Guest Blog | What Graduates and Millennials Look For in Their First Workplace

by Conor Todd | Content creator and digital marketer | FreeOfficeFinder


Millennials and members of Gen Z are leaving school and university to set off into the world of work. One could forgive them for being tentative about their futures. The list of prospective challenges they may face can make for ugly reading. Crippling debt, job automation, unemployment, unaffordable house prices, and it goes on. Despite this, young people aren’t panicking. One could predict that recent graduates would be grabbing any job they could find, but members of Gen Z are actually pretty confident about their financial future. Impressively, this next generation of workers are demanding a lot from their employers. 

In a climate where employers could take advantage of graduates looking for experience, who are willing to work, there has been something of a power shift. Young people expect their bosses and companies to meet a certain standard that has somewhat moved the power into their hands. In order to recruit the best talent nowadays, many businesses have to consider their company culture, looking at whether they are environmentally aware, ethically viable and value equality. Millennials and Gen Z, instead of merely focusing on remuneration, are seriously looking into what kind of company they will be representing, what kind of workplace culture they provide and how flexible they can be with modern life.

We wanted to take a deeper look at what Millennials and Gen Z look for in their first workplace and what employers might need to look at in order to find and keep the best talent.

 

1.Flexibility


Millennials and members of Gen Z look for flexibility in the workplace and value it more highly than maybe any other aspect of their new role. As technology advances exponentially, so does our ability to work differently, meaning younger workers can abandon traditional 9 ‘till 5 office routines. Flexibility is so highly valued because it can improve engagement whilst also giving employees a certain amount of autonomy and control over how and when they work. Technology means that remote working some or all of the time is a viable option for many employees, and many young workers believe this can be beneficial to their productivity and work-life balance.

So, in order to recruit the best young talent, employers will now have to consider how flexible they can be with their employees. Members of Gen Z and some millennials might be looking for an opportunity to spend one or two days working from home, have flexibility when it comes to their actual working hours, or even negotiate about what their actual role will involve. If, as an employer, you are rigid in your demands of workers, in terms of where they work from, their working hours and their role, you may find it difficult to entice the best talent. This is because the workplace is quickly evolving such that graduates and young workers are more likely to find roles flexible enough to match their needs.


Flexible Working


2. Company Culture


Millennials report being happy to take a pay cut, if it means joining an organisation with a preferable company culture to their current employers’. Younger generations are far more likely to join an organisation that suits both their temperament which also aligns with their values and beliefs, over a well-paying job that may not fit their workplace expectations.  

Members of Gen Z and Millennials expect something different out of their workplaces. Valuing most highly issues of race, sex and gender as well the environment, these generations of workers won’t tolerate certain behaviours and practices in their workplace. Offices and workplaces that aren’t inclusive of all people regardless of differences are likely to be shunned and avoided by younger workers, as well as companies whose practices both in and out of the office are particularly harmful to the environment. So, a more considerate workplace is clearly a must if employers are going to attract the best young talent.

Another area to be considered is the employer/employee relationship. Surveys show that members of Gen Z value mentorship in their new workplace nearly as much as healthcare. This implies that Gen Z are desperate to learn, but that they also value a more informal teacher/student relationship with their employers, as opposed to a more traditional boss/worker role. They are there to learn and improve just as much as they are there to perform tasks for higher ups. For this reason, a stern and unforgiving manager or boss is unlikely to retain young talent, as they look for an employer who can help them grow and act as something of a mentor. 

This need for a mentor is probably down to the fact that a majority of younger workers expect to find a career where they have opportunities for growth. Employers will therefore need to make it clear that there is a possible trajectory for young prospective workers to improve and succeed in their workplace.


3. Office Space


One aspect which might help employers who want to retain the best, young talent is a consideration of their actual workplace. Young people are aware of the effect their job will play in their mental health. The office or workplace can have a major effect on this; drab design, bad transport links and lack of space to take breaks can soon decrease a person’s mood and motivation. Something as simple as exposure to natural light has been shown to improve well-being and productivity.

By choosing office space that benefits workers’ productivity and morale, whether it is through large windows, breakout spaces or impressive design, employers improve their chances of retaining the best talent. Given their high estimation of work-life balance, millennial and Gen Z workers will value a workspace that allows them to work productively but also recharge and cut off from their tasks. Some workers may even turn down a role if the workplace does not meet certain standards of theirs. This serves to show the importance of the office design and layout in recruiting millennials and members of Gen Z.


Breakout Area


4. Diversity


When asked which factor would most lead them to trusting their employer, members of Gen Z answered that providing all employees, regardless of differences, equal opportunity for pay and promotion, would be the most trust inducing factor they could see in their employer. This generation consider themselves socially aware, making them far more likely to want to work for an equal opportunities employer. Any company or employer perceived as being averse to providing equal opportunities will find it harder to gain Gen Z’s trust and thereby employment. 

Similarly, nearly half of millennials surveyed said that they actively look for diversity and inclusion as important criteria they look for in potential employers. This shows the weight which these two generations genuinely put on their belief systems and how these relate to their workplace. 

Any company which gains any kind of reputation for paying unequal wages or treating diversity without the importance and value which younger generations place on it, may soon be perceived as antiquated and thereby opposed to younger worker’s values. It has been seen that millennials and Gen Z’ers place enough weight on such issues, that gaining any kind of bad reputation could genuinely make it much harder for certain employers and companies to recruit the best talent. Younger workers have clearly defined their preference and it is to work for an organisation which shares their values and acts as such.


5. Work-life Balance


A 2016 study found that millennials valued work-life balance over all other aspects when it came to their career. As millennials are beginning families and are far more likely than previous generations to be in relationships where both partners are in full-time work, a good work-life balance is seen as essential, both for avoiding burn-out but also enjoying a fulfilled and enjoyable life outside of work. For this reason, a good work-life balance is seen as an indicator of success. With technology changing the way we work and making options such as remote work and flexible hours exponentially more feasible than for previous generations, millennials and members of Gen Z highly value the ability to take advantage of new ways of working in order to better switch off from their roles, travel and spend valuable time with family and friends.

If companies want to provide the healthy work-life balance that is so essential to many millennials and members of Generation Z as they progress in their careers, they will have to ensure they provide the necessary holiday time and flexible work hours to give employees this possibility. On top of this, it bodes well for companies who have an understanding of workplace stress, burnout and mental health. Younger generations feel much less stigma around mental health and thereby a company who understands how to help their employees deal with the challenges of balancing work and life will certainly be seen as progressive and worthwhile to younger candidates.


6. Satisfaction


At the risk of being labelled as entitled, just as their millennial predecessors were, Gen Z expect job satisfaction. They want genuine value from their work, but not without good reason. Many members of Gen Z believe that the rapid advancement of technology and automation will make it more likely that they can perform meaningful and focused work.

There is no shame in being ambitious and looking for a satisfying job and the same study showed that those members of Gen Z actually valued job satisfaction as much, if not more, than money. This represents a level-headed approach to work, with financial stability, but also personal wellbeing and fulfilment being recognised as key to a good life. Certainly not greedy and able to recognise the value of saving, having grown up through a recession, Gen Z are looking for jobs in which they can add genuine value as well as take genuine pleasure from performing their role each day.

Employers, then, will have to take into consideration the needs of the candidate when offering roles, accommodating their skills and preferences; specifying and re-designing roles such that they can meet the requirements of the best talent. If automation does indeed make roles more specific and specialised, employers may need to give new employees more freedom in their role than ever before in order to guarantee retaining them.

 

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