Employee Workplace Needs Differ Dramatically By Generation

While Millennials prioritize better hardware, Gen X wants more flexible work schedules to care for their families and Baby Boomers want a raise, finds the Nintex Workplace 2021 Study.

When it comes to what will make work more productive and enjoyable for employees, it turns out one size does not fit all: Baby Boomers report that more compensation would improve their work, while Gen Zers would like more software to help them automate aspects of daily routines, according to the newly released Nintex Workplace 2021 Study. The report is based on a survey of 1,000 U.S. full-time workers across four generations at companies with 501-50,000 employees.

Workplace Needs
When it comes to the workplace generational differences do exist, according to findings from the Nintex Workplace 2021 Study.

Here are the top priority requests for each generation:

  • Gen Z: 55 percent desire additional process software to more easily automate work
  • Millennials: 50 percent would like better hardware and equipment to improve their home offices
  • Gen X: 56 percent would most appreciate more work schedule flexibility to care for dependents
  • Baby Boomers: 42 percent prioritize further compensation increases for more work and retirement planning

Most employees in the study report unexpectedly positive remote work experience and productivity in 2020, but there are notable disparities in how the shift to working from home is impacting workers across every generation.

Additionally, the experience of working remotely is closely correlated with current job level. Longer-tenured, senior employees report adapting more easily to remote work and higher productivity from home. The study found entry-level employees have struggled more to adapt with work task confusion, living situation challenges (59 percent), and feeling over-worked more than their more experienced colleagues (63 percent).

Seventy percent of all respondents said their experiences of working remotely during the pandemic have been better and more productive than they expected. However, many feel their work life would further improve with better home-office equipment (58 percent), the ability to permanently work remotely (51 percent) and software solutions that help them automate manual and repetitive tasks (39 percent) to focus on more valuable work.

“Senior leadership teams and HR professionals that recognize and respond to the generational needs of their employees will be more successful at retaining and recruiting talent this year,” said Nintex Chief Marketing & Strategy Officer Dustin Grosse. “Work-life challenges vary by individual, but companies can do a number of things to improve how productive and fulfilling work is accomplished by all staff members. That includes making manual, paper-based and repetitive work more streamlined and digital with easy-to-use and powerful automation software. Ensuring employees have effective office equipment, like good computers, desktop monitors and/or standup desks is also important. Looking forward, to attract, develop, and retain strong talent HR policies must also provide strong workplace and schedule flexibility and competitive compensation and rewards for important roles and all top performers.”

The survey also revealed that:

  • Benefits of remote work abound. More than two-thirds (67 percent) of employees report getting work done more efficiently since transitioning from the office to full-time remote work. When asked to describe their better-than-expected experiences, respondents pointed to no commute, fewer interruptions and better work-life balance.
  • Employees report feeling sadder, but not because of remote work. Nearly half (49 percent) of employees are sadder and lonelier than usual while working remotely during the pandemic, but they attribute this to COVID-19 virus-related concerns and restrictions. Additionally, 56 percent of employees said current events, non-work-related, have impacted their attitude and productivity at work.
  • Many Boomers’ personal wellness much less affected by recent changes. Forty-five percent of Baby Boomer respondents said there has been no change to their personal wellness while working remotely during the pandemic. Conversely, just 15 percent of Gen Z respondents reported the same.
  • Managers and more senior leaders are much more excited about returning to the office than staff. Sixty-three percent of managers and directors, and 62 percent of VPs and C-suite executives are very excited to return to the office as soon as possible. However, only 26 percent of coordinators and specialists share that level of excitement.

The Nintex Workplace 2021 Study also evaluates other important remote work topics including insight on employee mental health and sentiment on returning to the office.

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