In recent months we have talked at length about the Great Resignation and the COVID pandemic. Both have permanently impacted the modern workplace in ways we will not fully understand for a long time. Yet to the extent we understand those changes right now, we also understand that the modern workforce is changing too. So are their expectations.
As a set up to the rest of this post, we want to draw your attention to research conducted in 2021 by George Washington University professor James Bailey. His data clearly shows a shift in workforce attitudes across different generations.
For example, among the three generations that make up most of the current workforce—baby boomers, Gen Xers, and millennials—the baby boom generation is largely ambivalent about returning to the office. Gen Xers are the most enthusiastic while millennials are the most opposed. Bailey also discovered that millennials have never been all that interested in working in the office anyway.
With the knowledge of different perspectives across the generations, here are four expectations of the modern workforce that absolutely should not be ignored:
1. A Hybrid Work Model
The modern workforce has become accustomed to working remotely. Workers who do not need to be physically present to do their jobs do not necessarily feel attached to the office. Bailey's research demonstrates that, as do numerous other studies done since the start of the pandemic. If nothing else, don't lose sight of the fact that a certain segment of America's workforce is willing to give up other benefits in exchange for the ability to work remotely.
2. Customized Benefits Packages
Basic health insurance and retirement plans are so commonplace that they no longer turn heads. The modern workforce wants more. Not only are they looking for complete benefits packages that combine traditional medical and retirement plans with dental, vision, and other voluntary benefits, but they also expect to be able to customize packages to their own needs along with an easy, online enrollment experience.
A 2017 study from LIMRA demonstrates as much. The study found that 73% of U.S. working adults want the ability to customize their benefits. That was five years ago. If anything, the Great Resignation and COVID pandemic have only increased the expectation of benefits customization.
3. More Company Feedback
The modern workforce expects to be able to contribute more feedback that helps the company grow and gives them an opportunity to be heard by their employers. Likewise, they want and expect more feedback from management. Despite beliefs to the contrary, younger workers are not averse to feedback. They are not afraid of failure.
Research data shows that 97% of Gen Z workers are perfectly fine with receiving regular feedback from management. More than 63% actually say that regular feedback is important to sticking with a job. Today's workforce wants feedback. They want to give it; they want to get it.
4. A Family Focus
Above everything else, the Great Resignation and COVID pandemic have made people realize just how important family is. Today's workforce is no longer interested in the grind mentality. They are willing to work hard and give employers their best. However, they are not willing to sacrifice their families to increase company profits. They expect employers to not only understand this, but also to make an effort to help employees focus more on their families. The modern workforce expects:
- Childcare assistance
- Better balance
- A family focused culture
It is time for employers to view the jobs they offer through the eyes of parents who have lives outside of the office. It is time to consider young people and their interests and passions separate from work. In short, the family focus needs to be stronger.
As a benefits consultant, you cannot change the way your clients do business. But you can keep them abreast of what the modern workforce expects. Through effective consulting and thorough research, you can point them to the right benefits packages and HR strategies that will equip them to recruit and retain top talent while growing your own business at the same time.