Insight - The post-generational workforce

Working from home is now part of the new normal following the Covid-19 pandemic, and the practice may continue even after.

Organisations have traditionally leaned heavily on workers’ age and generation to differentiate talent strategies.

However, with today’s workforce spanning five generations and the Gen-Z poised to enter, using a single demographic lens is proving to be of limited value.

The Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends 2020 found that 70% of organisations believe leading multigenerational workforces is important for their success over the next 12–18 months. However, only 10% feel ready to address this trend, and 6% strongly believe that their leaders are equipped to lead a multigenerational workforce effectively.

The current pandemic has disrupted the way of working worldwide. This has forced corporate leaders to adapt and rethink how they can take their organisation and people forward.

In Malaysia, organisations are still very reliant on broad assumptions on generations and gut feel to manage their talent.

This needs to change for people to respond and thrive.

The recent research shows that generational differences are shrinking in areas such as work-life flexibility, expectations of loyalty and job security, and expectations of advancement.

Compounding the diminishing relevance of generation is the fact that the generation that has been the greatest beneficiary of a generational focus – the millennials – is often not happy at work due to a range of reasons such as compensation, career advancement, learning opportunities, work-life balance, and culture.

In another recent survey, the 2020 Deloitte Millennial Survey, Malaysian millennials attributed their stress to a wide variety of reasons such as finances, career, family welfare, and health.

Taken together, the evidence from Deloitte’s Human Capital Trends research and Millennial Survey suggests that there is a great opportunity for organisations to look beyond generation to understand workforce needs by harnessing the substantial amount of workforce data that they possess today.

The opportunity ahead

The good news is that a wide array of workforce analytics tools and technologies are readily available to organisations seeking a strategy change. Organisations today have the opportunity to apply consumer marketing insights and data analytics to the design of workforce management practices based on a deeper understanding of individual behaviours, values, and attitudes, as well as demographics, career, and life stages.

Workforce analytics technologies have also made significant advancements in recent years, with the cost of acquiring such technologies being made more affordable.

As organisations and human resource teams increasingly use data science and analytical platforms to make sense of their workforce data to solve challenges in productivity, retention, and engagement, this is a good opportunity for organisations to reinvent their talent strategies.

The post-generational approach holds the potential for organisations to recover and thrive in a post-Covid world. By meeting workers’ needs and expectations in ways that are more meaningful to them and more beneficial to the enterprise, this approach would pay dividends in better engagement and performance.

Lee Yun-Han is the director of Deloitte Consulting Southeast Asia. Views expressed here are his own.

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