Gen X-ers and millennials currently constitute more of the workforce than ever before, with estimates stating that, by 2025, people born between 1981 and 1996 will make up around 75% of the entire workforce.
As a result of this, we have seen a rise in trends like flexible working, technology-centric practices and flattening business hierarchies – each of which has shown their validity in the face of adversity, in light of recent societal events.
Thanks to the current global pandemic, many businesses have been left now looking towards the future, questioning what kind of influence these younger generations could pose over the coming years.
In this article, we will take a detailed look around exactly that topic, ascertaining how and why millennial and gen X workers look set to shape the post-COVID working landscape.
Remote Working Could Increase
The need for social distancing and widespread lockdowns has sent many of us down the working from home rabbit hole. While freelancing has been on the rise for some time now among millennials, recent polls have shown that Gen X-ers are the most ‘pro-remote’ generation, wishing to continue with remote working options over the long term.
Newly expanded e-learning and company connectivity infrastructures, triggered by the pandemic, have meant that workers can now expand their skillsets and remain up to date on training while minimising any costs associated with employee growth.
These financial positives could see many business owners looking to capitalise on a work-from-home based company structure. Such strategies could not only result in an uptick in the number of remote work opportunities available but it could also provoke further spending on solutions to support the long-term viability of an off-site workforce.
Management Attitudes May Evolve
It is a natural process for younger generations to replace older ones in the labour pool. As more senior personnel retire, younger employees who wish to grow within an organisation generally fill their positions.
This is the situation that many baby boomers currently find themselves in. Many workers of this generation are now approaching retirement age and, following on from the issues associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, some will have had to retire earlier than expected.
As such, this has triggered a shift in management, with more Gen X and early millennials finding themselves in executive roles than ever before. This, in turn, will alter their working perspective, influencing their opinion on the wider employee base of their company.
Workers are now experiencing changes in the way they are supervised, with younger managers preferring to coach and mentor their subordinates instead of controlling them. As more Gen X-ers and millennials transition into positions of power, it appears that we could see huge changes in management attitudes.
More Flexibility Is Possible
Job flexibility has long been at the top of employee wish lists, and that’s no different from the younger generations either.
During the events of 2020, increased pressure on millennials and Gen X-ers has meant balancing work with wider life issues, such as childcare, homeschooling and delivering supplies for elderly family and neighbours. Left with little to no choice on the matter, companies have been forced to allow for extremely flexible working and many have been surprised at the results.
Affording employees more freedom has led to increased productivity and efficiency, with the BBC reporting that workers are up to 13% more effective working more flexibly. What’s more, 86% of respondents in a recent survey said they would forego other benefits in exchange for increased flexibility in their job, with the overall view that location flexibility was most important.
This stance has shown businesses that there are financial advantages to be gained by focusing on employee needs. Allowing for a better work-life balance among staff could not only decrease costs associated with office facilities and staff turnover, but it could also improve profit margins from increased output levels. Therefore, with so many benefits and relatively few drawbacks, flexible jobs could become the new norm moving forward.
Companies Could Be More Socially Responsible
It has been suggested that millennials are more aware of global social issues than any other generation, due to their love of travelling. And that has never been truer than it is right now.
The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have impacted every facet of life in nearly every country on the planet. Evidence of communities across the globe banding together in the face of this new threat has dominated news outlets and highlighted the shared social conscience of humanity; a drive to make a positive difference on those around us.
As millennials begin to make up more of the working population, this attitude could also become a part of business and commerce. In a recent study, 77% of millennials said that they believed companies are too fixated on their own agendas and felt that there should be a bigger emphasis placed on social responsibility and business ethics.
Lockdown has seen traditional corporations vilified amongst Gen X-ers, millennials and mainstream media outlets, for prioritising profit margins over staff wellbeing. This, in turn, has highlighted the importance of people-focused attitudes amongst the new wave of emerging executives, potentially bringing with it an end to soullessly-run businesses.
The COVID-19 pandemic may have changed the way we look at our employment, but natural progression means that, as Gen X and millennials make up more of the workforce, their influence cannot be denied.
From remote working opportunities to increased job flexibility and innovation, it seems that the working landscape is certainly set to change and, if anything, for the better. As with anything, time will tell but for now, at least, millennials and Gen X-ers seem to only be putting the world to right.
Written by Gemma Hart
Gemma Hart is an independent HR professional working remotely from as many coffee shops as she can find. Since graduating in 2013, Gemma has gained experience in a number of HR roles but now turns her focus towards growing her personal brand and connecting with leading experts. Connect with her on Twitter: @GemmaHartTweets