How young people are shaping the future workforce
Dr Zoë Port, senior lecturer in management at Massey University and co-host of Stand Up, the youth wing of the Council of Trade Unions, says young workers don’t want to be treated like drone workers, but like workers. people.
As many young people enter the job market, experts say they could be on the verge of changing the future of work in New Zealand.
From prioritizing mental health over burnout, to a desire for purpose, and an emphasis on work-life balance, young workers are highlighting important trends and employers are taking notice.
Dr Zoë Port, senior lecturer in management at Massey University and co-host of Stand Up, the youth wing of the Council of Trade Unions, said young workers wanted different things from previous generations.
“Young workers enter the workforce with a new set of values and expectations. The overriding theme is that they want to be treated like human beings, not worker drones who are just there to complete tasks,” Port said.
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Younger workers were more cynical about traditional hierarchical structures and less afraid to challenge management. This has led some employers to view them as lazy, authoritative and overly sensitive, she said.
But employers who were laying off young workers were missing an opportunity to engage in a new way of working, she said.
“A young worker in your organization who some might call a beneficiary, perhaps asks for more responsibilities? They might want more of a challenge, or be involved in the decisions? That should be seen as a good thing, these workers are engaged and want to contribute,” Port said.
Ines Mitgutsch, a 22-year-old E tū union organizer, said the changes in the workforce were not just due to young workers, but because workers in general were more aware of the conditions they wanted. .
“Of course there are differences in what younger and older workers want, but it’s not because they’re young, it’s because the last 40 years of neoliberalism have created a society where workers today face very different conditions than their parents saw,” Mitgutsch said.
With a high cost of living and a tight job market, many young workers had a high turnover rate moving from job to job. This has led to a drop in union membership among young workers, she said.
Data from Stats NZ showed that more than 80% of workers aged 15-34 were non-unionised. This is a rate of 5 to 10% higher than that of older workers.
Mary O’Keeffe, a partner at business coaching firm Greaterthan, said employers may need to drastically change the way they operate to get the best out of the younger generation.
Traditional organizational models in which power was at the top with a boss and distributed through the ranks may not work with younger workers, she said.
“This generation grew up on social media and really feels like they have their own voice. I think organizations that don’t equip themselves for a workforce that expects to hold power could find themselves at odds with their workforce,” O’Keeffe said.
To avoid this, organizations should create a distributed power model, where employees have the ability to complete tasks on their own, without having to ask their boss for permission, she said.
Changes in organizational structure were already happening in other countries, but New Zealand was still catching up, she said.
But over the past two years, the dial has begun to evolve into more innovative ways of working, she said.
“Flexible working is just the tip of the iceberg, and companies should be happy about it. This is a generation that will help solve the problems of social justice and climate change. Having people in an organization who understand these challenges can only be a good thing,” O’Keeffe said.
Gareth Kiernan, chief forecaster at Infometrics, said the trends young workers are currently seeing are likely to continue in the future.
Familiarity with remote working, combined with housing affordability issues in major hubs, could see a large proportion of younger workers choosing to work remotely from regions, he said.
A desire for work/life balance among younger workers could mean employers might be more willing to consider ideas such as a four-day week to keep workers on their side.