Post-pandemic, the flexibility Gen-Z has come to expect is part of a bigger picture: the challenging of old ways of working. How can businesses adapt to meet the expectations of young talent?
The pandemic has led to sweeping changes in the way we work, accelerating a shift in expectations that was already underway before anyone had ever heard of the word ‘lockdown’. As office-based jobs moved to kitchen tables and spare rooms, and meetings to Zoom, the next generation of workers looked on and took stock of what they really wanted from their working lives.
Post-pandemic, with many companies now having moved to a hybrid way of working, the flexibility Gen-Z has come to expect is part of a bigger picture: the challenging of old ways of working. To attract young talent, businesses must adapt to a new set of expectations. But what are they?
What Gen-Z wants
Luckily, it’s not guesswork; a raft of recent research provides plentiful insight into what Gen-Z wants from work. According to Gallup, Gen-Z and young millennials want to work for employers who care about their wellbeing, but also those who can demonstrate ethical leadership and who are diverse and inclusive. Indeed, research conducted this year by TalentLMs found that “77% consider it important that their company supports diversity, equity and inclusion efforts”.
Work should also be interesting, with Deloitte adding further colour to the picture by observing that, “While salary is the most important factor in deciding on a job, Gen-Z values salary less than every other generation: If given the choice of accepting a better-paying but boring job versus work that was more interesting but didn’t pay as well, Gen-Z was fairly evenly split over the choice.”
As a BBC article summarised, “Work-life balance, fair pay and value alignment: today’s youngest workers want it all – and are willing to walk away if they don’t get it.” Wellbeing is a key theme, and the flexibility for remote or hybrid work is a key part of that. This is supported by the TalentLMs research, which found that “82% of Gen-Zers surveyed want mental health days … and 74% would opt for either hybrid or totally remote work.”
Gen-Z need office time
Of course, office time is still important for Gen-Z, with flexibility giving them the best of both worlds. Early in their careers, the importance of in-person learning from seniors and peers cannot be underestimated, with valuable skills often picked up by direct observation or osmosis (listening to the telephone manner of more experienced colleagues, for instance) is in a way not possible via scheduled chats on Zoom or Teams.
What’s more, depending on their living arrangements, younger people may find it more difficult to establish a good homeworking set-up, particularly in a shared house. Not only that, but with less experience of managing the boundaries of work and life, that coveted work-life balance may be harder to achieve when there’s no physical office to leave at the end of the day. Isolation may be an issue too, with smaller professional networks and more difficulty growing them from a remote role.
That’s where the flexible workspace offers the perfect solution. Close to home and with a professional set-up, flexible workspaces give young employees the experience of office life on their terms, complete with the opportunity for networking with like-minded people and colleagues. If they then also spend part of their week at HQ connecting, collaborating and bonding with colleagues, they no longer miss out on the company culture that they crave, while still enjoying a more flexible working life.
Finding the balance
What’s needed, then, is balance. Not enough office time could see Gen-Z miss out on developing crucial skills and struggle to grow their professional networks. Not enough flexibility and they may leave. Indeed, according to a recent survey by management consulting company McKinsey, employees aged 18 to 34 were 59% more likely to say they would quit their current role to move to a job with flexible working compared with older employees aged 55 to 64.
This is corroborated by IWG research, which reveals that millennial hybrid workers are the generation most likely to look for another job if their employer stopped allowing hybrid working and expected full-time office attendance (53%).
Hybrid strikes the perfect balance. It meets the rising expectations of Gen-Z and enables the work-life balance and independence they crave, while also giving them ‘office time’ to learn and manage their work routine. Offering flexible working conditions via a hybrid model is therefore the best approach for businesses wanting to attract young talent.
Discover how IWG can help your company move towards a hybrid model, with advice on your workplace strategy and access to 3,500 flexible workspaces worldwide.