What Younger Employees Value More than Money

younger workers value

It’s tempting to generalize about millennials and the even younger Gen Z employees by saying they want work-life balance, but they have deeper motivations and broader perspectives then they are often given credit for. In fact, these two generations of employees are having an impact on everything from how and where job responsibilities are managed to employee engagement practices to how organizations exercise social responsibility.

So we decided to mention what workers value more than money but add some different perspectives.

1. Flexible work schedules

A lot has been written about flexible work schedules, but we would like to present a new perspective that goes beyond your employee’s desire to access work via mobile or remote technology to enable flexible working hours for convenience. This is not just a case of younger workers being demanding it truly shows what workers value.

The U.S. population is aging, and your younger employees may very well already be caregivers to elderly parents or grandparents. At the same time, they’re building careers and starting families. This is a topic that has not fully hit the mainstream media, but it’s coming. Most of us don’t think of millennials and Gen Z as caregivers yet. However, there’s an estimated 44 million unpaid caregivers, and millions are younger employees.

2. Work that is interesting and utilizes their skills

Strategy firm Department26 surveyed millennial workers and learned that the top priority for 44 percent of them is working in jobs they are passionate about. Your younger employees want to make an impact, and not just plug away at a job that may pay more but is uninspiring.

Harvard Business School Professor Moss Kanter says you should focus on giving employees an OPI or Opportunity for Positive Impact. Effective leaders are good at helping employees manage their expectations while letting them demonstrate their abilities with stretch assignments, participation on project teams and cross-function assignments. Give them a problem that needs a solution, and let them innovate.

3. Engaging and approachable leaders

What workers value is approachable leaders. What does that mean? Approachable leaders are people that employees feel free to approach with questions, concerns, requests for advice and work guidance.

Inclusive leadership is an element of being approachable and is crucial to developing an engaged workforce. Positive employee engagement is the foundation of being an approachable leader. The U.S. workforce is more diverse than it has ever been before, and that trend will continue as the population continues to diversify. Managers who don’t know how to engage younger employees of all races, gender, and ethnicities will simply not succeed in the near future.

4. Companies with a positive culture and compatible values

Glassdoor, the jobs and recruiting site, has conducted recent employee surveys and found that pay is no longer the top predictor of workplace satisfaction. Baby Boomers focused on pay as part of their role of being a “good provider.” Younger employees have a different perspective. Your company’s culture and values matter more than money because they impact employee engagement, morale and productivity. Culture, of course, is influenced by the quality of leadership.

5. Looking beyond the workplace through social responsibility is what workers value

Are you sure you understand the perspectives of your younger employees? PricewaterhouseCoopers’ 20th CEO Survey focused on several topics, and one was what the leaders of tomorrow are thinking and what they believe businesses should do to make a positive difference.

The survey learned that social responsibility is one thing younger employees value. Millennials and Gen Z are concerned about geopolitical uncertainty, climate change, the environment and unemployment. The report concludes that CEOs need to understand the different perspectives of millennials and Gen Z and vice versa. This can only happen when your company has developed engaging leadership.

Recognize and Embrace Different Belief Systems

Gen Y and Gen Z want to earn a good salary or wage, of course, but money alone isn’t as important as it was to older generations. However, they’re also realistic as many are children who grew up during a major recession. For example, young workers aren’t interested in paying unions just to be in line as the first to be fired due to lack of seniority and to pay for union leaders making high salaries like many CEOs are paid. They want their skills recognized and appreciated, and they want to work for organizations that care about their employees and the world they live in.

Younger employees value change and are change agents – intentionally or not. As an employer, it helps to understand the different work philosophies and belief systems of younger employees. Gen Y has been called “addicted to technology” and “Generation Me,” but that’s unfair. They have deep belief systems and want their personal lives integrated with their work lives in a way that benefits their families, society and the environment. This isn’t a passing trend. They’re becoming mentors to Gen Z, so you can expect this perspective to endure.

Ask yourself: Have you made an honest effort to understand the perspectives of your younger employees and do you know what workers value? The next step you take depends on the answer.

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