While it’s true that Gen Z is the face of recent changes in business culture, studies reveal that this generation only makes up about 30% of the global workforce. In fact, there are currently five distinct generations in the workplace.
Compounded by economic uncertainty and a reluctance to retire too early, the reality is that generational and employee diversity has never been experienced to the extent that it is today. This is creating many different challenges for HR professionals and managers.
Firstly, different generations have differing views of the very nature of a career. Where once it was seen as a negative to move between jobs with relative fluidity, now it’s far more common – and accepted - for employees to move quickly between roles. Workers also have expectations that are growing and changing. They do not want to be taken for granted, and are calling on their employers to recognise their unique needs and engage.
As a result, diversity, equity and inclusion have become non-negotiable, and each generation brings with them specific workplace needs aligned with their gender, identity, culture, sexuality and more. For instance, clearly defined menopause policies are now being asked for from businesses globally, and there is a growing call for organisations to better support neurodiverse employees.
Movement is happening. For example, South Africa is looking into changing its paternity/parental leave to keep up with how Gen Z sees gender roles. Neurodiversity has also moved further up the workplace agenda, with a positive awareness of how neurodiversity can be genuinely beneficial to organisations.
Yet there is much more to be done, and the list of workplace priorities when managing increasingly diverse teams goes on. The fact is that employee management today requires a different approach and a more holistic blend of tech and human support.
So, HR professionals should be asking themselves not only how to use tech to engage a single younger generation, but how to unite everyone with tech as an enabler. Some areas to consider include:
Embedding technology in the day-to-day work life of employees to support and nurture a blend of talent in the workplace. Doing this will increase employee engagement by speeding up less meaningful tasks so staff can instead focus on the things that truly make a difference. For example, with the right technology, HR professionals can switch from admin to strategy – both for hiring and retention – boosting engagement, sharing perks, building real internal communities, and using technology to make their roles feel more human.
Considering technology that can support the move to flexible or hybrid working models. For example, using technology to effectively forecast labour requirements; creating and managing staff schedules to accomplish a particular task on a day-to-day and hour-to-hour basis.
Integrating experience management tools into organisations so employers can easily share things like wellness surveys or create bespoke company communities to enhance the feeling of connection.
Investing in workflow systems that show clearly how key projects are going – enabling teams to reduce redundant tasks, streamline task sequences, and be sure about the available resources for task completion.
It’s not overstating the facts to say that technology is one of the most powerful tools that organisations have in supporting diverse, inclusive and highly productive workforces. And as the global talent shortage continues and economic uncertainty shows no sign of abating, investment in digital solutions that can support personal values, no matter age or needs, is becoming business critical.
- Ceara Metcalf is the director of Payroll and HR Strategy at Sage