Future proofing organisations means attracting the next generation of talent and building sustainable resilience to challenge and change.
For the past year or more, since the beginning of the pandemic, HR professionals’ workloads have been understandably dominated by crisis-management.
Transitioning workers into home-working, furlough schemes, redundancies, creating Covid-safe workplaces, complex communication and engagement challenges, staff well-being, mental health and sickness; the list goes on when it comes to the challenges faced by HR leaders.
But we are now (hopefully) coming out the other side. Of course, there will still be Covid-related challenges as part of that return to normal.
But for businesses to achieve sustainable high performance, HR will need to renew their focus on the long term.
This means making their organisations appealing to the next generation of talent.
Pre-Covid, younger generations already had different priorities, expectations, and values in what they wanted from their working lives and therefore their employers.
But there is evidence the social impact of the global pandemic has deepened and accelerated this change.
And you can’t only consider the needs and desires of the talent you may need in the future. It’s about what your organisation is going to need and look like in the future too. This includes culture, values, customer experience and expectations, the competition, social and workplace trends, technology, and digitisation. The two elements cannot be separated.
Building the right culture will rely on your ability to attract and retain the right talent, and vice versa.
Research shows certain themes as being a high priority for millennials and Gen Zs.
Well-being and Mental Health
The Deloitte Global Survey showed stress and anxiety among millennials and Gen Zs to be extremely high. Shockingly 44% of millennials and 48% of Gen Zs reported feeling stressed or anxious some or all of the time. When questioned on their priorities, 48% of Gen Zs and 44% of millennials ranked mental health either first or second.
The reasons underpinning the level of mental health issues varied. But what’s clear is that employers cannot avoid this finding. Offering supportive environments in the future will be not a benefit, but a necessary part of company culture if a sustainable, high performing and loyal workforce is to be built.
Many employers have invested significantly in the mental health and well-being of their staff over the pandemic period, and these positive initiatives must continue.
As Emma Codd, Deloitte’s Global Inclusion leader concluded, “Employee mental health should be a priority for employers, if it’s not already… Stress is real. So is its impact on business and the economy. It’s time for business leaders to act.”
Many of the practices implemented by employers during the pandemic have been welcomed by Millennials and Gen Zs. Working from home for example, being able to avoid a stressful commute, the freedom to balance work with home priorities and even video conferencing in place of big journeys, have been stated as good for well-being and something employers should keep offering to attract talent in the future. In the Deloitte Millennials and Gen Z Survey, 60% said they would like the option of working from home more frequently post-Covid, with nearly the same number choosing video-conferencing over a commute.
This also chimes with 45% of respondents saying the welfare of their families is the biggest contributor to their feelings of anxiety.
50 of the biggest firms in the UK have now said they do not expect staff to return to offices full-time. Based on the research uncovered by Deloitte, this should make these firms more attractive employers and therefore competitive in the millennial and Gen Z talent acquisition market.
Learning and development
Training and development as a priority value for employees has seen a resurgence.
Evidence suggests this is due to fast moving technology, and concern among millennials that they aren’t equipped with the skills they’ll need in the future.
As the Enterprise Times highlights, high quality training may be harder for SMEs to deliver than for larger enterprises with bigger budgets and resources. But if SMEs are to attract and retain talent, it’s something they will need to factor into their talent management strategies.
The recently published LinkedIn Workplace Report 2021 clearly demonstrated the zeal of Gen Z for learning and upskilling. 76% of those interviewed regarded learning as key to their career progression.
As trainingzone.co.uk points out though, learning formats look very different for Gen Z to practices in other generations. They are highly tech savvy and consume content differently, for example clocking up 50% more hours watching online courses than learners from any other generation.
Purpose, community and responsibility
Latest surveys such as the comprehensive one carried out by Deloitte show how purpose before profit, social responsibility, and care for the environment, are increasing values in younger generations. This has been a trend for a number of years.
The pandemic has had a big influence, with evidence showing a greater sense of empathy and community than ever before. Millennials and Gen Zs are taking more personal responsibility and making mindful and proactive choices to protect the environment in their day to day lives.
They therefore want to see this reflected in the brands they support and for whom they work.
This means that for businesses, paying lip-service to some of these goals will not work. And it goes much further and deeper than CSR. To attract and retain talent, employers will need to show genuine commitment to actively improving the world, society and their local communities through their practices. It must be embedded in their culture.
An employer perceived to be a force for good, using its activities and presence to make the world a better place, will be more appealing to future generations of talent.
Benefits and opportunities
Many employers will need to evolve their cultures, re-evaluate working practices and embed new values. This will be an ongoing process, led by leadership and HR.
But it presents opportunities.
The Deloitte Report highlighted an increase in appetite for millennials and Gen Zs to stay longer with one employer. More said they’d like to stay five years, than quoted two years, in stark contrast to previous surveys of these audiences.
Pay may always be the single biggest priority for most people in a job search. But being able to offer a supportive, caring working environment, opportunities to learn and up-skill, and a purpose-driven culture, could help you become an employer of choice with a workforce of ambassadors.
The aftermath of the pandemic and new working arrangements may well further impact the next generations’ priorities. Businesses will need to keep abreast of talent surveys, trends, and staff feedback.
What’s clear is that becoming an attractive place for future talent will be key to achieving sustainable performance and building resilience. And the work needs to start now.Back to the lastest news