Addressing the work-life balance and well-being demands of younger generations

Aug 12, 2023

This isn’t your parents’ workplace — or even your younger siblings’ or cousins’ — in many situations. Over the past decade, and especially since the pandemic, the workplace has changed dramatically. So have the demands of employees, especially younger employees.

This isn’t your parents’ workplace — or even your younger siblings’ or cousins’ — in many situations. Over the past decade, and especially since the pandemic, the workplace has changed dramatically. So have the demands of employees, especially younger employees.

The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped the way we work, offering the opportunity for many employees to break away from the traditional office workplace through hybrid or remote work arrangements. This shift has led to new expectations — even demands — about what the workplace of the post-pandemic era should look like. Employees want purpose-driven work. They want flexibility and work life balance. They want to work in a fair and inclusive environment. They want all of this and more! Younger generations, in particular, who are expected to make up one-third of the workforce by 2023, are driving these demands.

Purpose-Driven Work

Millennials and members of Gen Z are looking for work that has a positive impact on society and that aligns with their personal values. And there’s data to back up these desires.

According to the Deloitte Global 2022 Gen Z and Millennial Survey, passion and impact are significant drivers for younger generations. Deloitte found that 63% of Millennials and 65% of Gen Z believe the success of a business should be measured by more than financial performance. It should also be measured based on the impact the organization has on society at large.

These findings reveal a strong desire among younger generation employees for the kind of purpose-driven work that allows them, and the companies they work for, to make a positive impact.To address those needs, organizations can:

  • Connect mission with purpose. Draw a clear connection between the company’s mission and how each employee’s work contributes to achieving that mission. Gen Z and Millennial employees want to work for a company with values that align with their own.
  • Regularly recognize and celebrate employees. Acknowledge employees who exemplify the company’s values and mission. All workers, but especially younger ones, want to feel valued and appreciated for their work. Demonstrate they — and their efforts — are valued by offering perks that are relevant to them, particularly perks that help simplify their lives.
  • Foster collaboration and teamwork. Establishing cross-functional teams or assigning group projects that align with the company’s mission, can help bring employees together in meaningful ways. Purpose-driven work often involves working together toward a common goal.
  • Provide opportunities that support social responsibility. Encourage employees to volunteer and engage in social responsibility initiatives that align with the company’s values and mission. These opportunities can take place both onsite and off. Younger workers often place a strong emphasis on social responsibility and volunteering.

Organizations can show their commitment to providing purpose-driven work opportunities in a number of ways to meet the varied needs and preferences of employees. By being mindful and taking advantage of these opportunity, employers can drive home the connection between employee and company values.

Flexibility and Work life Balance

Younger generation employees value their personal time and want to be able to work remotely or have flexible working hours. That’s become painfully clear to some employers that have taken a hardline approach to calling employees back to the office.

A study conducted by Business Insider illustrates how younger employees prioritize the ability to have personal time. They’re interested in jobs that allow them to work remotely and have flexible working hours. In fact, they even view organizations that provide tech to help make their jobs easier as more desirable to work for than those that don’t.

In addition, a Forbes article indicates that more than 60% of employees in younger generations view the shift to remote work positively and want to have the option to work remotely more often. The ability to do so is an important element of their well-being needs.

Here are some ways organizations can support the need for flexibility and work life balance that younger employees have:

  • Offer flexible work arrangements including remote work, flexible working hours, or compressed workweeks. This allows younger workers to better balance their personal and professional commitments and promotes a healthier work life integration.
  • Support mental and physical well-being through employee work life balance and wellness programs. Prioritizing employee well-being, both in and out of the workplace, promotes work life balance and reduces stress levels among all workers, especially those new to workplace expectations.
  • Foster a supportive and inclusive work environment by creating a company culture that values maintaining a healthy work life balance. This could include avoiding excessive overtime expectations, promoting a supportive culture where employees feel comfortable setting their own boundaries and fostering a supportive workplace community.

Be innovative: explore options for flexibility that will meet both employee and employer needs.

A Fair and Inclusive Environment

Members of the Millennial and Gen Z demographics place a significant value on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). And they expect their employers to actively support these values!

In fact, according to a Pew Research Center survey, a majority of employed U.S. adults (56%) believe that focusing on increasing DEI at work is a good thing. That belief is even stronger among younger job seekers. For them, workplace diversity and inclusion isn’t simply a preference, but a requirement. They’ll actively seek companies to work for that prioritize and visibly demonstrate a commitment to DEI.

As Gallup points out, DEI isn’t a “nice to have” demand for younger generations — “it’s an imperative that is core to their personal identities.

Here’s how organizations can address these needs:

  • Foster a culture of diversity and inclusion, that values diversity in numerous ways, promotes a positive employee experience. For instance: embracing diversity in recruiting, promoting diversity at all levels of the organization, holding events that celebrate diverse groups, and incorporating diversity and inclusion training during the onboarding process.
  • Establish Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) to bring employees with shared experiences or identities together to support one another. ERGs give employees a platform to educate and inform others about the challenges and opportunities related to diversity, equity, and inclusion that they experience.
  • Encourage mentorship and sponsorship programs to help employees connect with others in the organization that they may not have met otherwise. These programs can create opportunities for employees to learn from one another and help ensure underrepresented employees have access to support from senior leaders.

Employee experiences during the pandemic have led to new demands — especially among younger employees. Who knows what the next big impact will be, but the workplace will continue to evolve. Organizations that activate an employee experience strategy and keep their finger on the pulse of employee needs are more likely to keep their workforce happy, motivated, engaged — and on board. That puts them in a better position to successfully navigate the next challenge that comes their way. Especially for younger workers, that means a lot.


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