Juggling generations at workplace
As Generation Z prepares to enter the workforce and join their Generation X and Y colleagues, employers around the world must carefully review their workplace policies to ensure that they have a workplace that is comfortably equipped to deal with all three generations.
As organisations seek to optimise the work environment and policies for multigenerational workforces, it's important to explore whether generational differences are actually relevant. Focusing on the behaviours and attitudes of Gen X, Gen Y and Gen Z, Insead's Brave New Workplace eBook explores how these three generations are reshaping the nature of work and workplace culture.
Growing up digital, say some, has so influenced younger generations that it somehow gives them a permanently different outlook than their older peers. Gen X calls Gen Y the Peter Pan Generation, saying they cling to childhood even as adults. While millennials characterise their Gen X peers as nihilistic and disdainful. Neither has fully formed their opinions about Gen Z, who are on the cusp of entering the workforce.
"Regardless of opinion about the members of this age group, the inclusion of Gen Z in to the labour market will initiate a new era in workplace culture, their presence will disrupt the nature of work as we know it today and therefore understanding the new multigenerational workforce must not be treated as an afterthought," said Universum CEO, Petter Nylander. "Gen Z are set to account for around 20 per cent of the adult workforce by 2020, and knowing how to harmonise and steer a workplace that includes these three generations should be a top priority for any employer."
Vinika D. Rao, executive director of Insead Emerging Markets Institute, noted: "One dimension that demonstrates both a clear generational divide as well as a geographical one is the aspect of challenges that women face at work. Organisations therefore need to avoid over-generalisations such as blanket initiatives targeting women. Managing a multigenerational, diverse workforce entails a careful study of how workplace measures are perceived by different employees."
"Today's workplace is an interesting assortment of multigenerational values, approaches to technology, leadership styles and workplace preferences," said Henrik Bresman, academic director, Insead Global Leadership Centre.
"This study shows that as far as the need to identify with a company's culture and values, there is no perceptible difference between the three generations. On the other hand, in terms of whether they have an optimistic or pessimistic outlook towards their work, there is a clear generational divide." Brave New Workplace is based on a survey of over 18,000 students and professionals from 19 countries - spanning Gen Xers who've been in the workplace for two decades to Gen Z students - and shares data about preferred work styles, leadership qualities, and hopes and fears about future careers. It will be followed by two more eBooks. Focusing on the topics of technology and leadership, these eBooks will be released in the coming months and include research that not only offers insights about the preferences and values of individual generations, but also point to how employers can integrate and manage a multigenerational workforce.