Flexibility and financial security are not negotiable, Gen Z says
The pandemic has pushed flexibility to the forefront, and continued demand for this model illustrates the well-being priorities for today’s workforce. Generation Z makes up a higher percentage of the workforce now, but the flexibility Gen Z is seeking is not a top priority for many business leaders, according to a new report.
An Economist Intelligence Corporate Network report, The Talent Survey 2023: Gen Z and the Four-day Working Week, looks at the differing and conflicting perceptions of employees and leaders regarding a shorter workweek.
“The worker of 2023 values a four-day workweek and believes this is easily achievable, either with or without making up the lost hours on working days,” the report said. “But business leaders are hesitant to be the first to experiment with a four-day workweek, citing competitive pressures and operational challenges.”
The global survey relays the insights of over 550 respondents.
Flexibility continues to be a main attraction in the search for talent, particularly for younger workers. Gen Z’s entrance into the job market happened as remote and hybrid work became the new normal, the report notes, and remains a leading priority for this demographic.
Work/life balance is second from the top for Gen Z when selecting roles, the report said, with attractive salaries first. “In an environment characterised by rising living costs, it is logical that financial security will be a main priority of the Gen Z workforce,” the report said.
Business leaders do not share the same enthusiasm about the four-day workweek that employees do, and “the vast majority of companies” represented have not implemented a shorter week, the report said. Of the respondents, 91% have not experimented with a four- day workweek, 6% have one in place, and 3% tried it but chose not to continue with the initiative.
Discussions about a shorter workweek illuminate the divide between leaders and workers. The report notes that 83% of employees would prefer a four-day workweek; a similar percentage of business leaders say they are not considering it.
The top reason for leaders’ decision not to undertake a shorter week was the nature of business, followed by an established culture (“we’ve always done it this way”), productivity impacts, and competition (“our competitors don’t do a four-day work week”).
“Among those few businesses that have conducted the four-day workweek, only 24% expected their employees to work fewer hours than they did in a traditional five-day workweek,” the report said.
Gen Z’s workplace expectations
“Human resource executives will need to make significant long-term plans and strategies to account for the expectations and experiences of the Gen Z workforce,” the report said. “This group is forecast to make up the second largest workforce group in the next decade, and leaders will need to understand [their preferences].”
The report relays the key values Gen Z expects the modern workplace to have:
An inclusive company culture
Stability and balance
Collaboration and autonomy
A shorter application process
Organisations that do not demonstrate high levels of transparency could lose younger workers, the report emphasises, and Gen Z employees are more willing than those in other generations to change jobs for the purpose of achieving their desired salary.
Evaluate the theory of motivation (and its corresponding category) applicable to Gen Z employees. (15)
Critically discuss the benefits contemporary organisations would derive from the application of this theory to the workplace. (15)
One of the key values of a modern workplace is “inclusive company culture”. Explain what is meant by an “inclusive company culture” and provide recommendations to organisations wishing to create such a culture. (20)
Answers to Above Questions on Financial Security
Answer 1: An analysis of the existing literature indicates that there are many motivational theories that are applicable to Gen Z employees. One such motivational theory is Hertzberg two factor theory which indicates that Gen Z employees can be motivated by different factors such as growth opportunities, positive working environment etc.
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