The world of work has changed since March 2020, and in the last 14 months, people have adapted to remote working or hybrid working in their own way. The adaptability quotient has not been the same for all. Every generation of employees is facing their share of problems, each different from the other. These problems are difficult for other generations to understand or comprehend.
“This generation has been used to sitting in their cabins and people coming and meeting them. They felt the power and control in their hands, but now with work from home, there is a feeling of loss of control.”
Sriharsha Achar, Jt. executive director & CHRO, Star Health & Allied Insurance Company
Born between 1965 – 1979, GenX, is currently the oldest generation at the workplace, and they have found it difficult to adapt to the new world of work. Many of them are in senior roles, and have a sense of achievement in their career.
Many from the younger generation may not be able to comprehend this, but not being able to work out of their cabins, has made them feel a loss of control.
As Sriharsha Achar, Jt. executive director & CHRO, Star Health & Allied Insurance Company rightly points out, “This generation has been used to sitting in their cabins and people coming and meeting them. They felt the power and control in their hands, but now with work from home, there is a feeling of loss of control.”
Many may say that work from home has been a great leveller. The fact is that this generation has been suddenly exposed to the new way of working, and it’s not easy to adapt to the new world overnight. There is a sudden sense of isolation in this generation of workers.
“Imagine a person, who has been working for over 20 years or 30 years, being made to suddenly work from his home. Throughout his entire career, he was used to getting ready in the morning, leaving for the office and meeting people. Now, abruptly, everything has changed.”
Nihar Ghosh, president – HR, Emami
“Imagine a person, who has been working for over 20 years or 30 years, being made to suddenly work from his home. Throughout his entire career, he was used to getting ready in the morning, leaving for the office and meeting people. Now, abruptly, everything has changed,” says Nihar Ghosh, president – HR, Emami.
Adapting to technology has been yet another problem for GenX. The collaborative tools being used to connect with each other today, are not things that GenX has been used to. This doesn’t necessarily mean that GenX is not tech savvy. While many of this generation are familiar with technology, they are not used to making technology a part of their everyday tasks. “If I take my example, I am not used to staying hooked to my mobile screen all the time or even my laptop. However, now that everything is virtual, I realise that GenX really finds it difficult to remain online or hooked to screens all the time,” shares Achar.
“Milllennials at this stage are approaching the peak of their career. And a lot is expected from them at work. So I believe they are also overloaded with responsibilities and immense workload at this time.”
Siddharth Vishwanath, head of human resources, Zivame
Achar also recalls an instance where an older colleague wished to work on hard copies rather than online sheets to carry out a performance-appraisal task. Working on online sheets may take only a few hours but GenX is used to signing hard copies for approvals rather than signing documents digitally.
GenY or the millennials, in the age group of 26 – 40, also have their own set of problems to deal with amidst the world’s transition to a hybrid work model. Experts estimate that it is the millennials who are dealing with the problem of work stress and immense workload. In most workplaces, they are the executioners, or in mid-level roles. Ask them about the challenges in the hybrid world of work, and they will instantly talk about a sudden increase in workload.
“Millennials at this stage are approaching the peak of their career. And a lot is expected from them at work. So, I believe they are also overburdened with responsibilities and immense workload at this time,” says Siddharth Vishwanath, head of human resources, Zivame.
“Yes, the younger generation is missing out on the ‘office life’ at the start of their career, but on the other hand, the hybrid work model has also given them the flexibility to create a work – life balance.”
Seema Bangia, chief people officer, Mahindra Agriculture & Defence Systems
In addition, they have family responsibilities as well. In this generation of workers, many people will have kids and toddlers in the two to 10-year bracket. So, they are dealing with the responsibility of their kids, office work and domestic commitments all at the same time.
Also, many of them will be living with their aged parents who are most probably retired. With the second wave hitting us so hard, many from this generation have had to tend to their elderly parents who have been affected by COVID as primary caregivers. Also, in many cases, it is the millennials who have become the primary bread earners in their family.
Siddharth shares one such case where a millennial candidate who applied for a tech role at the company had asked for a 50 per cent increase in his salary. On enquiring, the candidate said that he needed a huge hike as his father was suffering from COVID and he required Rs 60 lakh for treatment.
“The younger generation had their own set of challenges, shared accommodation, inadequate infra at home, being alone in the PG etc due to this many actually went back to their hometowns and worked from their hometowns largely during the pandemic.”
Biswaroop Mukherjee, head HR, commercial vehicle unit, Tata Motors
GenZ is the youngest of all the generations comprising those born after 1995. Interestingly, research shows that it is this generation that is struggling the most with the hybrid work model! GenZ has recently entered the workforce in the year 2020. Most of them have been recruited for their first job virtually, and undergone the entire onboarding process online.
As a result, they have not seen their offices, workplaces, subordinates and managers/team leaders, which has greatly impacted them. They are missing out on the experience of networking at the workplace, hallway conversations, chance encounters and small talks over coffee.
As per the report, GenZ is struggling the most in these three areas – being able to bring new ideas to the table; getting in a word during conference calls/meetings; and eventually feeling engaged or excited about work.
Speaking to HRKatha, Seema Bangia, chief people officer, Mahindra Agriculture & Defence Systems, agrees with this observation and says, “Yes, the younger generation is missing out on the ‘office life’ at the start of their career, but on the other hand, the hybrid work model has also given them the flexibility to create work – life balance.”
Siddharth shares another recent incident where a young management trainee had joined with utmost enthusiasm, all geared up to prove herself. However, given the current situation, the leadership team finds it very difficult to give apt attention to her growth and learning, which makes her feel a little low. And she is not the only one experiencing such feelings. Other trainees feel the same way.
In addition, there are other logistical problems. As Biswaroop Mukherjee, head HR, commercial vehicle units, Tata Motors, says, “The younger generation had their own set of challenges — shared accommodation, inadequate infra at home, being alone in the PG during lockdown, and so on. Many actually went back to their hometowns and worked from there during the pandemic.”
Despite all challenges, the fact is that people across generations have learnt to adapt to the new world of work. “The real impact will be seen 12-18 months down the line when things open up and a set of employees continue to work from home despite no restrictions or fear.”