I think we all can agree the traditional norms of the workplace have been outdated for a long time. Unfortunately, if not for the pandemic we would still be working under stressful conditions for companies who only viewed employees as numbers. Past generations have dealt with this way of life for far too long. Working 2 to 3 jobs to make ends meet and never asking for a raise, dealing with toxic work conditions because they were too afraid of the unknown, and identifying burnout as positive reinforcement. This is not the way people were meant to live out their daily lives.
Growing up I watched my mother almost break herself trying to make a living for our family. I thought that was the way things were suppose be, so I took that same approach on my own career path. In the end, none of the sleepless nights or backbreaking 12-hour shifts paid off for either of us. Millennials and Gen Z are learning from their parents’ mistakes and will soon be calling the shots as they begin to take over the workforce. Making genuine and lasting changes for future generations. We’ll explore differences, similarities, and how the workforce can benefit from both generations.
Millennials are the largest generation to date. In an article by firstup, millennials will make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025. Meaning millennials will be the new leaders of the workforce, which may cause a shift in how the work culture evolves within a few years. But millennials have reimagined and enforced change within the workplace already. Demanding better pay and benefits, petitioning for work-life balance, and advocating for diverse work environments. And if employers are not willing to provide those things, millennials have no problem moving on to another employer that will.
As a millennial, I have learned from past mistakes and have chosen to leave different companies because 1) there was a better opportunity or 2) the company’s values no longer aligned with mine. Older generations have scolded millennials (as well as Gen Zers) for years. Assuming we’re lazy, entitled job hoppers with a low tolerance for hard work and dedication. But that’s simply not true. We just know the difference between working hard and being overworked. People, not just millennials, don’t want to work for dead end jobs where they’re not appreciated or unable to show their full potential.
According to Concordia University Saint Paul (a private university in St. Paul, MN), Gen Z is the most diverse generation with 48 percent being non-caucasian. A generation filled with headstrong individuals who know what they want and the moves they must take to get to their goal. Unlike millennials, Gen Z isn’t driven by money but by stability. They’re very aware of their spending habits and strive not to pile on debt like the generations before them. For instance, my 18-year-old niece got her first job last summer. Before her first check came, she opened a checking and savings account, shopped around for the best health insurance, and calculated how much money she needed to save to buy her first car. I was never that disciplined with money at her age. I just knew I wanted more of it. Even if that meant going over my credit limit. So glad those years are behind me.
One myth that plagues Gen Z is that they are technology driven. Yes, like millennials they were raised on technology, but they prefer in-person interaction. Millennials and Gen Z thrive on consistent feedback from their employers and co-workers. Allowing them to strengthen their confidence and skillsets, which in turn will build loyal employees.
The future of the labor force
Since the start of the pandemic, the workforce has changed dramatically in a small amount of time. Thanks to millennials demanding more from their employers and Gen Z being willing to bring innovative ideas to the table. These two generations are establishing a new workforce that no longer accommodates one side. For employers to attract this new wave of workers, they will need to make significant changes that caters to the newer generations view of how the work environment should operate. Storefront marketing and commercials are showcasing diverse visuals of plus-size models, people of different sexual orientations, and disabled people as a way of redefining what beauty really means, Remote work is considered an option and not an afterthought. Interviews are more balanced, and employers have become the interviewee.
Millennials and Gen Z are repairing and rebuilding the workforce for the better by being open to a new outlook and making space for one another. Millennials have had to abolish old habits from past generations and redevelop them into new concepts for new generations to better absorb. Giving Gen Z the support they need to strengthen their growth as a generation. Ultimately, creating a different pathway for feature generations to be able to add to the progress. I don’t know about you, but I think the future of the workforce is in good hands.