The way we work today is almost unrecognizable to the way our parents and grandparents worked before us. In fact, it’s changed dramatically from when many of us initially entered the workforce. The workplace has transformed more in the span of the last five years than it did in the 50 years previous.
Many of these changes were brought about as an emergency response to the pandemic of 2020. And although we’re beyond the chaotic early days of COVID-19, we’re still wrestling with the pandemic’s long-lasting effects.
COVID-19 became a catalyst that forced many organizations to restructure the way that we do business. It also caused many employees to reconsider their jobs. This led to the Great Resignation which many experts believe increased inflation and has ultimately ushered us to the brink of recession.
That sounds like a lot of bad news but there is a silver lining. The changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic have forced organizations to become more innovative in the way that they deliver products and services, and the way that they structure their workplaces. These changes have caused businesses to embrace technology, focus on people over products, and become both creative and nimble. And these positive changes are likely to stick around and become the very foundation for how we work in the future.These positive changes are likely to stick around and become the very foundation for how we work in the future. Click To Tweet
Here are our top predictions for how these changes will affect the workplace in 2023 and beyond.
Generation Z Enters the Workforce
Gen Z, the cohort also known as Zoomers, contains anyone born between the years 1997 and 2010. Entering 2023, the oldest Gen Zers are 26, and the youngest are only 13. While Gen Z has been entering the workforce for a few years now, they will continue to do so over the next decade.
The introduction of Gen Z to the workforce is huge. In the US alone, there are 86 million Zoomers. To contextualize that, there are 82 million Millennials (born 1981 to 2000), 65 million Gen Xers (born 1965 to 1980), and 68 million Baby Boomers (both 1946 to 1964). In many countries outside of the US, Zoomers are the largest cohort ever born, even surpassing Baby Boomers, a generation that earned its name during the post–World War II baby boom.
What does all of this mean for business in 2023?
Zoomers are about to take over the world as we know it. And, they’re not shy about sharing their opinions or reticent to act on what they believe is right. As an organization that is welcoming Zoomers for the first time, you must adjust your expectations and the way that you do business. What has been working for Millennials, Gen Xers, and Boomers definitely won’t work for Zoomers.
Zoomers are digital natives and expect organizations to embrace technology. Zoomers are also guided by an innate sense of social justice. They expect the organizations they work for to be diverse and they also want their employers to care about social issues. They look for flexibility in the workplace, and an atmosphere of collaboration and mutual respect.
Strategy for Older Workforce
Even though Zoomers are entering the workforce in record numbers, you still have other generations to consider. Millennials, Gen Xers, and Boomers, and maybe even those from the Silent Generation (born between the years 1928 to 1945) make up a substantial, if not the majority, of your organization’s workforce. And, this will remain true for years to come.
While it is important to be accommodating to the youngest generation, it is also essential that you invest and those who still have years and maybe even decades before retirement.
To ensure that there is an even playing field for all of your workers, be sure to offer opportunities for upskilling and ongoing education. Zoomers are fresh out of school and, because they’re digital natives, they may also be more fluent in operating technology than older cohorts. But those who have been in the workforce longer may need to update their skillset. Organizations that wish to succeed in 2023 will make ongoing education and training a top priority.
Flexible Work Scheduling
If you haven’t already, it’s time to rethink the standard 9 to 5 workday. One of the greatest lessons we learned from the Great Resignation is that the 9 to 5 workday structure may not be the right option for every organization.
By and large, the concept of an 8-hour workday comes to us from Henry Ford, the founder of the Ford Motor Company. He instituted this work structure partly to improve labor conditions for his employees, but also because the relatively short 8-hour shifts caused employees to be more productive on the assembly line. There’s only so much you can give physically. Prior to Ford’s 40-hour work week, workers had been working 100 hours or more per week. This reduction in work hours reduced injury and accidents and produced more products.
But the concept of working eight hours per day is a concept that each organization should carefully consider before blindly implementing it. Are your employees on a physically demanding assembly line or are they focused on producing more abstract outcomes that require mental dexterity? Arbitrarily working eight hours a day may not be the best option, especially since the brain needs breaks and rest in order to operate a peak efficiency.
Many experts suggest that the average worker is only mentally productive for about three hours—and that’s not consecutive hours. Plus, there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all when it comes to working productivity. Given the same task, two workers may approach work differently and may take different amounts of time. Instead of enforcing a standard 8-hour work day, focus on results. Quality over quantity.
In 2023, experts believe that more organizations will embrace the idea that outcome is better than input.
The concept of hybrid work is not new, but as we move into 2023 and beyond, organizations will become more comfortable with implementing this work structure. Flexibility is important to many workers, but for Zoomers, inflexibility is a deal-breaker. Many workers, especially Zoomers, will gravitate to companies that allow remote work with the option to come to the office when needed.
Connected to hybrid work is the rise of co-working spaces. Because many organizations now hire workers from across the country or even across the globe, there may not be a central office to work from. Co-working spaces were created for this scenario and for those who prefer to work alongside others. In 2023, we’ll see more co-working spaces pop up and more workers utilizing these spaces as opportunities for networking and to reduce this loneliness.
Increased Job Hopping
Gone are the days of sticking with one job from 21 to 65. Although we’re still in the early years, experts predict that the average Gen Z worker will have over 15 jobs during their career.
Unlike Boomers, Zoomers as a whole are not undyingly loyal to any organization. Zoomers approach each new job as an opportunity to develop their skill set and a stepping stone for moving forward in their career. Unlike the generations that came before, many Zoomers don’t believe in the idea of a dream job. They simply view jobs as a means to an end. In other words, their job funds their lifestyles and passions, but the job itself is not their passion. Zoomers and Millennials both tend to have a cynical opinion of the workplace. This is in contrast to the optimistic “let’s change the world” approach taken by Boomers.
Their cynical disposition has led Zoomers as well as many Millennials to job hop. Because their job isn’t their reason for living, they’re not necessarily trying to make a name for themselves in an organization. Instead, Zoomers and Millennials tend to focus on jobs that can offer the skills they need. Once they’ve learned as much as they can from one organization, they will hop to another organization to utilize their skills ( and get paid for it). Of course, job-hopping isn’t limited to Zoomers and Millennials, but these two cohorts are the most likely to do so.
So how do you prevent job-hopping in your workplace?
To retain your workers, offer three things: Outstanding benefits, generous wages, and ongoing training that will make your employees feel like they are continuing to grow while in your organization. Also, promote from within.
Be sure to offer your employees a greater sense of purpose beyond the scope of their job. Sustainability is important as well as social responsibility. Zoomers in particular are most concerned with their social responsibility and want to align themselves with organizations that care about social issues. Focus on hiring for diversity including gender diversity.
While we’re still recovering from a wild and crazy few years, the future remains bright. We have a new generation entering the workforce, and they’ll bring with them exciting, innovative ideas that will challenge us in a good way. Let’s look forward to how these above workplace trends will result in higher employee morale and productivity.
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