Generation Z and Millennials are bringing change to the tech workforce

Generation Z and Millennials will make up more than half of the tech workforce by 2025, according to the World Economic Forum.

Over the past year, The Great Resignation, a mass exodus of workers from their jobs, has taught many companies and leaders the importance of caring for their employees, as well as how to retain and attract employees.

According to a recent survey by PwC, IT workers under 30 are two and a half times less likely to stay long-term in a job than those over 50. And IT workers are more inclined than workers in other areas to quit, with IT workers showing a 10.2 per cent lower intent to stay than non-IT employees.

“Companies will be obsessed with their customer journey, for example, but not spend as much dedicated time and resources on what the employee journey looks like, from that first point of contact so that they understand what the company is, from the time that they apply through to onboarding,” said Andrea Bartlett, director of people operations at Humi, an HR, payroll, insurance, and benefits solution company for medium-sized businesses across Canada.

Andrea Bartlett, director of people operations at Humi

Bartlett is an advocate for change in the workplace, appealing to the Gen Z and Millennial workforce by altering HR policies, payroll, and benefits.

From a technology perspective, Bartlett said that leveraging Humi’s tool has been critical to helping companies transform their workforce.

With the help of technology and an engaged workforce, Humi has been able to redesign a number of company level policies for its customers. For example, it has helped implement policies for customers surrounding enhanced leave types such as parental leave, bereavement leave, and miscarriage leave, as well as training and development, and professional development.

“So we’ve been quite progressive in some of these workplace benefits and really been a part of helping coach a number of companies who are looking to make change, even at a smaller scale,” she said.

New changes for employee benefits have also been added within the company. Last year, Humi tested out summer hours, to see the impact of what a shorter workweek would do for the business.

“It actually led to the implementation of Humi’s permanent longer weekends where we close operations at 1 p.m. on Fridays to help folks be able to disconnect and focus on what they need to within the week, while also using that time on Fridays to really start to transition into the weekend,” Bartlett said.

Gartner survey also revealed that employees want workplace flexibility and value human-centric work policies. Gartner found that 65 per cent of IT employees said that whether they can work flexibly affects their decision to continue working at a company. Sixty three per cent of workers prefer and expect hybrid work options, while about 20 per cent expect fully remote work as an option.

Rob Khazzam, chief executive officer and co-founder of Float, a Canadian corporate spend management platform launched in 2019, ensures that employees work from where they want to.

Rob Khazzam, CEO and co-founder of Float

“The vast majority of our employees are remote, and our work culture is remote. So all of our meetings, all of our planning processes, they’re all done remotely. If you do come into an office, it’s really just so that you have some space to work. All of our meetings and all of our planning processes are also online. It’s something we’ve been accustomed to from the beginning and have been planning around,” Khazzam said.

A younger workforce can also bring a whole new set of skills to the workplace.

study from Deloitte and the Network of Executive Women (NEW) called “Welcome to Generation Z”, revealed that the future of work will call for a return of the Renaissance figure: a person with many talents, interests, and areas of knowledge. It requires a fusion of four key work skills: Digital tools and technology skills, comfort with analytics and data, business management skills, and design and creative skills.

According to Khazzam, having a younger workforce, like Float does, means employees are much more comfortable with technology.

“I think having a younger workforce means that people are much more familiar with technology, and they have much higher standards and expectations for what user experiences look like… The modern employee and younger generations want to use great tools. … So they often bring them into companies and they can become frustrated working in a business that doesn’t use them because they know there’s a better way to use these tools,” he said.

He also added that Float prioritizes transparency and a very open and communicative culture.

“It’s a company that really celebrates the idea of being a meritocracy.”

Bartlett echoed a similar sentiment, noting the importance of a transparent workplace culture, especially when it comes to policies.

“​​There’s many organizations that often rely on the Employment Standards minimum for a lot of their policies… In order to make the workplace more employee-centric, I’ve always started first by speaking with employees directly. There’s a lot of danger in having the HR team or founders or executive team members inferring that they think that they know what their team wants,” she said.

Speaking with employees and being transparent could be a way to retain young workers. As the survey from PwC indicated, young IT Workers are less likely to stay in a job they aren’t completely satisfied with.

An article in the New York Times from 2020 described the difficulty that many leaders in the tech sector had in attracting Gen Z talent in the recruitment process. The article described how many members of Gen Z seem to be put off by negative perceptions of the tech industry, and the growing concern about the ethics of certain practices within the tech sector world.

The article reinforced the ideas of transparency, communication, and collaboration, and how important those qualities are to younger workers entering the tech industry.

“Change starts with building that culture of transparency. Especially with the expectations of how we work changing over the pandemic, that transparency is even more important,” Bartlett said.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Samira Balsara
Samira Balsara
Samira is a writer for IT World Canada. She is currently pursuing a journalism degree at Toronto Metropolitan University (formally known as Ryerson) and hopes to become a news anchor or write journalistic profiles. You can email her at sbalsara@itwc.ca

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