Generational and gender shifts are contributing to a different workforce and workplace.
Who is working, the ways they are working, and what kind of work they are doing has changed. How people live their lives outside of work is also different, along with their attitudes toward their careers.
Accounting firm Deloitte & Touche has done their own research to better understand who the new generations of workers are and what they will need from their employer. Here are five facts and analysis taken from Volume 2 of their studies.
Then: Only 37% of married women worked outside the home in 1967.
Now: 61% of married women worked outside the home in 2000.
Implication: Deloitte notes that with a gainfully employed partner, many employees have the flexibility to quit or change jobs whenever they want. Retention is therefore a greater challenge today.
Then: Workers typically had a partner at home who looked after household and personal matters.
Now: Between working married women and working single parents, few employees have a “homemaker” at home.
Implication: Employees need flexibility to handle personal matters and blend their energy between personal and professional.
Then: Men earned the majority of university degrees.
Now: Women earn 55% of all accounting degrees (and 55% of bachelor’s and master’s degrees as of 1998 according to Knoll).
Implications: Attracting and retaining women will be essential for firms like Deloitte (as well as many knowledge economy companies).
Then: Older baby boomer fathers spent an average of 2.2 hours per day with their children.
Now: Generation X fathers spend and average of 3.4 hours per day with their children and 90% say they have either a primary or equal focus on the family compared to work.
Implication: A generation gap at Deloitte who notes that “although many of the leaders in our organization have a stay-at-home partner and a single-minded focus on work, only a small proportion of today’s younger workforce places a primary focus on work.”
Then: Most baby boomers wanted to climb the corporate ladder. In 1992, 66% of college-educated men and 50% of college educated women wanted to move into jobs with more responsibility.
Now: In 2002, only 50% of college educated men and 35% of college-educated women wanted more responsibility. In an independent (non-Deloitte) study, 80% of prime candidates for promotion wanted to work fewer hours.
Implication: Today’s employees will work hard, but will typically not work longer hours and will frequently not trade promotion for their personal time.
I would argue that because of corporate inertia (sticking with “the way things have always been done”) the workplace does not fully reflect these new realities. There is a tension between the previous approach to life that centered on work, and a more current one in which work is blended into the rest of a person’s everyday life.
But changes are happening. When the big four accounting firms are making dramatic changes to work philosophies (and not just Google), it provides strong evidence that mobile and flexible workplaces are not a fad.