Mind the age gap – how young people are driving changes in employee expectations09.08.22
A new generation of workers has a new set of demands – and employers need to listen if they want to attract and retain this discerning demographic
Chief Innovation Officer
The changes in the expectations of the post-pandemic employee base are being driven by younger generations of workers who know what they want and when they want it. Employers are now in a position to shape their policies and streamline their rewards and benefits offerings to adapt to the requirements of employees in this new world of work.
We already know that the Millennials and Gen Z are more tech-savvy than previous generations, so it’s no surprise to find that they expect cutting-edge systems to facilitate more efficient work processes. According to the figures from our latest report, 47% of under 40s want better, faster and more cohesive tech compared to 31% of those 40 years and over.
Similarly, the advent of hybrid working post-pandemic has meant that working spaces and work hours are an important factor in employee engagement for the under 40s. In fact, younger workers are more likely to view flexibility as a right, but even amongst those under 40, the majority still see it is a privilege for an employer to give them choice over where and how they work. Our report: ‘Great Expectations: Understanding drivers and needs in the new world of work’ highlighted this with over half (51%) of under 40s saying this was important to them compared to just over a third (34%) of over 40s. Location flexibility was also a critical factor with 49% of under 40s wanting options for where they work, while 37% of over 40s don’t see this as a pressing concern.
Wellbeing continues to top the charts
Having been a preoccupation during the pandemic, wellbeing continues to top the list of must-haves for employees across the board, but the younger generation’s expectations around the level and quality of support employers are providing to protect and enhance wellbeing have risen the most. Without access to many of the usual touchpoints which can support wellbeing – such as social gatherings with friends and family, going to the gym or seeing a therapist or wellbeing consultant – people have looked to their employers for support. In fact, over half (51%) of younger workers think this should be a priority compared to just 31% of over 40s.
Keep them sweet
Another area that employers would do well to concentrate on is the benefits and reward packages they offer, tailoring them to the specific age demographics. Being able to tie them to wellbeing perks, as well as relevant and targeted schemes are the ones that will get buy-in and ultimately boost the employee experience. The figures showed that for the under 40s:
- 43% say a relevant benefits package is important to them
- 44% want to be recognised for the work they do is important
- 42% want an employer that aligns with their personal values
Younger workers are also increasingly looking to their employers to offer better benefits, provide recognition for the work that they do, and to operate in a way that aligns with their own personal values.
These findings demonstrate that many of the heightened demands being placed on employers are stemming from younger workers. Evidently, employers need to recognise that these rising expectations are unlikely to fade away over time; new generations of workers have very different ideas about what employers should be doing to support them, both in and outside work, and the likelihood is that their needs will continue to evolve over time.
Gethin is an award-winning psychologist who has been helping some of the world’s largest organisations to improve their employee experience and wellbeing for more than two decades. The last 11 years have been spent working as part of the senior leadership team at Benefex where Gethin leads thought leadership as Chief Innovation Officer.
As a frequent writer and speaker on employee experience and employee wellbeing, Gethin has been featured in Forbes, The Guardian, The Sun, The Huffington Post and The Financial Times as well as all major HR, Reward and Pensions publications. Gethin has been listed as one of the world’s top 101 Global Employee Experience Influencers for the last two years running, is listed on the Employee Engagement Powerlist, is one of LinkedIn’s top global contributors and an Inspiring Leader 2021. Gethin is also a regular keynote speaker, ex-Chair of Wellbeing at the UK Government-backed Engage for Success and a Fellow at the RSA.
In 2018, Gethin published his first book - the HR bestseller ‘A World of Good: Lessons From Around the World in Improving the Employee Experience’, which has gone on to inspire HR and Reward teams at some of the world’s best known brands. In early 2022, Gethin co-authored his second book ‘Das Menschliche Büro - The Human(e) Office’ a collaboration between leading academics and workplace professionals from across Europe. In October 2022, Gethin published his “third” book ‘A Work In Progress: Unlocking Wellbeing to Create More Sustainable and Resilient Organisations’ which also became an immediate bestseller.