A company’s greatest competitive advantage is its people. With gen Y gradually moving into management and gen Z entering the workforce, many leaders will need to adjust longstanding workplace cultures and policies to ensure employees of all ages can thrive.

Millennials are expected to make up 75% of Australia’s workforce by 2025, bringing with them an unprecedentedly sophisticated standard of technical literacy in a time of rapid digital transformation.

Accordingly, business leaders need to ensure the values, beliefs and demands of the future leaders of the workplace are met – or risk being left behind.

Leaders who make their workplace appealing to the younger generations – and simultaneously leverage their unique strengths – will place their business at an advantage.

What business leaders can do to adapt

Embody clear business values.

According to the Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2019, millennials see the businesses they work for as an extension of their personality. They seek authenticity in the way they relate to brands and business, with gen Z in particular seeking out the truth behind all experiences.

To attract and retain young professionals, business leaders must clearly articulate business values that their employees are in turn motivated to embody and advocate.

Leverage their digital and technical skills.

Gen Y and Z have grown up in the digital age with information at their fingertips, so leaders can leverage their technical skills to drive digital transformation.

Implementing cross-pollination strategies like formal mentoring and skill-swap programs are excellent ways to transfer knowledge across generations. Facilitating gen Y and Z to share their digital and technical expertise with experienced professionals who, in return, can help the younger generations adjust to the workforce, develop soft skills and learn industry-specific knowledge, is ultimately of benefit to the business as a whole.

Provide autonomy.

In the workplace, gen Y and Z place high value on flexibility and autonomy. They have embraced technology and are quick to identify how modern workflows allow for a more seamless and mobile working style. Leaders can support them by offering a degree of autonomy in choosing where and how they work, including remote working and flexible hours. Encouraging autonomous workflow is mutually beneficial to company and employee, with younger workers willing to embrace mobile technology to stay on top of their work outside office hours.

Support professional development.

Gen Y and Z move at a fast pace and aren’t afraid to job hop; they value results over tenure. According to PWC, millennials envisage themselves working longer in life, and see skills development as the key to a long career. Leaders should ensure that professional development and mentorship initiatives are at the heart of their retention strategies.

Recognise their value.

Gen Y and Z have been shown to be more resistant to organisational hierarchy. Leaders will keep motivation high by involving these employees in decision-making processes, inviting them to share their ideas, and encouraging them to help shape the company culture.

In the age of digital transformation, gen Y and Z are key to powering businesses to gain the competitive edge. To leverage their potential and make their workplace appealing to the workforce of the future, today’s business leaders must understand the power of shared values; ensure the younger generations are involved in strategy and knowledge exchange; and support them with professional development and flexible working arrangements.

About Robert Half
Robert Half pioneered specialised recruitment services and is today’s leading specialised staffing agency providing recruitment solutions for businesses and finance, accounting, financial services, technology and administrative professionals.