The coronavirus pandemic is an extremely difficult time for organizations and their leadership who are trying to prioritize the health of their workforce whilst minimizing the impact on operations and revenue. As health authorities issue rapidly-changing guidance and leadership teams evaluate short-term strategy, Millennials and Gen-Z have skills and tendencies that are well-suited for navigating through these difficult decisions. Organizations should lean on them for opinions and guidance which in turn will reduce longer-term attrition.
Reducing contact with individuals is the authoritative advice offered by health organizations across the world during this pandemic and whilst not every worker has a job that allows them to work from home, those that can are largely encouraged to do so. Professionals have highlighted some of the struggles of implementing a work from home system, but even with a workforce willing to be flexible in these circumstances, some organizations are insisting on keeping the office open, even when the rest of the building is closed.
Millennials and Gen-Z crave flexibility in the workplace and whilst this is an extreme situation, their insight and views can help leaders successfully implement work-from-home solutions, especially where there is no existing policy. This is an opportunity to poll your most independent workers, across generations, to discuss aspects of their job that can be done remotely and share potential solutions. Technology companies are offering enhanced access to their products and there are many affordable options out there to foster collaborative work. Be open to encouraging the same office culture remotely and be honest on concepts and technologies that you do not understand. This is a great chance to see and develop new skills in your team that will be useful in the long-run and create future leaders of your organization, especially by leaning on Millennials and Gen-Z.
This could also be an opportunity for organizational transformation. The recent experience of a group of Millennials who work at a global consulting firm highlighted this, when leadership stalled on whether to allow staff to leave the city at the start of the pandemic — even though they were fully committed to their work. Whilst the initial phases of this dialogue were somewhat chaotic, this group spoke up and enabled a change in mindset — highlighting that the people looking to depart would get a sense of safety but would remain accountable should they have to come back to the city for a client emergency. Events have turned to being fully remote, and employees now feel a deeper sense of loyalty to the organization and are more willing to be flexible because management demonstrated trust in their work .
Millennials and Gen-Z are mobile and willing to take new opportunities, regardless of the situation. Promoting accessibility and openness during a difficult time will prevent them from job hunting on the extra downtime they have. Poor decisions are magnified in times like these, and their comfort with technology allows them to interview quickly — something prospective employers could take advantage of.
What extra steps could leadership be taking and cognisant of in the current changing times that leans on the skills of their Millennial and Gen-Z talent pool?
There are many challenges around the coronavirus pandemic and high-level issues that require a lot of thought and attention. However, during this time of uncertainty, an organization’s reactions shine a spotlight on the deeper issues and connection workers feel — if there is little direction or trust, Millennials will not stay. The Millennial workforce is already mobile and with that can bring positives to an organization during difficult times. Now is the time to capitalize on fresh thinking and new ideas and not inadvertently leave the door open for your best employees to leave.