As retirement becomes harder to achieve, older workers continue to stick around in their jobs for longer than they would’ve in the past. This has resulted in a multi-generational workforce on a large scale, arguably for the first time in U.S. history.
With those who remember where they were during the space shuttle Challenger disaster and the O.J. Simpson Bronco freeway chase working alongside those who never existed in a world without cell phones and social media, workers don't often agree on the ideal work environment.
With all of the quarrels surrounding Gen Z’s skills and work ethic, millennial and Gen X self-sufficient workplace demeanors, and the baby boomer generation’s perceived negative impacts on today’s world, blaming workplace issues on generational groups is nothing new.
According to data from multiple surveys by software firm Adobe, tech has nestled itself into the latest stack of labor issues, as 70% of Gen Z employees — those born between 1997 and 2012 — tell Adobe researchers they would leave their job for better technology.
The Multiple Roles of Technology
Accountants have shown to be happier when they have access to better technology; younger workers in general have the same approach and desires.
According to researchers, Gen Z workers relate technology with work-life balance and morale. If younger workers can work with tools to make handling and managing files, contracts, forms, and invoices easier, they are more likely to consider that when contemplating a job move.
Research shows that 52% of Gen X employees — those born between 1965 and 1980 — would also leave for tech. The least likely to consider changing jobs due to access to better technology are the baby boomers — those born between 1946 and 1964 — with just over a third (37%) saying they would leave for access to better automation tools.
In efforts to combat shelfware and avoid overpaying, many executives have had mixed approaches to constructing their tech stacks and their overall approach to IT. As the roles of automation, fintech, and AI-generative chatbots continue to be redefined and implemented, technology’s role in the workplace may become more of a holistic, work-supplementing, and morale-boosting tool versus just another way to save time and potentially cut costs.
Flexible Work Environments and Time
With few employees returning to the office regularly unless forced to do so, younger workers who entered post-pandemic expect some flexibility from their employers. Adobe research shows younger employees claim to be more productive outside of the typical working hours.
Although this contradicts the younger generations' desire for work-life balance, about a quarter (26%) of Gen Z employees said they were more productive during the evening and pre-dawn hours, primarily between 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. In comparison, only 6% of baby boomers felt they were more productive during those times.
What the Generations Want
Leaders must decide whether a universal workflow or granting employee autonomy regarding when and how they work is best for their company.
Research shows more than half of Gen Z and millennial (born between 1981 and 1996) workers will look for a new job this year, presumably for the next best perks and offerings.
But baby boomers and Gen X may be in it for the long haul at their companies, as roughly only a quarter of those two groups plans to leave their jobs over the next 12 months.
While Gen Z and millennials have time on their side and may be more willing to search for riskier opportunities, baby boomers and Gen X are more conservative in their career moves. Their willingness to stick around, regardless of technology or the ability to work whenever or wherever they want, is less of a reflection of the character of older generations and more of the overall state of the American worker and the rising cost of living.
Unlike Gen Z and many millennial employees, Gen X or baby boomer workers are more likely to have families to support. Without dismissing their desire to have work-life balance to spend time with their families, there is more at stake for a Gen X or baby boomer worker versus a millennial or a Gen Z one.
This, combined with the difficulties surrounding achieving the financial wherewithal to retire, is likely why younger workers are more willing to flee their roles for better-looking opportunities.