What Do All Generations Value Most?

All generations generally look for work-life balance and flexibility...

What Do All Generations Value Most?
Photo by Giacomo Lucarini on Unsplash

I recently watched this Korean drama, "My Father is Strange" featured in 2017. In the series, a young school-going nephew uses acronyms in his conversation. The scene was very comical as the adults were lost and struggling to understand the young boy as he spoke with his acronyms. At one time, my girl started using IDK (I don't know), IDC (I don't care), WYM (What you mean), and many more in her daily routine. One day, she started to use AFK, I was practically flabbergasted and got her to taboo the word immediately. Later I realized AFK meant "Away from the Keyboard". Being an embarrassed Gen Xer, I then realized that I am totally out of their world.

Recently, she came to me with PFP? Again, this is alien to me and later I found out PFP is Picture for Proof. *lol*

Gone are the days, we commonly used ASAP, TBC, FYI, FYA, PPL, and many more. Today, there is more rapid growth in using these acronyms due to social media. Is this going to be our future communication with the ongoing trend? Will the earlier generations be able to adapt to these current and future generations, especially in the workplace? But, before we even think of what the current generation wants, do we know what are the common needs of all generations?

The Big Quit

The business world is transforming, and we are in the era of digital disruption. Having said that, we see the wave of great resignation. News is everywhere on the 4.4 million Americans who voluntarily left their full-time jobs end of 2021. The wave hit U.S. and Europe while Australia saw this happening soon. The NAB (National Australia Bank) 2021 survey reported that 1 in 5 Australia changed jobs last year and anticipated 1 in 4 soon. In the Asia Pacific, SAP's research found that 40% of respondents agreed that more employees are quitting compared to the previous year.

What About Malaysia?

Randstad Workmonitor's survey reported that 39% of respondents change jobs in early 2021. 73% are considering jobs outside of Malaysia. Whereas, Malaysia Employers Federations' (MEF) view that this wave will not reach Malaysia that soon. Regardless, should we need to be prepared for the waves?

The Big Quit will impact people like us, the workers, our workplace, and our work as many have seen smart technologies have disrupted our way of doing things today. So, what do organizations need to do to accommodate the current, future, and former generations?

The Generations and Their Outlook

Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reported that 56% of Gen Zer, 49% of Millennials, 31% of Gen Xer, and 18% of Boomers are more likely to switch jobs beyond 2021. Gen Zer and Millennials are the greater risks to change jobs soonest. These Gen Zer and Millennials look forward to work-life balance, the ability to work remotely, and having more control over their work schedule even as their salary and job description remains the same. 

The Generations and Their Traits

Let's explore these generations and their characteristic;

  • 1946-1964, Baby Boomer aka the Boomers or the hippies & yuppies

They are known as Fit to Structure and have been in the workforce for at least four decades. According to Pew Research Center, at least 30 million Americans Boomers retired in 2020, a surge of 3.2 million compared to the previous year.

So are these boomers fully retiring? Express Employment Professionals and Harris Polls reported that 79% of 57 to 75 years old would opt for semi-retirement. Many of them will consider gig or short-term consulting work so that they have a work-life balance

We heard that 4,360 national teachers opted for early retirement as of late 2021. Is this happening in Malaysia soon?

  • 1965 - 1979, Generation X, the baby bust or latchkey generation

Generation X is an independent breed. This Gen Xers is known to be resourceful. This is the generation that has experienced dual or both working parents thus having themselves accustomed to caring for themselves since young. Surprisingly, Gen Xers will be the ones that will thrive in the digital world as they are the generation that has experienced before the boom of technology. They have an excellent understanding of both the analog and digital worlds. Gen X appreciates work-life balance and freedom. They prefer fewer rules and like to communicate directly with leaders. 

  • 1980 - 1994, Generation Y, the Millennials or the ME Gen

Millennials are collaborative. They are the first generation that grew up in the internet era. They are seen to be the generation that sees the decline in having fewer children compared to their predecessors. They like entrepreneurship and prefer a flexible work schedule to accommodate their "ME time", according to polls done by Time Magazine. In hindsight, LiveScience cited that Millennials are known to jump from job to job. 

  • 1995 to 2012, Generation Z, the iGen or The Zoomers

Gen Zer is born and ingrained to be Digital Native. David and Jonah Stillman term them "Phigital", as this generation is unable to see a clear line between physical and digital. Technology is the extension of their brain as they were born with 24x7 screens, devices, and gadgets. The virtual world is their reality. It's no longer about the physical workplace, it is the culture that looks forward to connecting physically and on the screen.

Most Gen Zer parents are Gen Xers who teach them to be independent and break away from the traditional education, career, and work culture. They were taught to explore different opportunities to determine their choice of work. This Gen Zer will look forward to more than one source of income and uses their niche for gig work during their free time. 

Business Insider cited that 65% of Gen Zer like to dictate their terms and will look for work and jobs till they felt meaningful and fit to their values. Gen Zer values flexibility, authenticity, disruptive tech competency, competitive remunerations, and trust according to Kudos, the employee engagement, analytics, and culture platform.

What Do All Generations Value Most?

What we gathered most from the above is all the generations generally look towards flexibility and work-life balance. LinkedIn Global Talents Trends 2022 also shows that 63% of professionals opted for work-life balance as a top priority for their new work. Mary Alice, the CHRO of Thomson Reuters saw this as workers wanting more flexibility so that they can fit work into their personal lives.

These results are also shown in the Limeade survey as 74% of employees wanted flexibility in their work hours. 46% of them got it, and 18% were found to be more engaged in their work. 

At the end of the day, the future employment is no longer about the legacy way of work culture with a hierarchical mindset and model. All generations regardless are looking towards the future of work with the better flexible work culture. Therefore, should an organization start working on the flexible work model? Should they prepare for The Future Work model now before the Big Quit strike them?

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