Employers: Do you know how remote working has affected your younger workers?

Employer, Employers, Guides / 08 September 2021

While working remotely in response to the Covid-19 pandemic may have affected workers of all ages, should employers take an overall approach to their workforce – one rule for all – or instead consider how each age-group may have handled the work-from-home development?Younger employees in particular are likely to have had a different experience of remote working to their older colleagues. Why is this?

Employers: Do you know how remote working has affected your younger workers?
  • Younger workers are more likely to be new to employment and at the beginning of their career path. The pandemic and the move to remote working may have therefore been felt more deeply as an unwelcome disruption rather than simply a change of pace or a chance to work more flexibly.
  • Younger workers are less likely to have the space to easily work from home. Whether living with parents or sharing rented accommodation, younger workers may not have a dedicated office or the chance to work distraction-free at home.
  • Younger workers are still building their professional network of colleagues and business contacts. They may therefore feel more isolated when working from home than their older colleagues who have already developed a network to fall back on for support, information, and business discussion.

Research carried out by Hubble, the office search experts supports the view that the UK workforce, depending on their age, view working from home and a return to the office very differently.

According to Hubble findings, the majority of younger workers:

  • prefer office life over remote working
  • are more eager to return to the office and meet colleagues face-to-face
  • generally miss having a dedicated space away from home to do their work in more than workers from older age-groups.

Many younger workers working remotely may miss out on valuable in-person orientation when they begin a new job, worry that the chance to make a good first impression is reduced through only online/phone/email interaction, and struggle with setting their own schedule and levels of motivation.

So what exactly can employers do to help their younger workforce?

 

Offer Mentorship


When work communication is simply a handful of emails, texts, and the occasional Zoom chat, it can be difficult as a young worker to feel part of the organisation they work for. Mentorship can form a useful bridge between remote workers and the employer’s company culture.

A mentor needs to be more than simply a trainer; they should be interested in developing their mentees, enthusiastic about the company and its mission, successful in their own right, and suitable to the mentee’s career path.

With the right mentor, a young worker will feel listened to, find it easier to learn about their role in the company, and grow in confidence.

 

Promote Company Culture


Younger workers, more than any of the age-groups, experience a higher level of engagement with their employer when operating in a work-based environment because it promotes a sense of connection with the company’s culture and values. Unfortunately, that connection may be lost when working remotely due to a growing sense of isolation.

Employers can re-build that connection and increase employee engagement by:

  • setting up regular check-ins
  • using video calls as well as phone calls/emails
  • sharing company news, and asking for feedback

All workers, whatever their age and whether remote or in the office, deserve to feel a valued part of the company.

 

Stress Management


Research over the past decade has pointed to the increased tendency of the current wave of younger workers, generally referred to as Generation Z, to experience higher levels of depression and anxiety. This tendency has been further heightened by the pandemic and the isolation of working from home.

Older workers are generally more likely to have developed a level of mental resilience and emotional intelligence that younger workers are only just beginning to build on.

The CIPD have more information on employee wellbeing in their factsheet, Wellbeing At Work.

It is important that employers tailor their employee wellbeing policy to the various age-groups and in adherence with up-to-date mental health research, policy, and best practice.

For younger workers, the chance to develop soft skills that will be of value in their future career – such as communication, stress management, team-work, leadership, and presentation – can be of real benefit, building their confidence and increasing their value to the business.

 

Wrapping it up


As many workers of all ages return to the workplace, it is crucial that employers do not expect their staff to carry on as if nothing has changed. This is not ‘business as usual’; equally, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for the entire workforce.

Younger workers will require a different approach to their older colleagues, but ultimately they have the potential to be the company’s future leaders and decision makers.

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