Well, the world has been changed, and no one knows how permanent this change will be, but we know that for sure some of the changes are here to stay. Even in a pre Covid world, attracting the next generation to your work force had major challenges, and with the advent of the Covid world, those challenges have become more pertinent to now, the timeline has been moved up.
The older workforce that was thinking of retiring in the next 5-10 years, is now thinking of retiring now, with many taking offered severance packages. Granted this does lighten the burden on companies in the short term, but eventually, to be successful companies will need those vacated roles filled again, and the succession plan has a gap. The mindset of the younger workforce is demonstrably different than that of their older counterparts. They have different priorities, and rightly so, the job market they face is very much different than when their parents were entering the work force.
Generation X (those born between 1965 and 1980) is already firmly entrenched in the work force, but even that generation is poised to retire soon. So attracting and retaining the next generation is critical.
Millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996) already make up half of the work force, and by 2025 that number will increase to 75 percent minimum. With changes forced by Covid that is a very conservative number. Some industries focused on technical innovation are already seeing Millennials making up 2/3 of their industry.
Generation Z (those born 1997 to 2012) is just now entering the workforce, bringing with them another set of priorities.
So what can companies do to attract Millennials and Gen Z talent?
Here are a few tips!
- Offer Flexibility! Both Millennials and Gen Z value flexibility and seem to have less ties to locations, desiring an ability to work where they want and when they want. Flex schedules, contractors/freelance vs. fulltime, and performance over in-office presence are all ways to refocus the company’s needs while still getting the job done.
- The next generation values benefit packages almost more than total compensation—getting creative with perks can be a big draw and indicate to the younger workforce that the company cares about their needs in a novel way. Examples include maternity and paternity benefits, student loan repayment, tuition reimbursement, pet insurance, gym memberships or gyms on site, child daycare assistance/availability on site, and pet friendly workspaces.
- Company culture and focus is another way that millennials and Gen Z can be attracted—these younger generations are much more concerned with the company’s social and environmental footprint, so they look for companies with a Diversity and Inclusion program as well as a Corporate Social Responsibility program.
- Be digitally progressive. Millennials and Gen Z have grown up in a digital world, and don’t want to work for companies that don’t keep up with the times. Having an innovative website and easy digital access can assure that next generation that they are working for an innovative company.
- Focus on engagement and career development. These younger generations want to be ensured that their role is within their preferred career path and are less bound by loyalty, so they regard succession planning and career development as necessary—not providing that internally will make them look outside of their current company. Engagement is one of the most pressing challenges facing companies, and lack of engagement contributes to high turnover. Use digital sources to help—social media engagement can humanize senior leadership and forecast the company values and highlights.
- Communication is key! Transparency of company goals increases employee engagement, allowing for two-way conversations and feedback, all of which are priorities for Millennials and Gen Z.
- Work-Life Balance is one of the top priorities for the younger generation. They want to be able to have a life outside of work, so look for companies that recognize that employees having a balanced life improves work performance.
We don’t know if all the challenges and changes will be permanent, but companies that adapt and look to the future will retain a skilled work force to help them have a better chance at success!
Written By Debbie Caldwell, Animal Health Recruiter