Can only a youthful HR team deal with the next gen?

The younger generations, particularly Gen Z, place high importance on achieving a work-life balance and expressing their individuality beyond just their job. However, does it necessarily mean that only young HR professionals can effectively cater to their needs?

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As per data from the Employees’ Provident Fund Office (EPFO), those in the age bracket of 18 to 25 accounted for 56 per cent of the jobs created in 2022. This was a five-year high. Not surprisingly, there has been a significant shift in the workforce, due to the presence of the younger lot — the Millennials and Generation Z. Given their unique set of skills, preferences and expectations, these younger generations are pushing for changes in the traditional ways of working. This can be quite a challenge for all those dealing with them, including the HR team.

To begin with, they, especially Gen Z, have distinctive traits that set them apart from the older generations. They grew up in the digital age, are tech savvy, and have a strong desire for work-life balance.

Not only do they value transparency, collaboration and diversity, but they expect their employers to align with their values. They also prefer to receive feedback regularly and seek opportunities for growth and development. However, these traits may not be in line with traditional HR practices that are geared towards older generations.

Does that mean it has become essential to have young HR personnel who can relate to and understand this new generation?

Relevance

Ranjan Banerjee, group head – HR, Berger Paints, believes having a diverse workforce that includes younger individuals in all departments including the HR team is essential for any organisation to stay current and relevant.

“Younger people in HR are bringing new perspectives, ideas and skill sets that are often necessary for innovation and progress,” shares Banerjee.

“Younger people in HR are bringing new perspectives, ideas and skill sets that are often necessary for innovation and progress,”

Ranjan Banerjee, group head – HR, Berger Paints,

While it is true that many organisations have a younger workforce, this should not be the sole focus while addressing the challenges of working with new generations. It is more important for the HR team to ensure that the workforce is equipped with the necessary tools and resources to succeed, regardless of age or experience.

Understanding

Moreover, having more young people in HR will ensure that the unique needs of this new generation in the organisation are understood and accommodated. They can act as a bridge between management and the younger employees, helping to manage the expectations of both parties.

Innovation

Additionally, younger HR personnel can help drive innovation and change in the workplace. They can bring fresh perspectives and ideas that align with the expectations of younger employees. They can also help to implement new technologies and practices that cater to the needs of the younger generation.

Are the current HR teams inefficient?

Not at all. By no means are the currently functioning HR teams incapable of managing the new generation entering the workforce. It is just that to deal with Gen Z, the existing HR teams have to, first and foremost, be aware of the differences that exist between the generations and their likely impact on the workplace. This involves understanding the values, expectations and communication styles of the younger generation, which will differ from those of the older generations.

“Younger employees may not be as patient or balanced as their older counterparts when faced with management challenges or duties, but they can offer new strategies based on current data”

Rishav Dev, CHRO, Noveltech Feeds

Guidance

Rishav Dev, CHRO, Noveltech Feeds, feels it is important to have experienced individuals in an organisation and in the HR team to guide and mentor younger employees joining the organisation. After all, the younger lot are typically more dynamic and willing to experiment.

“Younger employees may not be as patient or balanced as their older counterparts when faced with management challenges or duties, but they can offer new strategies based on current data,” points out Dev.

Adaptability

The current HR team must be willing to adapt and change their practices to accommodate the younger generation. This may involve using new technologies and social media to communicate and engage with the younger lot or creating a more flexible and collaborative work environment that aligns with their expectations.

“Whether or not younger people are needed in the HR team depends on the individuals working in that team, and it is difficult for leaders to say if age is a factor in determining effectiveness,” adds Dev.

Knowledge

Banerjee explains, “It is very important for the HR team to be updated. If they are outdated and unaware of the contemporary changes in the world of work, they may face challenges while dealing with the new generation. However, if they remain knowledgeable and informed about these changes, there may not be any significant challenges in the organisation.”

“While the presence of younger individuals in the HR team may bring fresh perspectives, the key to effectively dealing with them does not necessarily lie in age.”

Sumal Abraham Varghese, director and CHRO, Transys Global

Sumal Abraham Varghese, director and CHRO, Transys Global, says, “While the presence of younger individuals in the HR team may bring fresh perspectives, the key to effectively dealing with them does not necessarily lie in age. Rather, it is important to create awareness and sensitise all individuals in the organisation about the importance of diversity, inclusion and equity.” 

How can this be done? Varghese suggests including young people with strong fundamentals in the team. Such people can help individuals deal with differences in generational, gender, religious, ethnic or sexual preferences.

The organisation must be open minded and willing to see the younger generation’s point of view. By listening to and learning from them, the current HR teams can foster a more innovative and dynamic workplace culture.

“Ultimately, it is about fostering an environment of inclusivity that can benefit everyone in the organisation, regardless of their age,” concludes Varghese rightly.

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