I snapped this photo with my iPhone when I was in Bratislava, Slovakia. The little boy is standing on what was formerly a military bunker in the Iron Curtain zone along the Danube River, across from Austria. What I assume is grandpa, is a person that remembers a much different time. A worse time. The little boy has no idea what came before him and finds the old, bullet ridden bunker a fun piece of playground equipment. I don’t know these people and this picture hangs in my office as a profound reminder to me that the world can and does get better.
I believe the workplace gets better too and generation Z will find some fantastic opportunities there.
Here are some human resource changes and laws that are improving the workplace for the next generation of workers:
- Diversity and equality protections: There are laws such as Title VII that make it illegal for employers to discriminate and most companies have recognized and embraced the value of diversity in the workplace. Our grandparents faced this challenges, our kids will find it less so.
- Ability to work from anywhere: Technology has changed the working landscape. Many jobs are now capably of being accomplished from anywhere. A web designer can log in from the lodge at the ski resort and an accountant can audit and file tax returns from their own living room. Not every job will move in this direction but if a person wishes to seek out a remote career, the possibilities are there.
- Rewards that align with values: This Harvard Business Review article talks about how companies are understanding how to convey their value and be rewarding to the workers, not just the shareholders. This can be accomplished through open communication, recognizing strengths and allowing for individual ownership in jobs. These types of employers exist today and are becoming more prevalent.
- The entrepreneurial spirit: According to this article from Forbes only 13% of Millennials want to climb the corporate ladder, whereas 67% want to start their own business. This is exciting!
- Green technologies: Caring for the environment is not new, but doing so through company policy is. The next generation workforce will not only seek out green policies, they will expect it.
- Wage and hour laws: Wage and hour laws are strict and nearly all employers comply. The days of misclassification and avoidance of overtime are diminishing.
- Corporate Social Responsibility: Companies are learning that doing work outside of the walls and into the community continues the cycle of good workers. The Millennials are driving more of this and it will be part of business for Generation Z.
- Self-Expression: Within the last 5 years I have seen more and more companies loosen their standard business professional dress policies. There is wider acceptance to tattoos, piercings and hair colors. These types of self-expression are no longer contained to niche industries but found in legal, medical and educational services as well.
- Communication and information access: This drives all of the bullet points. Like no other time in history, communication is accessible and unlimited. Our incoming workforce has grown up with technology and lives on information platforms online. Companies can’t hide and will lose if they have ulterior motives or hidden agendas. Instead, companies are embracing new transparencies and acting in everyone’s best interest and using that as their competitive strategy.