From Gen Z to Gen X, the future of work is already here

- November 16, 2019 4 MIN READ

Earlier this year Deloitte released their annual global millennial survey which canvassed the views of over 13,000 Gen Y and 4000 Gen Z from around the globe. Unsurprisingly, the study revealed a lack of trust for big business and uncertainty of the future.

Alongside this increased pessimism was a rise in the number of millennials and Gen Z who valued purpose above all and a change in the way this group pursued career options.  And this need for purpose and value traversed both work and home life.

Deloitte reports the majority say they will not hesitate to lessen or end a consumer relationship when they disagree with a company’s business practices, values or political leanings. While 49 per cent — would, if they had a choice — quit their current jobs in the next two years.

Millennials already make up the largest proportion of the workforce. By 2021, 50 per cent of the U.S. workforce is expected to be made up of millennials. It will be 75 per cent by 2030. The numbers in Australia are similar. It’s a brave new world out there,

When businesses and corporations plan for the future of work it’s essential they understand the needs of this cohort.

In 2020 Red Balloon CEO  and Shark Tank expert, Naomi Simson, will be heading to Silicon Valley with a delegation of women in leadership positions to discuss this very issue. Understanding what the future of work will look like as millennials and Gen Z become the dominant force in the workplace is vital, Simson says.

Simson believes when it comes to Gen Z and millennials, they are looking for something completely different to previous generations, whether it be at work or at play.

Speaking at a Tech for Good event in Sydney, Simson suggests Gen Z are looking for  access over ownership,

“I like to jest that my kids will never own a car, they just want to get from A to B and mum’s taxi has long gone since they invented Uber, which we are all very grateful for,” she laughs. “But they see the world differently. They want clean clothes but they don’t necessarily want a washing machine.”

Simson says its vital businesses big or small, wrap their heads around this group’s changing needs.

“For us, that is also the future of our customer base as well as our workforce and we need to stay connected to that. So, what that means is we will have employees who are really interested to know how the workweek will stay as interesting for them as what they do on the weekend. Whilst we’re also serving them as consumers.”

The Shark Tank expert whose experience business Red Balloon already caters to large number of this cohort says connection is key.

“Our world of work is changing. We know for example that in Seattle 70 per cent of the workforce is one paycheck away from homelessness. We know in Silicon Valley two and a half more millionaires have moved into San Francisco – so what does that do to the police officers, the teachers, the essential service workers? They can no longer afford to live where they work – it’s a three-hour commute. What’s the impact? We want to feel that our toil is purposeful,” she says.

“So when I reflect back on our Australian community, I think I look at this massive country where we are building infrastructure like the NBN and we see the fastest growth of new business is in regional Australia. And I see our world of work is changing. We want intimate emotional and great connections with other human beings and that won’t happen if we spend half our lives travelling to work. The other thing is hotdesking just isn’t working. We want to feel that our toil is purposeful.”

Although Simson is quick to point out that purpose may not be enough in this future-work-world.

“I have to tell you a story. Everyone comes on Shark Tank and says “The problem I’m solving is…’ And that’s great, but would anyone buy it?

“So really the question is: ‘What is the job we are being hired to do?’ And there is a Harvard Review article about this: It’s either a transaction or a social or emotional connection. Those are the three reasons you’re hired for service. So, I’m really curious about what is the future of the sorts of jobs people are being hired to do and what that represents for Australia and for entrepreneurs inside and outside large corporations.”

Simson suggests as more millennials and Gen Z enter the workforce it won’t simply be remote work and flexibility that is commonplace but optionality too.

“I hear this term flexibility – but now people want optionality. That’s what people talk about when it comes to their careers. ‘I want the option to have six weeks holiday’. ‘I want the option to go on a sabbatical’ – it’s far more than this notion of flexibility.”

Purpose, she says is also paramount for the current and next generation of employees. People are no longer satisfied with the nine to five grind.

“For me, when it comes to purpose my job was to make an emotional connection to how we make the world a better place. And that has always about how you contribute to others. It’s about what you give, not what you get and so purpose came from me listening to my customers…

“Our job is to create community, emotional connection and relationships. To make the future of work serve our community – because we serve our community in business. Technology is not a disrupter, our customers are.

“So our job is to look at that. How do we create deep rich and vivid lives for our employees? We are all leaders in some way because we all have power over the choices we make. We choose to participate fully, to truly engage and to align people around us to the things we believe in.”

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