Companies that prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) will be better positioned to attract top talent, foster innovation, and serve diverse customer bases. Studies show that diverse teams are more innovative and better at solving complex problems. Diverse organizations are also more likely to have above-average profitability compared to less diverse peers.

However, realizing the benefits of diversity requires a concerted effort to create an inclusive workplace culture. Leaders must challenge biases in hiring and promotion, provide diversity training, and ensure equal access to opportunities throughout the employee lifecycle. Inclusive leadership that embraces different perspectives and empowers all employees to contribute is key.

Remote work can enhance diversity efforts by enabling companies to recruit from a broader geographic pool of candidates. But diversity alone is not enough - organizations must also focus on improving inclusivity, the degree to which employees feel embraced and empowered. Providing support systems, open communication, and consistent feedback are essential for retaining a diverse workforce.

The future of work is demonstrably diverse. This shift presents a golden opportunity, but to truly capitalize, organizations must prioritize Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI).  Leaders who champion DEI dismantle unconscious biases and cultivate inclusive cultures.  This creates an environment where everyone feels valued and empowered to contribute their unique skills and perspectives.  The companies that embrace this transformation will be the ones best positioned to innovate, grow, and thrive in the face of an ever-changing and diverse world.

How To Manage The Diverse Workforce Expectations? 

HOW TO MANAGE THE DIVERSE WORKFORCE EXPECTATIONS

Prioritize Communication

Effective communication is essential for managing a diverse workforce. Policies, procedures, and important information should be designed to overcome language and cultural barriers by translating materials and using pictures and symbols whenever applicable. Leaders must ensure that all employees understand the expectations and goals of the organization, and that they are empowered to share their thoughts and experiences.

Treat Each Employee as an Individual

Avoid making assumptions about employees based on their gender, race, ethnicity, or any other aspect of their identity. Instead, focus on understanding each employee as an individual and judge successes and failures on their merit rather than their background. This approach fosters a culture of tolerance, open communication, and conflict management strategies to address issues that may arise.

Encourage Collaboration and Feedback

Collaborative expectations are critical for managing diversity in the workplace. Set clear goals and expectations, and then empower employees to work together to achieve them. This approach not only promotes teamwork but also encourages employees to learn from one another and develop a deeper understanding of different cultures and ways of working.

Eliminate Preference by Creating Standard Rules

Creating standard rules and procedures that apply to all employees is essential for promoting equity and fairness. This includes standard job descriptions, fair hiring processes, and performance evaluations based on clear and objective criteria. Standard rules provide a sense of structure and predictability, reducing anxiety and improving job satisfaction.

Be Open-Minded

Leaders must be open-minded and willing to learn from their diverse workforce. Recognize that one’s own experience, background, and culture are not the only ones with value to the organization. Encourage employees to share their perspectives and provide feedback, and be willing to adapt and grow from this diverse input.

Hire Talent from a Variety of Backgrounds

Hiring talent from a variety of backgrounds is crucial for promoting diversity and inclusion. Ensure that hiring processes  are fair and objective, and that all employment actions follow standardized criteria to ensure each employee is treated the same. This approach not only enhances diversity but also brings a wealth of different perspectives and experiences to the table.

Create a Culture of Inclusion

Creating a culture of inclusion is critical for managing diversity in the workplace. This involves promoting transparency and dialogue, celebrating individuality, encouraging diverse teams, and training staff to welcome diversity. By fostering an inclusive environment, organizations can unlock the benefits of diversity and create a more productive and cohesive workforce.

Managing a diverse workforce requires a steadfast commitment from leadership to create an inclusive workplace culture where everyone feels valued, respected, and supported. This means fostering open communication, celebrating individual strengths, and encouraging collaboration.  By setting clear rules for fairness, embracing different perspectives, and actively seeking out diverse talent, companies can harness the power of a diverse workforce and thrive in our ever-changing business world.

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