The rise of millennials and Gen Z: What HR needs to know

HR expert Tasha Enright explains how organisations and HR departments can better relate to millennials and Gen Z employees in the workplace.
By: | August 8, 2023

The relationship between millennials and Generation Z employees and their HR departments can differ, even if the latter tend to collectively stereotype the behaviours of both generations, said Tasha Enright, a self-described millennial HR leader and Board Director & HR Subcommittee Lead, *SCAPE SG. 

Speaking with HRM Asia, Enright expressed her empathy to the unique challenges that employees from both generations face and suggested that millennials are more adept at emulating leaders, adopt pro-business attitudes and take on specific personas and responsibilities to simplify the team’s approach and achieve goals.

Gen Z employees, on the other hand, want flexibility that prioritises their autonomy and interests first – not the employer, hiring manager or revenue/productivity. With differing attitudes towards work and the corporate environment in comparison to past generations, many Gen Z employees feel the tension of a corporate environment that wants more control over their time and how they work.

To attract millennials and Gen Z employees, Enright offered three strategies. First, HR teams must establish transparency and authenticity, and ensure their policies are clear and impartial to all employees, especially managers. “Young professionals can smell insincerity from a mile away – and wasting their time can get you ghosted the same way you would ghost them when hiring freezes.” 

Next, she divulged that the simplistic, lazy way of hiring people for the sake of visual virtue signalling does not work. “DE&I doesn’t mean having a population that looks like a United Colours of Benetton ad – HR can do better than play into easy wins or tired tropes.” She suggested that organisations utilise tools that augment manpower planning, undertake compensation reviews for equity across all demographics, and provide culture or interview guides to support potential candidates. 

Lastly, Enright opined that it was necessary to undertake a proactive approach to succession planning and career progression as they are at opposite ends of the spectrum, with each side balancing the other out. “When the employee lifecycle is less ‘hire to retire’ and more like ‘two years before crash and burnout’ or when leadership and HR fail to build internal candidate pools for leadership or specialist roles, the foundation of people and culture will collapse like a house of cards,” she said. 

READ MORE: Gen Z is taking over the workplace: 5 things HR leaders need to know

Enright concluded by emphasising the importance of CHROs to be open and clear with communication, as millennials and Gen Z are not willing to tolerate excuses about necessary tenure or play the waiting game to be recognised by their leaders. “Having open conversations about organisational challenges and coaching for desired behaviours/internal opportunities are going to pay off more than trying to cancel quiet quitting or rage applying,” she cautioned.

Join the Gen Z Rising in Asia: A Dynamic Force for Organisational Change at HR Tech Fest Connect 2023 to gain more insights into how organisations can better understand Gen Z employees, and build an inclusive workplace for a multi-generational workforce.