What The “Future” Work Force Wants

what the work force wants5 ‘Must Have’s’ The Future Work Force Wants

The work force composition is facing major changes coming up in the future years. Recent research from Millennial Branding and Beyond.com, titled ‘The Multi-Generational Job Search’ highlighted the change in labour market composition in the future and what they are looking for in future employers.

First, let’s look at who the future work force primarily is. According to a report out of the Australian National University by McDonald & Temple 2008, projected generational participation work composition in 2018 as 56% Gen Y, 28% Gen X, 14% Baby Boomers, and 2% Gen Z (or Millennials). The last of the Gen Y’s are entering the workforce from now and the next 3 years.

So what do Gen Y want? According to this research the following are the top 5.

  1. Career Progression

When once upon a time, baby boomers expected a job for life, Gen Y’s are not so attached to job security, in terms of the one position, but do have strong expectations to move upward.

This is the generation that has been brought up being told they are ‘awesome’, and they can ‘achieve what ever they want in life’, and they have the full expectation of the employer to provide the path for them. If they don’t see it, they will move on to an organisation, and even industry, who can provide it. Gen Y’s have no compunction about moving back home, with ageing parents even, to make progression happen whether it is via a step-back- job to go forward, new study and qualifications,  or starting a business. They can smell their own success and will make it happen, with or without you.

  1. Flexibility/work-life balance

After career progression, work life balance is the second ‘must have’ an organisation needs to demonstrate. Gen X’s fought long and hard to break down the inflexibility of the generations before them around ‘Family Friendly’ policies. Gen Y’s now expect organisations to deliver an increasing degree of flexibility around family, and personal pursuits. The core of Gen Y’s are hitting parenthood in the droves at the moment and with a mini baby-boom experienced in the population for the last 3-5 years women, and men, want higher involvement with their children on a day to day basis. Parenthood aside, Gen Y’s have been imbued in an increasing world of technological change that provided flexibility in the childhood they have grown up in. Now in their mind, it provides the ability to be flexible with where, how, and when an individual, and even team, works. So if, for example they have grown up with multiple ways to listen to their music, via walk-man, traditional CD player, in the car, and now on smart phones and Apple TV, why can’t work be as flexible? Using different ways, formats, tools and locations to achieve the same result.

  1. Good salary

Gen X’s who splashed into the workforce with Wall Street character Gorden Gekko’s catch ‘greed is good’ still value salary as #1, however Gen Y’s whilst seeing it as highly important, are willing to sacrifice a little for a combination of career progression and work/life balance. Traditional salary structuring will be challenged for more innovative ways of compensation and valuing what Gen Y want ahead of, or instead of salary.

  1. Recognisable Good Brand

The Gen Y’s have grown up with being heavily and directly marketed to in their teens, when pocket money no longer bought a bag of mixed lollies, or the latest Archie comic book, it bought brand credibility. This generation actually had their shoes stolen right off their feet, not by impoverished hobo’s, but brand savvy street gangs who had rapper celebrities endorsing big names like Nike, Sony and Pepsi. Like celebrity endorsement, credibility by association is important to the Gen Y. They are looking to create a resume of recognised organisations who are serious about their branding, including employer branding, to match their Gucci handbags (even if they are fake) and Savile Row suit.  If they hit your website and career site and they don’t have a high level marketing experience, your credibility is dust. In addition current Gen Y employees will need to be continually marketed to on the internal employer value proposition (EVP). This will see a new breed of HR experts with combined high level marketing coms expertise emerge in the future.

  1. Non-monetary benefits

Gen Y’s are seeking a range of smaller adjustments in the work landscape, that add up to being of value to them. e.g, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), is becoming more important and having the flexibility to have access to, and use whatever software, opensource ware and free ware is available to do their job better. They don’t want to be held back from achieving by outdated policies and legislation.  Good management always ranks high, and being highly developed and trained to lead a new generation of Millennials coming up behind them, with even more differing expectations is on their mind. Less structure, more autonomy, and the full expectations of options available to them. Innovative forward thinking is no longer the coveted bastion of the ICT industry, Gen Y’s are expecting it in all industries.

Whether leader baby boomers like it or not, with sheer numbers on their side, Gen Y’s in the workforce will force change in areas such as policy and legislation that will see a brave, new world emerge. Be prepared for the reality of labour market composition of the future or feel the consequences.


Anne-Marie Orrock

Anne-Marie Orrock is Director of Corporate Canary HR Consulting and helps companies with developing the sophistication of their Human Resources & recruitment strategy around new technologies, social media and talent branding.

Anne-Marie is a sought after media commentator on HR, leadership, and business and has appeared in various publications including Sydney Morning Herald, Boss Magazine, NETT Magazine, Marie Claire, CLEO, My Business, Dynamic Business, Cosmopolitan & HR Monthly. In June 2012 Anne-Marie Co-authored ‘Mind Your Own Business’, a guide for small businesses, published by Mithra Publishing in the UK.

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