Millennial and Gen Z workers have had an unfair reputation bestowed upon them. You don’t have to search far for evidence of this ‘ simply open up a page of your favourite broadsheet newspaper and you’ll find young people being described as a lost generation, with unrealistically high expectations. However, this could not be further from the truth. While the work practices of Millennials might seem alien to many, they’re simply introducing new patterns of work based off of their own life experiences, just as the generations before them have done.
This lack of understanding does create an issue however ‘ how can businesses, still primarily managed by older workers, effectively reach a millennial audience with vastly different viewpoints and expectations than their own? Effectual communication will always be important, but given that Millennials are now estimated to comprise more than 50% of the UK workforce, being able to speak to this group could result in businesses being given a massive advantage when it comes to recruiting the best talent.
So, how can businesses best reach younger workers, to ensure that they are attracting the best possible talent.
The importance of flexible working
Much like younger workers, flexible working has also been given an unfair reputation. Many will have deemed flexible working as nothing more than a way to slack off at home, but once again this could not be further from the truth.
Studies have revealed marked benefits for organisations which implement flexible working schemes ‘ with one survey finding that 77% of employees felt more productive when working remotely, and an additional 30% stating that they were able to work more efficiently when working from home. Given that remote and flexible work helps to promote a healthier work-life balance ‘ important as one in five workers report being stressed by the conflict between work and home life ‘ and allows us to avoid stressful commutes, this should come as no surprise.
Furthermore, flexible work programmes allow organisations to access a more diverse talent base. Individuals that may have parenting or caregiving commitments, who may not be able to meet the demands of the ‘traditional’ working week will still be able to make major work contributions if they can find roles that align with their other responsibilities.
With this in mind, it becomes easier to understand why flexible working is held in such high regard by younger workers. 69% of 18-34 year olds who do not currently work flexibly would like to do so in future, and research has shown that this cohort would prefer to be offered flexible working over being given a pay rise.
So, how can you best implement an effective flexible work policy into your organisation?
Creating the best possible flexible working programme
The first step in creating an effectual flexible work programme involves ensuring that the correct attitudes are in place for both employer and worker. For the employer, trust is key. Workers must be trusted to complete their work without management continually monitoring them. Organisations must become driven by metrics and results, as opposed to procedure ‘ as long as tasks are completed within good time, then nothing else should matter! Similarly, employees will need to balance competing responsibilities and workloads, as well as having to collaborate with other people in different locations. As such, if able to, organisations should invest in training programmes which improve skills such as communicating effectively and time management.
Secondly, businesses need to ensure that workers have the necessary equipment to work effectively outside the office. Internal IT teams must make sure that a company’s infrastructure is up to scratch ‘ workers must be able to access secure private networks remotely. Further, organisations may find that they’ll need to help contribute towards the costs of WiFi or work phones for those that work from home.
This attitude should also extend into the realm of software too ‘ businesses will need to invest in tools such as instant messaging services, shared calendars and online project management tools. Not only will this help your employees to operate effectively, this will also show that you’re a forward thinking organisation that is serious about flexible working, helping you to appeal to younger people who want to see employers embracing new technology.
Navigating modern society can be difficult as an employer. The world of work is shifting rapidly, and it can be difficult to speak to the new generation effectively. However, by embracing new attitudes and flexible forms of work, organisations can win favour with the best possible talent, helping them survive successfully into the future.