Fickle and frivolous as millennial and GenZ work culture may seem to Baby Boomers, there is no doubt that these generations have drastically changed the very notion of ‘work’.

Today, work no longer gets tagged with physical offices embedded in rigid geo-locations. It has evolved into a task-based ritual with flexible working hours and global deadlines. In addition, conventional economic theories of work and satisfaction that blindly link the amount of work to a direct proportion of monetary value are failing. Young people don’t just want money; they seek value in their work. And employers have displayed a willingness to acknowledge the new rules of the game and adapt accordingly.

Today, many companies have gone beyond ‘Mission’ and ‘Vision’, and incorporated a third pillar, Purpose, in their business statements. New leadership positions like ‘Coaches’ and ‘Chief Energy Officers’ have also emerged. The main job of these leaders is to understand employees and their intrinsic motivations.

There are a few clear trends that are emerging.

Millennials, Gen Z workers want purpose

Millennials and GenZ workers joining the workforce are trying to incorporate purpose into their work through a method called job crafting. It is a measure through which they cut through their shared dread of work monotony and charter new targets by tailoring the ‘ask’ of their roles. This helps these ‘wanderlust-y’ generations find new ways to interact with their jobs and remove the mental blocks that hinder them from experiencing new heights within the same profile.  Millennial job crafters hold social impact as one of the salient features of their work and may find it more rewarding to receive additional resources as a signal of organizational support. Employers also gain in terms of the added productivity, engagement and loyalty of these employees.

Acknowledgement matters

Besides purpose, employees also prize acknowledgement. Being active on social networking platforms, they are used to getting feedback within seconds of posting—and that also influences their ideas of ‘acceptable’ response time for recognition in the workplace.

This is not the ‘trophy kid’ behavior that many associate with millennials who need to be awarded for doing satisfactory work. They put a premium on professional development and hence it becomes crucial for companies to provide in-built roads to opportunities that millennials can explore and learn from.

Acknowledgement loops are easy to set up. Company blogs can spotlight employee achievements. Gamification features such as recognition competitions can motivate and reward good performance.

Virtual, autonomous workplaces are inevitable

The best element of the virtual workplace is that acknowledgement and appreciation of the work doesn’t depend on physical connection to the team and can be easily carried through virtual channels as well, which is exactly what a lot of new-age leaders have realised and acted upon.

The present workforce needs to have a greater sense of autonomy than our previous generations were content with. You work in a combination of physical and virtual teams and identify yourself in evolving roles and designations with every new assignment. Remote working provisions, flexible work-timings and four-day work-weeks in countries like UK, New Zealand and at firms like Microsoft have increased time for employees to be able to carve out initiatives of interest and passion to them. There is a new kind of organisational management system in town: holacracy (from the Greek word holos). It refers to an autonomous, self-sufficient unit dependent on a larger component. The one-way ladder to top corporate offices is abandoned and the system opens up different avenues to equalise the power structure and empower the workforce. It seeks to end the rigid traditional ghettoes of power and boost development with the fuel of merit and effective collaboration. Millennials and GenZ are taking steps towards a more liberating work scenario, where one can choose an ‘office’ from anywhere in the world and also custom-design work regimes to boost their productivity.

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  • Swati Sudhakaran

    Policy Consultant, Lover of All Dogs and Self-Proclaimed Foodie

    Swati Sudhakaran is currently working as a policy consultant at a global communications firm in New Delhi.   She is a Journalism graduate from Delhi University and holds a Master's in Public Policy. Mallu girl, born and brought up in the National Capital. She loves to be rattled and bewildered by Indian politics.  She can eat anything that walks (no, not cannibalistic - not yet) and has taken upon her life's mission to embark on a food adventure every now and then. In the Era of Information, she is one of the millennial victims of information overload but also one of the rare ones not on Insta!