Demands of the New Workforce – What They Seek When Applying for a Job

Did you know that, roughly, we can count five generations in the workforce today?

We have the traditionalists (born before 1941 and retiring en masse), baby boomers (also retiring in high numbers and great speed), Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z, just exiting college and filling entry-level positions.

Having in mind that 3 out of 5 generations are either exiting or just entering the world of workforce, we are left with only two generations that may really count. Gen Xers and Millennials now have an unprecedented opportunity for career advancement.

At the same time, we can also claim that the future of numerous organizations depends on hiring and retaining the best Millennial and Gen Z talent. And that turned out not to be the easiest thing to do. For example, the point of difference when it comes to these generations is the curious and fresh philosophy of their members – they will actually quit a job if their personal values do not align with that of the company they work for. Quite a luxury, wouldn’t you agree?

Besides, having in mind a current “nickname” for the overall economic state – the gig economy (named so for the newest trend of young folks working multiple jobs, often for short periods of time), things are getting even more complicated. At least for the employer.

Traditional ways of recruitment fail over and over again, so companies are urged to rethink their compensation and benefits plans, as well as how they engage with the best young talent. The first thing was clearly defining workforce categories. Here they are, a beautiful blend of traditional and non-traditional roles:

  • Nomad works outside the office, some or all the time.
  • Freelance is a non-permanent worker.
  • Unassigned works anywhere, either within or out of the office.
  • Shared Address is often on the road, and they share desks, offices, or cubicles.
  • The resident is an old fashioned worker, sitting in the office.
  • Co-working is a touchdown community, composed of individuals, groups, or companies.

As a matter of fact, this list is the source of all benefits and challenges to both employees and employers all over the globe.


What they get out of this new segmentation is freedom, flexibility, time-saving, creativity and productivity boost. On the other hand, finding consistency in workflow might be hard if not impossible, and a constant lack of benefits, socialization and interaction can take a serious toll.

The Employers

They now have full access to an expanded workforce and people from around the world that can be well suited for the job. However, now the struggle has become to attract and retain talents who highly value things such as flexibility and freedom.

Additionally, the absence of face-to-face communication is significant and that pretty much changes the corporate culture. There is an intensive need to cater to individual needs rather than having a one-size-fits-all approach.

Mister and Mrs. Know It All

Another perk of these modern times we are living and working is a need and possibility that everyone is exposed and we can know almost everything about anyone. And, mind you, this is not an advantage of big companies solely. Employees want to know their employers. They want to know who they are working for so they can identify and resonate with a company and its culture.

Not so strange and not so complicated, one might say. However, it is. Keep in mind that we are dealing here with a span of fresh generations who take seriously any moral implications when choosing the right employer. To keep it simple, it is not a one-way street anymore. Just as much as companies can turn down a candidate, a right or even perfect candidate might decline politely the position if according to him – something is off.

To avoid rejection, meet your superstar employees – millennials and Gen Zers.

Strategy for Attracting Millennials

These pioneers of the digital world are very much used to technology-driven recruitment and retention. By embracing new methods, such as platforms, for example, you will prove to them that you have no interest in archaic technology – the one that doesn’t exactly promote collaboration, communication, and efficiency.

LinkedIn, Glassdoor, job boards, career-building sites, and other industry-specific forums are all important channels for HR departments to participate in and monitor.

According to a Gallup poll, almost half of all working millennials are disengaged from their job and as much as a third of them changed their job in the past year (three times more than any other generation before).

So, be aware if you are doing things properly. Try following this advice:

  • What they want (and want it now) is continuous improvement and the prospect of bettering themselves. You can write off the list of this requirement by offering career guidance and coaching beyond an employee’s daily responsibilities.
  • They need to fully understand their individual responsibilities and how they fit into greater business objectives  and your mission.
  • Have their job expectations clear. Create, offer and explain the position and task structure, as well as how they’ll be evaluated.

Generation Z expectations and behaviors in the workplace

Be careful with these ones. They are first truly digital natives and if you are not one of them, read this cautiously. Never lose from sight that they spend their whole life online. Every information they need is at their fingertips, since forever. This is what characterizes Gen Zens in the workplace:

  • They grew up with a recession breathing to their neck. No wonder they are so security-based.  Their career-orientated personalities are much more risk-averse than their millennial fellows.
  • They seek balance, more than any generation before. They live in a world with more than ever successful start-ups where individuals have more control over their work/life balance. A traditional 9 to 5 jobs are now overrated and considered old fashioned and overrun by new career modules. Magic words for them are “flexible hours”. This will get their attention.
  • Gen Z may be the first post-website age group. They expect more disruption (even more from millennials) of the way organizations recruit and retain talent. You can beat it by using new apps and platforms that provide a more detailed approach to job-seeking.

Balancing the generations

Even though the Milenials and Generation Z are slowly becoming a majority in the workplace, there still needs to be a balance with the other generations.

The new generations have a completely new outlook on what their work environment should look like, yet they could actually benefit from the experience of the veterans in their company. And the same is true in the opposite direction. The older generation have the experience, but sometimes lack insight into what the today’s market looks like. Sometimes they don’t feel the same sense of entitlement for work-life balance as the Generation Z does that could lead them to living more fulfilling lives.

Bringing them together and merging experience with new perspectives can be a recipe for success. Organize team activities that bring everyone together, make it easy for people to share their ideas, give everyone a chance to take part.

And if you’re looking to truly merge the worlds of different generations in the workplace, drop the titles for just one day.

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