Millennials and Gen Z - HR Trends and Demands in 2019

The world of business is changing rapidly. It’s changing so quickly that just as we’re starting to figure out that ping-pong tables and free food isn’t really what millennials wanted (or have we not figured that out yet?), Gen Z is entering the workplace with a different set of requests. Unfortunately, many investments were made in the wrong places and it delayed progress on that end, but progress has been made. Many companies are starting to realize the strategic value of HR, going beyond a cost center handling paperwork and complaints, and moving towards strategic initiatives to help the company – and its most valuable resource, its people – succeed.

It’s now 2019 and times are changing, once again. New trends are emerging and a new generation is starting to make their way into your office. Here are some hot trends that are making their way into the workplace this year. 


  1. Employee Experience: Employee experience started getting really hot in 2018, but 2019 is the time to truly embrace it and run with it. It’s something millennials and Gen Z, as well as the rest of the population can agree on: it’s necessary in today’s world. Business should be more human, even when everything else is getting dehumanized.


A 2018 Aon survey showed that just a five point increase in engagement can lead to as much as a three percent increase in revenue. Similarly, a study by the Hay Group showed that companies with high engagement rates generate an average of 2.5 times the revenue of companies with higher levels of disengagement.

Employee experience consists of everything throughout the employee lifecycle, starting at attraction and ending at separation. 

So what can we do about it? Gamification is a hot trend. Studies show that 90 percent of employees are more productive when gamification is implemented in the workplace. Create fun, engaging activities that are linked to company goals. Identify areas where your company is lacking, such as low lead generation. Give employees 50 points for every lead they generate, 500 points for every lead that results in an appointment, and 1,500 points for every lead that results in a sale. Create opportunities to redeem those points for gift cards, trips, lunch with the CEO, or other cool perks that your employees would enjoy.


Employee experience is not just about fun and games, though. Look at your leadership. Are they effective? Are they giving feedback, coaching their employees, and helping them succeed or are they constantly looking over their shoulder? Start conversations with your employees on the front lines, as well as your leaders. Watch for reactions. Stay interviews and engagement surveys are great to gather information as well, but they’ll work best when your employees trust you.

Pay attention to the entire employee lifecycle, from candidate experience through offboarding. Be transparent. Be willing to have fun. Make your office a place where people are excited to come to work each day rather than a place they’re dying to leave.


  1. Professional Development: Here’s another topic we all, regardless of our generation, can agree on: growth and development. In the past, companies left it up to their employees to learn more. Today, employees are demanding support from their employers. This trend is only getting hotter in 2019. Generation Z has named it their top priority, far outweighing even compensation. The quote, attributed to both Henry Ford and Zig Ziglar, “The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay” is powerful. Don’t be afraid of the investment – be afraid of not making it.



There are affordable options, such as paying for a LinkedIn Learning subscription for your employees. Other options include creating training programs, bringing in a pro, or sending your employees to conferences. Encourage knowledge sharing. Nothing is more powerful (and inexpensive) than having your employees learn from each other.


Further encourage employee growth and development by creating internal growth plans for your employees, with a budget for relevant learning. This helps in two areas: professional development and upward mobility. If an employee isn’t performing like you want them to, but they’re showing great potential, invest in professional development vs. an immediate raise when merit increases come around. Create goals to achieve to receive the merit increase and you’ll likely get boosted performance out of it as well.


  1. Ditching the 9 to 5: It sounds scary, how can I ditch the 9 to 5 when I need my employees to work 60 hours a week to even get something out of them? We’ve been saying work smarter, not harder for ages, but we’ve never really taken the steps to allow it to truly work. Increased engagement leads to increased productivity. When employees are more productive, we can get far more out of them in a shorter period of time.


Sure, you want the most out of them and 60 hours sounds awesome from the employer side, but it’s not healthy on the employee side. It only decreases engagement and productivity and you may be getting less out of 60 hours than you would in 40 hours. But ditching the 9 to 5 doesn’t necessarily mean working less hours, it means providing more options for working. Create opportunities for your employees to work from where they want, if possible, for a certain amount of hours per week. Alternate schedules can also work. Allow employees, again, if possible, to work ten hours over four days instead of eight hours over five days. Employees are increasingly valuing work/life balance and to remain competitive and retain your talent, creating flexible options will be key.

These trends are not only beginning to dominating the workplace, but they are affecting your ability to recruit, engage, and retain top talent. Remember, investments in your employees are positive investments in your business. Your people are your greatest asset. As Richard Branson said, “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.” He has a point – and he’s been very successful with his philosophy. Just remember, you don’t have to be a billionaire – you just have to take action.

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