What Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X and Boomers want from their workplace

Jonathan Perumal, Country Manager for ANZ at Safeguard Global

Safeguard Global released  “Generations at work: What Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X and Boomers want”, with data prepared by Hanover Research, revealing the experiences of workers across different generations, and how their desires in the workplace compare.

What were the insights of Safeguard Global’s study?

The findings, taken from a survey of 525 respondents across five countries, uncover the values, challenges, and drivers of an engaged workforce, and how it is changing worldwide.

Jonathan Perumal, GEO Solutions Manager, Australia for Safeguard Global, said: “The findings give Australian companies insight into what they should consider when expanding overseas or hiring globally. Workers are looking for greater flexibility, diversity and opportunity in their workplaces. Businesses that take this on board and adopt new employment policies will have an edge in being able to better understand and anticipate employees’ needs.”

Workers want a four-day work week and flexible hours

Four-day work weeks remain rare, with only a small number of respondents currently working under this arrangement. Just 12% of Gen Z and Millennials surveyed already work a four-day week, followed by five percent of Gen X and 2% of Boomers. However, workers across all generations expressed a greater preference to adopt a four-day work week.

Boomers are most likely to want a four-day work week, at 55%, perhaps because they are the least likely to have this arrangement in place. Gen Z and Gen X follow at 41%, with Millennials at 35%. Several countries have trialled a four-day work week with great success.

Almost all of the companies who participated in 4 Day Week pilot program have committed to, or plan to continue, with a four-day work week, citing positive outcomes in performance, productivity and overall experience. An Aussie trial has been underway since last August.

As workers continue to seek a better work-life balance and more control over their time, 40% in the Safeguard Global study considered flexible hours the most important aspect of a job. “This demonstrates that flexibility is key to the modern workplace, where performance is measured by outcomes, not the hours workers spend at their desks,” said Perumal.

“The global coronavirus pandemic reminded us of how important maintaining a good work-life balance is to mental health, and it is clear that employees value companies that prioritise their well-being. Companies with people-centric policies such as a four-day work week and flexible hours will attract talent and improve the effectiveness of their workforce, in turn lifting overall business performance and helping to ensure long-term growth and success.”

Workers want to be part of a diverse global team

Also, 74% said they would leave their company for the opportunity to work on a globally diverse team, making this an attractive trait for businesses to possess. Global teams offer greater diversity of thought and experience, which not only contributes to innovation and business success, but also gives employees more opportunities to learn and develop.

On a generational level, Gen Z are the most likely to want the chance to work on a global team, with 53% rating it the most important opportunity a workplace could provide. This was followed by Millennials at 32%, with Gen X and Boomers last at 22%.

These findings, coupled with the fact that a third of Aussie businesses are having difficulty finding suitable staff, according to the ABS’ latest Business Conditions and Sentiments report, show that firms should expand beyond national borders and embrace a global workforce.

Professional development opportunities attract and retain staff

Professional development opportunities was the most important job characteristic by respondents. The specific opportunities most desired by each generation are as follows:

  • 43% of Gen Z want to learn from working with a global team
  • 44% of Millennials want to develop their leadership and management skills
  • 44% of Gen X and 51% of Boomers want to learn how to use more technology or tools

“By facilitating access to professional development opportunities like global perspectives, leadership pathways and technical training programs, firms ensure their can employees are satisfied with their career prospects and maximise their contribution,” concluded Perumal.