The Next Generation of Work:
Strengthening Diversity, Building Flexibility, Inclusivity, and Productivity in the Workplace
As businesses today navigate the changing needs of the labor force, job seekers are eager to work for employers that share their values and support their well-being. In February, the Goodwill-Easter Seals Foundation hosted a virtual event highlighting strategies to attract and sustain skilled talent, meet employee expectations, and support equitable opportunities for all. The event featured GESMN partners Dr. Joy Coates, Director of Workforce Capabilities at the Markle Foundation, and Cheri Gengler, Vice President of Talent & Workforce at the Minneapolis Regional Chamber. The event was moderated by Goodwill-Easter Seals’ Chief Services and Programs Officer, Sheila Olson.
In 2021 Goodwill-Easter Seals Minnesota joined the Rework America Alliance – a nationwide collaboration formed to help unemployed, low-income workers, particularly workers of color. Goodwill-Easter Seals, along with our partner, Urban League Twin Cities, was one of five groups selected from across the country to test and implement strategies and tools designed to help this target group move into better jobs. The alliance is working with worker-facing organizations to connect displaced workers to jobs and encourage employers to build a more diverse workforce. Rework America provides access to career guidance and talent management resources through skills-based practices. Dr. Joy Coates and Cheri Gengler shared their expertise as thought partners, strategic leaders and champions of this work.
What can we do – nonprofits, business, and individuals – to create more equitable practices and to improve employee recruitment and retention?
- Ask yourself, who’s not at the table that should be? Consider who is making the decisions and being seen at the leadership level. If employees don’t see themselves reflected there, employers must be intentional on creating channels of communication and trust.
- Pay attention to unintentional biases in job descriptions.
- Have patience with equitable practice development to make sure it is sustainable.
How are employers adapting to align with worker values, especially the next generation of employees? How does your work support them?
- We make sure to meet employers where they are. We work directly with employers to help them understand how to implement skills-based practices and coaching, especially for recruitment and retention.
- The next generation of workers appreciate being heard and respected. They value flexibility and their time outside of work. Gen Z employees want to understand their role and how they can actively participate and be part of an organization. Transparency is key.
- Skills-based practices help some employers rethink how they approach younger and older employees by placing value on the employees’ experience. Employees feel motivated and energized when they consider their next career steps and can see a clear pathway forward.
What are some examples of outcomes you’ve seen with employers who have changed their recruitment and retention strategies?
- An employer we were working with had posted an entry level position but was struggling to get applicants. They switched to a skills-based application and soon had 18 applicants!
- Employees at one organization typically worked 8-hour shifts. Guided by employee feedback, the company switched to 12-hour workdays so employees could have 3-day weekends every other week. We expect to see more employee-driven trends like this in the future.
- After switching to a skills-based approach, one company was able to hire internally for an HR position. This colleague brought added value to their new position with many years of experience and a deep understanding of the organization.
To learn more, check out these resources recommended by our panelists:
- Read the book Answering Why: Unleashing Passion, Purpose, and Performance in Younger Generations, by Mark C. Perna
- Learn more about the Rework America Alliance
- Check out the Rework America Alliance blog
- Read this article: Taking a skills-based approach to building the future workforce
Goodwill-Easter Seals is working toward fostering a more inclusive environment for our participants by providing digital access and learning opportunities, teaming up with community partners to make career services more accessible, prioritizing DEI training and development for our staff, and more. This work would not be possible without generous support from people like you who believe in this mission and stand with us as partners.
Learn more about our services and programs and make a gift today so people in Minnesota have access to training and career opportunities that will open doors to brighter futures. Thank you for your partnership as we work together to build a stronger community.
Many thanks to Dr. Joy Coates and Cheri Gengler for sharing their expertise at Power of Purpose.