The world of business is very fast-paced and constantly changing. In today’s workplace, there are four notable generations: the baby boomers (those born between 1946 & 1964), Gen-X (1965 – 1980), Gen-Y or Millennials (1981 – 1995), and Gen-Zs (1996 – 2000s), with many of the baby boomers, gradually retiring, making room for more Gen-Zs in the workplace.
These four generations have experienced life differently, with the internet and technology playing a significant role in shaping opinions and attitudes. Thus, they share differing views on what organisational culture is and should be. Gen-Zs, the tech-savvy generation, are confidently and unapologetically disrupting workplace culture in their thought processes and how they measure job satisfaction.
Although Gen-Zs are currently at the bottom of the work pyramid, they will form the senior management team, leading business organisations in the next two-three decades. According to a recent publication by Forbes, by 2025, Gen-Zs will account for 27% of the workforce. In this regard, it is crucial for business organisations to understand the behavioural pattern of the multi-generational employees in today’s workplace to future-proof their businesses. The impact of the influx of more Gen-Zs into the workplace is that companies will be left to innovate and rethink how work is done.
Millennials and Gen-Zs Share Common Goals
As reported by Forbes from a 2021 Global 2021 Millennial and Gen-Z survey, 49% of respondents will only work for companies with a work culture that aligns with their values and are fit for purpose. Millennials and Gen-Z want the same thing; work-life balance, job security, a competitive salary, commensurate compensation & benefits, career advancement, personal development, and mental health priorities. Millennials initiated the work-life balance, but Gen-Zs are radically more assertive and candid in demanding and normalising it. Little wonder they’re commonly referred to as the ‘woke’ generation in some segments of the media.
How Gen-Zs are Shaping Today’s Workplaces
Gen-Zs are highly driven by their personal values and morals in and out of the workplace. For the typical Gen-Z, a competitive salary is a bare minimum. They are more concerned with work cultures that align with their morals while also giving them other benefits, such as flexible work models, mentorship, and access to mental health facilities. For Gen-Zs, mental well-being is not a case of either/or. Diversity and Inclusion are also becoming increasingly popular in workplaces as the emphasis on representation, acceptance, and a diverse pool of talents become prominent.
In other words, Gen-Zs prioritise inclusive employers (professional & personal development) and employers who are intentional about employee work-life balance.
What Does this Mean for Employers?
Following the pandemic, there’s been a global shift in workplace culture, which is now influenced by socio-cultural changes. We are in the era of the great resignation, so it is no longer business as usual but business unusual. Employers are forced to incorporate and implement these changes in their business culture to attract the growing Gen-Z workforce.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic struck, remote work has been popularised, and flexible and adaptable work models now characterise the future of work. Gen-Zs are redefining the status quo, and they are here to stay. This means that business cultures will be revisited, reviewed and/or implemented for a happy and productive employee, or organisations risk a high attrition rate.
Recently, global companies like Bolt and Buffer have implemented a four-day workweek, and other companies, including Unilever, are experimenting with this option to improve employee work-life balance. These iterations in the workplace prove that the workplace is rapidly evolving, and Gen-Zs, by their socially aware nature, are advocating that balance for the better should have been the norm.
On the other end of the spectrum, many baby boomers and leaders have expressed valid concerns about this workplace disruption by Gen-Zs. In this article by Remy Blumenfeld on Forbes, one of the criticisms of this disruption is that Gen-Zs are generally self-centred, unable to compromise, and emotionally unintelligent, especially regarding feedback. As candid and straightforward as they are, they crave feedback yet are sensitive to feedback that does not meet their expectations. Remy further reiterates that the ‘callout’ culture and the inability of the typical Gen-Z to compromise make them more difficult and sensitive to work with. The workplace thrives on collaboration for the greater good, so some compromises will have to be made.
While Gen-Zs are influencing the workplace, some key things will remain constant such as quality control processes and organisational values. Hence, business leaders need to consider the entirety of the spectrum in this evolving workplace in developing their corporate strategy as it relates to people.
The Place of Strategy in the Evolving Workplace
A business strategy guides how an organisation operates and adapts to change. It is integral to the success and sustainability of any organisation. Simply put, your business strategy is what gives your business a competitive edge over your competitor next door. Developing the right business strategy leading up to implementation takes immense effort. Hence your business strategy must be fit-for-purpose. In developing your business strategy, the three key things to reflect on are:
- What does your business represent?
- What does your business seek to achieve?
- Who will execute this?
A clear business objective will incorporate the answers to these questions; a good business strategy aligns with organisational culture. If Gen-Zs are a key part of the future of work, then organisational strategy must align with the evolving workplace culture.
Aligning your business strategy to organisational culture is essential to successfully execute that strategy, resulting in the growth of the business. This strategic alignment involves a collaborative effort between the different business units, teams, and individuals in an organisation to tie efforts to organisational culture and objectives.
Hence, while we’re rethinking business culture, employers should also be reviewing their business strategies as it relates to their people to avoid a disconnect in business operations. Ultimately, aligning your business strategy to organisational culture means that people, systems, processes, and technology sync with the intended strategic outcome.
When strategy and culture align, it drives innovation, increases performance, and pushes the business beyond limits.