News - 杰艾智库丨职场政策为何需要跟上年轻人的步伐


Why Workplace Policy Needs to Catch up With the Young
Ningbo, 21/06/2024

近期,世界就业联合会(WEC)公布了其最新的战略研究项目The Work We Want的成果。该项目是WEC携手FT Longitude,以及招聘和雇佣行业的主要商业领袖合作进行的,而我们杰艾控股就是项目组的重要成员之一。该项目成果分为三个篇章,以下是第二篇章第二篇推文,杰艾控股持续翻译转载,与大家一起分享探讨。

Why Workplace Policy Needs to Catch up With the Young


A global shift in workplace demographics is under way. In many leading economies, ageing societies are experiencing a wave of retirement that is contributing to a global talent crunch and leaving employers struggling to replace the missing workforce.



But the other consequence of this shift is equally important: younger generations will represent a larger share of our workers. In 2024 Gen Z (anyone born between 1997 and 2012) is set to overtake the Baby Boomers generation in the full-time workforce, and Millennials will be the dominant generation in work for many years to come.



Younger generations, then, are the future of the workforce. As such, employers are striving to understand their priorities and meet their expectations. But are politicians equally attentive to this important demographic?



“There is a clear juxtaposition of the younger workers entering employment and the older workers who are creating the policies,” comments Denis Pennel, managing director of the World Employment Confederation (WEC). “Policymakers may be stuck to a dogma, and making assumptions about what workers want, based on their own experiences.”

“职场中的年轻人和制定政策的年长者明显并存。”世界就业联合会(WEC)总经理Denis Pennel评论道,“政策制定者可能会固守教条,根据自己的经验对员工的需求做出假设。”

The gap between lawmakers and younger workers


In many countries around the world, there is a representation gap between politicians and younger workers. Globally, researchers found, young people aged 18 to 35 are significantly under-represented in legislatures: the proportion of younger people in the general population is three times smaller than the proportion of legislators representing that group.



The average member of the US House of Representatives was about 20 years older than the average US citizen during the 2020-22 legislative term. A similar lack of representation was found in counties such as Japan and India. In Europe, the average age of Members of the European Parliament is 53, compared with a median age across the EU’s population of 44.5 years in January 2023.



Such an age disparity may lead to legislators underestimating the change in mindset of many members of the workforce.



For example, new global research from WEC, which surveyed 715 senior business executives, finds that 83% of respondents say that, since the pandemic, workers place as much value on flexibility in terms of when and where they work as on compensation. That data relates to all workers, but there is substantial evidence to suggest that younger people are particularly keen to secure flexibility in their working lives.


A 2022 LinkedIn survey found that Gen Z workers were the cohort most likely to have left a role owing to a perceived lack of flexibility (72% fell into this category, compared with 69% of Millennials; 53% of Gen X; and 59% of Boomers). As a US report by McKinsey found, the desire for flexibility is also part of the reason why 18‒24‒year‒olds are more likely than other age groups to work multiple jobs: 25% do so compared with 16% across all other age groups.



Yet the policy discussion often sets up a dichotomy between permanent full-time roles and flexible contract working in a way that seems to ignore the priorities of younger people. While McKinsey found that most young people with multiple jobs hoped ultimately to find permanent roles, they also discovered that a substantial proportion chose to take multiple roles because they enjoy the variety of work (28%) or because of the autonomy and flexibility such an arrangement offers (24%).



Similarly, research by Deloitte found that, while money was the primary driver for Gen Z and Millennials taking on second jobs, substantial numbers also did so for other reasons, including to monetise a hobby or pastime; to provide them with a change in focus; and to expand their networks. The problem in much political debate is that the conversation effectively excludes and dismisses the preferences of those young people who want varied work and value flexibility.



WEC’s new research suggests that employers are developing a more balanced approach. Executives say their organisations offer a range of benefits to both permanent and agency workers: 59% say they offer training opportunities to agency workers, for example, while 46% offer job-rotation opportunities. Such considerations can help meet young people’s appetite for self-development. Our recommendations include a call to create more rewarding and diverse experiences for workers on all types of contracts.


Supporting mental health


Policymakers also need to heed the particular challenges facing younger generations of workers. For example, there is evidence of high levels of anxiety and mental health issues among younger workers, with a recent study finding that, in the preceding six months, more than half of 16‒24‒year‒olds had taken time off work owing to mental health problems. Some of these difficulties may be attributed to the lingering effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, but modern working practices can also have a negative impact.



“There’s evidence that remote working leads to a blurring [of the line] between work life and private life,” points out Stijn Broecke, senior economist at the OECD. When everyone can read emails or instant messages on their phone, employees can be made to feel that they should be available and responsive outside of working hours. This harms their ability to switch off and recharge.

经合组织高级经济学家Stijn Broecke指出:“有证据表明,远程工作会导致工作生活和私人生活之间的界限模糊。”当每个人都能在手机上阅读电子邮件或即时消息时,员工会觉得他们应该在工作时间之外随时待命并做出回应。这会损害他们下班修整和自我恢复的能力。


A number of European countries have followed France’s lead in introducing rules about workers’ right to disconnect, as have countries such as Argentina and Chile. “This is where policymakers need to be looking: legislation around the right to disconnect,” says Broecke.



Another way for organisations to support their employees’ mental health is through career support. Ensuring that career pathways are visible, and building development programs, can help individuals feel in control of their careers and increase their sense of empowerment. This in turn reduces frustration and anxiety, and builds happiness.


Agile lawmaking for the changing world of work


Ultimately, the current crop of lawmakers can’t change the representation gap; that may come through systemic change in the future. What they can do is reflect on the fact that, collectively, lawmakers govern the workplace experiences of the young. With more young people seeking to start flexible contracts that suit their life priorities, the challenge for policymakers is recognising and supporting younger workers in finding the sort of work they want.



Employers are waking up to the mindset changes of the young people they are trying to attract, but they are still bound to operate by legal frameworks that sometimes feel ill-designed to accommodate the preferences of younger workers. Policymakers around the world could do more to meet those needs, and bring forward rules that support the development of more flexible job markets. This could help younger workers to find the diverse and rewarding opportunities that they seek.



“The Work Life We Want” is the final chapter of this project, which will explore how that multi-pronged approach can help provide the work life we want and what regulatory changes are needed to make it happen. Stay tuned for our next sharing.


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