This article was first published by HR Dive and republished by CFO.com.
The coming year represents a pivotal moment of cultural change that U.S. companies can’t ignore, as Generation Z workers, or “Zoomers,” are poised to overtake Baby Boomers in the full-time workforce, Glassdoor’s 2024 Workplace Trends report predicted. Gen Z is commonly represented by those born between 1997 and 2010, with Baby Boomers born between 1946 and 1964. Millennials are those born from 1981 to 1996.
Gen Z workers care deeply about community connections, having their voices heard in the workplace, transparent and responsive leadership, and diversity and inclusion — priorities that organizations and talent acquisition teams will have to address to attract and retain this increasingly important share of the American workforce, according to the Nov. 15 report.
Employers who undertook layoffs in 2023 will also have to address another critical issue: continuing declines in employee morale and satisfaction, the report cautioned. Employee ratings about senior management and CEO approval typically plummet immediately after a layoff, and assessments change little during the following six months, according to the report. By contrast, employee dissatisfaction with their workplace culture and work-life balance may not be immediately felt, but “there can be an ongoing impact from longer-term burnout, weaker employee culture, and persistent disengagement” during the same six months after a layoff.
By most expectations, U.S. businesses avoided having to deal with an official recession, Glassdoor noted. Companies also may have made it through the worst of the layoffs and should be able to plan for hiring to “haltingly improve” over 2024, it said.
But organization leaders still face crucial issues — namely those having to do with workplace culture — that “will test the robustness” of their institutions, the report noted.
To strengthen employee morale, employers may want to start by repairing employee trust in leadership damaged by cost-cutting strategies employers took to prepare for a potential economic downturn. Although 56% of HR and business leaders recently surveyed by Challenger, Gray & Christmas said their employees had a favorable view of leadership, that is a noticeable decrease from 65% last spring, according to the firm’s October report. Respondents pointed to inefficacy, inconsistency, and poor communication as causes.
Poor communication may be part of the reason Gen Z, millennials, and Gen X workers (born between 1965 and 1980) say they’re struggling at work, according to a September report from FlexJobs.
The report found that nearly three-quarters of Gen Z workers feel more optimistic about their career prospects now than this time last year, as compared to 43% of millennials and 31% of Gen X workers. And accounting graduates in particular are feeling confident bout their career choice. But workers across all three generations reported similar challenges, including excessive work and a lack of clarity around their job roles and expectations.
Gen Z was most concerned about expectations from their bosses and a lack of knowledge about how to complete tasks, the FlexJobs report found.
These newest members of the workforce are hungry for personal growth, and talent teams may stand out by showcasing learning benefits as a way to appeal to Gen Z applicants, LinkedIn reported in 2022. The platform’s research found that Gen Z job hunters consider increased learning opportunities a top factor in their job search. They ranked training second, just behind “better alignment with my interest or values.”
In the face of a growing and maturing Gen Z, companies may also want to consider revamping their total rewards strategies. As younger generations form families, advance in their careers, and accumulate assets, they’ll be more focused on health insurance for dependents, retirement savings, and other traditional benefits, researchers in an EY and Limra joint study released last August reported.
Glassdoor found that benefits such as fertility and adoption assistance, parental leave, and mental healthcare continued to rise in 2023, perhaps as a widespread effort to make work more accessible to parents or to attract millennials on the cusp of family formation years, it said.
However, this trend could ebb in 2024 “as labor is more available and companies scrutinize costs to identify the benefits that are most (and least) important to their employees,” Glassdoor added.