Young people currently between the ages of 16-20 are going to be entering the workforce in the next five years. What do these future employees want? Spoon Helsinki’s intern, Stella Lindfors, explores the topic in more detail.
My recent interviews with teenagers across the globe made it clear that ‘Generation Z’ or ‘iGen’ have certain expectations for their future employers. Now is the time for companies to consider what these potential employees want in a future workplace so they can build an attractive employer brand.
Evolving definitions of work-life balance
Today companies are spending a lot of time and energy debating work-life balance, but this is a relatively recent phenomenon.
The Baby Boomers (born between 1945-1960), who grew up in the aftermath of World War II, valued steady employment and a reliable income. They were loyal employees who were dedicated to the company. But this work ethic brought with it high levels of stress, according to a recent Forbes article on the changing definition of work-life balance.
The children of the Baby Boomers, Generation X (born between 1961-1980) witnessed the impact of poor work-life balance on their families. As a result, they came to value personal time off (PTO) and adequate vacations, along with paternity and maternity leave.
The current Millennial generation, who will make up an estimated 75 per cent of the workforce by 2025, have yet another view on work-life balance. Companies have tried to attract this group by embellishing their workspaces with free coffee, bean bag chairs and ping pong tables. However, American Millennials, who face astonishing student loan debt and a tight housing market, report that they don’t particularly value such perks.
Salaries, potential for growth, and location remain the key factors they consider when looking for a job.
What about the iGen future employees?
Angus Bennett, a 19-year-old University of Southern California undergraduate currently interning in Beijing, says that he has high expectations for himself and his future employer.
‘I got off work today at 10:30 p.m. and still went to the gym,’ Bennett says. ‘My top priority is to meet the demands of my personal health, professional and family life, keeping a state of equilibrium so each area of my life can exist in harmony’.
Krish Kothari, 17, who lives in Hong Kong, agrees that taking care of yourself is important — and it can benefit your employer.
‘Preserving your mental health is crucial in order to maintain productivity’, he says.
What about environmental sustainability?
Members of iGen are increasingly challenging companies to consider their ethical and moral impact on the world at large, not just their stakeholders. Thanks to the reach of the internet, these young people are aware of how business affects the globe, and they feel a strong sense of responsibility for the planet.
‘Having easy access to information about the environment, it would be terrible not to consider the environmental impact of your actions’, says Kothari.
Montreal-based 17-year-old Micaela Forcione agrees.
‘Businesses must be transparent and not solely focused on maximising profit’, Forcione says.
Forcione states that for her, businesses should ‘benefit the world somehow. The whole idea should be focused around benefiting the lives of others, to make life better and easier’.
When asked if they would consider working for a company with known environmental issues and challenges, teens initially rejected the idea.
Londoner Alicia Zwick, 16, says:
‘Being involved in a business causing environmental destruction would make me say no, nor if it made the lives of anyone else harder. I don’t think I could go to sleep knowing that I was adding to an already suffering Earth’.
What if the company was trying to change its ways and prioritise sustainability? Three out of the four interviewees said they would consider a job offer under these circumstances. Zwick and Bennett commented that they would work for such a company if it was ‘legitimately pursuing these promises’.
Building the right workplace for the next generation requires understanding their interests and priorities. Companies need to begin this process now if they want to attract top talent in the future.
Want to get started?
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