Employers managing multigenerations of staff “in the dark”

GRiD age research

The  latest example from a plethora of surveys is published today to add more fuel to the suspicion that “Generation Y NOT ME?” either needs slapping down or is being grossly misrepresented. “The Workplace Revolution”, by recruiter Adecco Group reports that half of those aged 34 and under – Generation Y – (47 per cent) want a promotion every two years, compared to just a fifth (22 per cent) of UK workers as a whole. But the report also warns that employers that fail to engage, motivate and retain their best employees across all ages risk damaging productivity and competitiveness.

Peter Searle, CEO of Adecco Group explained: “Employers face a serious set of challenges and cannot risk alienating any section of their workforce. They must instead appeal to and cater for a multitude of conflicting needs across different generations. Embracing and managing the expectations of today’s younger workforce will be critical for future business success.”

Aside from the headline-grabbing Gen Y data, the report maps the course of cultural, legal and demographic change to the UK labour market over the last 40 years. With more women in the workplace, increased numbers of older workers, more part-timers and more migrant workers, and a surge in legislation, modern working practices are almost unrecognisable from those in Britain in the 1970s, yet the report warns – many employers have failed to keep pace and, as a result, are managing in the dark.

Some of the key insights from the report include that the workforce is increasingly mobile, with half (49 per cent) of UK workers prepared to travel up to an hour a day for the right job and 16 per cent prepared to travel up to two hours – increasing for Generation Y.  The lesson here is that employers should consider extending their recruitment search beyond the local talent pool to ensure they have the pick of the country’s most promising professionals.

While employees are prepared to travel for work, eight out of ten (85 per cent) of workers believe they have the right to work on a part time basis and over three quarters (76.6 per cent) feel they have the right to work from home. Attitudes towards flexible working differ between generations, with well over three quarters (84 per cent) of Generation Y believing they have a right to work from home, compared to only two thirds (68 per cent) of over 55s.

Generation Y sees development opportunities as their biggest barrier (23 per cent) – suggesting that employers are not providing sufficient opportunities for Generation Y workers to progress at a rate they’re satisfied with.

The report calls for employers to tackle issues head-on by:

  • recognising the diverse nature of their workforces and the differing expectations of different categories of employee, flexing their approaches as appropriate;
  • addressing an engagement conundrum to offer opportunities that appeal to all including  women, an ageing workforce and a growing migrant workforce;
  • taking a longer term view of skills requirements and plan ahead for how they will plug future potential skills gaps.

 Click  here to download the new report, “Managing the modern workforce – Workplace Revolution

by Sara Bean