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Understand your workforce to stay ahead

Last month, I attended a powerful women’s leadership conference organized by Rise & Lead Women in Hague. During one of the sessions, an HR executive of a Fortune 500 company shared a personal story of her nephew, who refused to take up a job with her company. Initially oblivious to the fact that the nephew was looking to change his place of work, she assumed it to be a no-brainer that she would be his first point of call should the need arise. Unfortunately, she learned about the nephew’s job search from someone else, and when she asked why he didn’t reach out to her, she got a rude awakening in his response. Paraphrased, he replied, “Your organization is great at touting packages, which is the least of my concerns. I want to work in an organization where my values are respected, and my psychological health is protected.” Nothing prepared her for such a response, nor has she encountered such a strong-willed job seeker in her decades of experience. With this type of encounter, business leaders and employers need to acquaint themselves critically and urgently with what shapes the mindset of Gen Zs to understand them and what they represent.

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This generation, born between 1995 and 2012, grew up with easy access to technology. As a result, Gen Zs are very smart, tech-savvy, and can learn almost anything independently. The world has never seen such a smart workforce in the entire history of work as we have now, and they are already defining the future of it. Career keywords that resonate with them are flexibility, agility, technology, social justice, stress-free, zero turnaround time, fast, convenient, effective, relatable, and justifiable. However, as much as they are a huge asset to any organization that gets to hire them, they thrive in more independent work environments because they are more entrepreneurial than conformists. Although they are great at multitasking, they may not necessarily be thorough in completing tasks. Often, light years ahead because they are fast thinkers, their leaders need to look critically into their work for depths and encourage them to do likewise.

Understanding this generation is crucial to the successful hiring, retention, and engagement of their talents. Some of the things to look out for are their basic values. Because their expectations vary from person to person, identifying with their common values like flexibility, work-life balance, and personal fulfillment will make engaging them well worth it.

Their high expectations for continuous learning and development, unshakable interest in purpose-driven work goals, unapologetic demand for recognition and feedback frameworks, and passion for collaborative, inclusive, social, and responsible work environments make them unique yet profoundly sought after. It is a simple case of knowing these and knowing peace for organization leaders.

Being self-aware and adequately equipped to manage each generation based on their values and expectations to get the best out of them all is what would set your business up for unparalleled success

Unlike the millennials, for whom employers can promise work tools shortly and still get things done while waiting, a Gen Z, without prejudice, may find it difficult and probably be frustrated by the certain level of the employers’ unpreparedness for them. Therefore, taking their onboarding as seriously as employers want them to take the job is advisable. Although their directness may seem too ambitious, critical-thinking employers can easily see their sincerity and genuine utmost reliance on a bare minimum standard work tool in an environment that engenders their engagement.

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This article will be somewhat incomplete without considering some salient attributes of millennials. This other generation, born between 1981 and 1996, known as millennials, is responsible for the biggest chunk of the global workforce. They symbolize the end of the old and the beginning of the new while representing the global workforce’s balance between the old and new generations. Currently standing at 40% of the worldwide workforce, the millennials will take up this largest participation till the end of the decade, according to Anita Lettink of Strategic Management Centre in the Netherlands. The HR expert and keynote speaker on the future of work and pay estimated the significance of this generation’s participation in terms of population presence. Interestingly, the teeming population of its counterpart prepares to take over a couple of decades later.

Unlike Gen Zs, the millennials are more personally goal-oriented than global. They are more conformist than entrepreneurial and, therefore, would focus more on a job that allows them to afford an excellent quality of life while positively impacting people in their immediate environment. They work best in groups and enjoy creating a team-bonding atmosphere at the workplace.

As interesting as it has been highlighting the attributes of these two fast-growing generations in the global workforce, identifying and elucidating their needs to manage their expectation largely depends on so many other factors. Their ability to co-exist and thrive in the same work environment alongside their predecessors requires some technical know-how of corporate wellness experts like us.

In this dispensation, organizations need a community of professionals of all generations. Being self-aware and adequately equipped to manage each generation based on their values and expectations to get the best out of them all is what would set your business up for unparalleled success with the competitive edge that turns you into an object of envy for the rest.

Read also: Why we must invest in workforce training to fill skill gap in energy sector

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Leading organizations in a highly VUCA world like ours today is such that constantly places business owners and corporate organizations on their toes. However, countering volatility with vision and values, uncertainty with understanding, reacting to complexity with clarity, and fighting ambiguity with agility always gives the upper hand. To know more, kindly send an e-mail today to

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