Event report

HR Club: Gen Z and Millenials – redefining relationships in the workplace

Gen Z and Millennials: managing the new employer/employee relationship

A new generation of employees is entering the job market, bringing its own particular set of expectations and challenges – so how should companies be adapting in response?

At their first meeting of 2023, members of our HR Club found out more about this issue from experts Serge da Motta Veiga of EDHEC Business School and Adrien Suquet and Rose Chatterley of General Mills.

Missed the event? Read on for our summary of the main points discussed.

What’s the deal with young professionals?

Young professionals are often understood to have a specific set of demands and aspirations, but in practice these are not vastly different to those of previous generations of employees.

By 2025, millennials (those born between around 1981 and 1996) will make up 39% of the workforce, whilst Generation Z (born roughly between 1997 and 2012) will represent 23%. By 2030, the figure for millennials will have jumped to 70%.

72% of young workers say they have regretted a new job after starting, whilst 20% say they will quit a new job within a month if it does not live up to their expectations. 41% will stay in a job for no longer than four to six months before deciding to quit.

On average, Gen-Z employees stay in a new job for two years and two months. This is less than the average for Generation X (five years) and Baby Boomers (eight years).

Why do millennials leave jobs?

An overwhelming majority (75%) of millennials believe that organisations are only concerned with their own good. News stories about corporations sacking employees en masse only serve to reinforce this perception.

The new generation of employee is less naïve than previous ones and more likely to see through things like greenwashing and empty promises about CSR. Only 47% of millennials believe that business leaders want society to improve.

What can organisations do about this?

Young professionals are generally understood to have several key demands of their employers, including:

  • Good work-life balance
  • Flexible working models
  • Opportunities for learning and development
  • Opportunities to progress in their career paths
  • Competitive pay and benefits
  • A positive workplace culture
  • Social responsibility
  • A sense of meaning from work
  • Job security

However, it is vital for leaders to talk directly to their employees if they want to get a clearer idea of their demands.

Young professionals want to improve: 94% will stay in a job if it actively invests in helping them learn and develop. Companies therefore need to be constantly agile and highly attentive to what matters most at any given time. Developing robust training and leadership programmes is essential to retaining these employees. This can include schemes like internal apprenticeship programmes or regular career coaching sessions.

To give employees more flexibility, companies can introduce initiatives like regular days or time slots without any meetings, during which employees are free to pursue their own personal development projects. People often have their best ideas when they are not hyper-focused.

Rethinking the hiring and application processes

Too often, companies think about recruiting people for specific roles rather than thinking about how well they will match the company culture. They ought to match employees to a job based on their ability once they are already inside the organisation. Companies can create internal marketplaces to match projects to specific employee skillsets.

At the same time, younger employees should focus on looking for a company rather than a job – or even an industry. Each company has its own way of doing things. Studying for a degree with a specific career in mind can often leave people disappointed.

Finally, the new generation of employees needs to be mentored. For all their grievances with older professionals, millennial and Gen-Z workers could do well to learn from the expertise that more experienced workers have built up.



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