By all accounts, Australia is one of the first countries in the world to have regained a significant amount of the jobs that were lost during the pandemic. In fact, data from the ABS suggest that employment rates in March this year, were higher than in March 2020. Indicating that recovery from lockdown has exceeded speculations of continued economic hardship – at least for the Australian economy.
While arguably setting a gold standard, caution is still warranted. Especially for business who’ve either not yet pivoted ways of working or hired under the same premise that new hire will think the same way, or want the same things they did pre-COVID.
These assumptions are risky and to use an example, let us look across the waters to the US. Nine million Americans remain unemployed, and companies are scrambling to hire as the economy revs up. Stats indicate that in March, job openings hit a record 8.1 million and in April, the unemployment rate jumped. However, the problem isn’t to do with the number of jobs; it’s finding people to fill the positions.
For the US, unemployment benefits have been extended to September meaning 42 per cent of people receiving benefits are earning more than they did at their jobs. Add on mounting childcare pressures due to continue school closures, and workers health concerns about contracting covid, it doesn’t come as a surprise that people are pushing back.
While on Australian soil things are markedly different, there is one common denominator in all of this. People and their needs have changed.
We already know that the work landscape has changed significantly over the last few years, with millennials and Gen Z leading this transformation. The pandemic escalated this paradigm shift by redefining both the concept of work and execution. Which means the challenge for businesses will be on how to attract and retain talent.
For younger gens, workplace priorities include:
- Satisfaction. Younger gens are acutely aware of the impermanence of life with work. Which means that work satisfaction is no longer one of the attributes they seek but is a top priority. Businesses who can offer opportunities or roles that encourage fulfillment and meaning, will win.
- Balance. Younger gens value (and need) balance. The once upon a time work life balance has now been replaced with balance in work. Which means they have a strong aversion to a structured work-life that leaves no room for personal growth or enjoyment. Businesses who can offer balance and flexibility, will win.
- Innovation. Younger gens are big thinkers, with an entrepreneur mindset. Businesses who are focused on innovation, big visions and pushing the boundaries will in turn attract, equal-minded talent. And with innovation fueling meaning and fulfillment, it’s a double win.
The post-COVID world is offering business real opportunity to do things differently. Irrespective of employment rates around the world, one thing will always remain: younger gens make up the majority of the global workforce, so understanding their language is a must.