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Tagged with: Disengaged Employees, Positive Employee Relations
When you think of the employee experience and organizational culture, it's likely the first thought concerns things like improving the employee lifecycle or the employee journey through pay, benefits, work design, and experience of their leaders. It's not likely about the subtle and not-so-subtle conflict between generations. Yet, the multigenerational workforce is experiencing new gaps growing wider as time passes. One is the gap between Millennials and Gen Z and senior management, who are mostly Baby Boomers. Another is the gap between Millennials and Gen Z. The gaps are communication gaps and gaps in expectations of work, the workplace, and organizational culture. These gaps are contributing to the increase in employee resignation and the continued "Great Resignation."
The Hinge Research Institute conducted a study to help pinpoint why one in five employees changed jobs or resigned in the prior year. Most of the employees were in the mid-career of their employee lifecycle. The eye-opening results uncovered a wide gap between senior management's perspective on the corporate culture and the perspective of mid-career employees, mostly Millennials.
For the study, many mid-career millennials were in manager, supervisor, and project lead positions. Leadership positions were directors, senior directors, partners, and vice presidents. Senior executives were C-suite level, president, managing partner, founder, and principal positions. Following are some of the revealing results of the study.
Some of the other reasons employees switched or quit their jobs included work was unfulfilling (45 percent); wanted better work-life balance (36.7 percent); wanted a higher salary (36.7 percent); and didn't like co-workers or there was a non-collaborative team environment (30 percent).
The employees who were dissatisfied with the culture said they were not treated with respect by peers (89 percent); were not comfortable sharing thoughts with leadership (88 percent); were not getting the experience to grow a career (84 percent); couldn't be their self at work (83 percent); found lack of transparency in leadership (79 percent); and believe there is unequal treatment of people of different genders, religions, and races (78 percent). A full 67 percent said they don't get adequate training.
There are plenty of other surveys that support the Hinge findings. For example, LinkedIn's Global Talent Trends Report found that job seekers view almost twice as many job posts before applying, and the ones mentioning culture get more likes, shares, and comments. People are focused on flexibility and wellbeing and want to work in a human-centered company culture.
An IBM study found that four out of five executives believed they were supporting the physical and emotional health of their workforce. Only half of the employees agreed. "To compete in a future defined by disruption and created by crisis, executives need to engage what's known as emotional intelligence or their emotional quotient (EQ)."
There are differences between Millennials and Gen Z. For example, flexibility is an employee engagement strategy for younger employees, and Generation Z has specific ideas as to what flexibility and the employee experience mean. In the Global Talent Trends Report mentioned earlier, the difference in engagement on a company post mentioning flexibility relative to the average company post was 77 percent for Generation Z and 30 percent for Millennials. In the same study, 66 percent of Gen Z wanted an organizational culture built on mental health and wellness, and 51 percent of Millennials wanted it.
The oldest Millennials are now moving into leadership positions. As Gen Z becomes a larger portion of the workforce, they are rapidly bringing their unique perspectives about organizational culture and the role of leadership into the workplace. Gen Z is even more activist than Millennials, so many are pursuing unionization and demanding organizational social, and not just environmental, responsibility. They are conscious consumers who deeply care about what their work produces. The global 2021 Multigenerational Workforce Study reports the following about Gen Z.
Notice that Gen Z is very focused on organizational culture and leadership styles. Employee resignation is a viable option for Gen Z when leadership doesn't have soft skills, and the organization is not human-centered.
A toxic culture impacts all generations of workers. No company wants a toxic culture, but it can develop through leadership negligence. A toxic workplace is one in which employees don't have a voice, work for managers who violate their trust, can't achieve work-life balance because of work rules, aren't recognized or rewarded, and can't participate in an internal mobility process. Employees are second to customers. There is poor communication throughout the employee experience.
The global 2021 Multigenerational Workforce Study found that 68 percent of Gen Z surveyed think Baby Boomers will be the most challenging to work with. The number goes up to 80 percent if employed. They believe Baby Boomers don't understand technology, are old-fashioned and resistant to change, elitist, and hierarchal. The number one challenges they face in the workplace are:
Millennials are sometimes at odds with Baby Boomers. The Multigenerational Study found that only 57 percent of Baby Boomers believe having four generations (Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, Gen Z) in the workplace makes it more productive. Millennials find the challenges in the workplace to be:
Rachele Focardi conducted a lot of interviews for the book Reframing Generational Stereotypes. She quotes Mark, an executive, who says this about Gen Z, "They do not listen to us. They don't seem to appreciate the importance of life-long experience. They believe our ideas are out-of-date. They can come in quite strong with new ideas that are value-driven but often lack depth, yet they won't take no for an answer."
Focardi says Millennials are also intimidated by Gen Z due to "Gen Z's confidence, ability to learn quickly, and ease with which they navigate new technologies…" Millennials fear it will be difficult to keep up. Millennials in mid-management are also worried that Gen Z will step into leadership roles much faster, interfering with their career plans.
A study by Olivet Nazarene University on the relationship between Millennials and Baby Boomers found that 91 percent of Millennials believe Baby Boomers are loyal to their employers, and 60 percent of Baby Boomers believe that about Millennials. The reality is that 84 percent of Millennials and 75 percent of Baby Boomers are willing to quit their jobs. The reasons for employee resignation are very similar.
Thirty (3) percent of Millennials believe they are held back by an older leader, and 25 percent have quit their jobs because of an older manager or colleagues. Thirty-six (36) percent of Millennials say they quit because of a Millennial leader.
In reading all these statistics, it might seem as if Gen Z is much more likely to consider employee resignation, but it is generational differences between all the generations that are creating a challenging work environment. For your leaders, the challenge is developing a respectful human-centered culture in which differences are leveraged and celebrated, and all employees have a strong voice.
How can your leaders prevent employee resignation? It's not as difficult as you might think to begin. The Hinge Research Institute study found that employees want their employee experience to include more human interactions. This is not surprising after a two-year pandemic in which so many employees worked remotely and were cut off from in-person interactions on a formal and informal basis. Though Zoom meetings were needed, they can't fully replace face-to-face meetings, proverbial watercooler conversations, stop by someone's desk interactions, and social gatherings.
Following are eight ideas for changing the "I quit" culture to the "I stay" culture:
This is a lot of statistics and information. If it had to be summed up in a few words as to how organizations can build a workplace culture that supports a multigenerational workforce, it would be this: "Offer more flexibility, and pay close attention to and address employee mental health and all that involves." Employees resign when they don't have a voice, no matter how young or old they are, and managers don't care about their inter-generational conflicts as long as the company makes a profit.
The older generation believes that the younger generations need to follow their lead in management style. The younger generations believe that the older generation is too rigid and no longer a good fit in the modern workplace. You can start building an organizational culture that embraces all generations by adding opportunities for employees to transparently and authentically express their voice without fear of backlash as part of their employee experience.
A survey reported by Bloomberg involved 72 executives employing 400,000 people. It found that 63 percent of them said millennials are most likely to quit, and 32 percent said Gen Z was more likely. Either way, it is a large turnover rate. The past two years have highlighted "a growing disconnect between head office and their frontline," said Mark Williams, EMEA managing director at WorkJam, the software company that carried out the survey. "Employees don't feel heard and appreciated."
The bottom line is this: Preventing employee resignation is about connecting people.