The generations deal differently with their return to the office 

When it comes to health and wellness, work and life balance, how we deal with this today creates different consequences tomorrow. The initial switch from in office to virtual was unplanned, and while we experienced the impacts of the Pandemic differently, how our future attitudes, behaviors, and expectations change will vary.  

Generations share experiences that have been known to create similarities in attitudes, behaviors, political and social views, while the subsets within adjust based on personal preference and overall attitude. Humans are inherently unique, so generational trends are just one indicator of differing attitudes. 

In general, while Boomers self-isolated, did their life experiences make them more capable of handling lockdown? They had already dealt with post-war optimism, social and political change: therefore, where they best suited to handle the Pandemic even though they were most susceptible.  

While midlife Gen X faced increased health risks out in public, they managed lockdown from their Latchkey kid training, handling self-isolation from being on their own. Hyper-focused on their out of school Gen Z kids, their self-imposed isolation was not their issue, but rather it came from being isolated with their children for extended periods. Their social lives have been stifled, and anxiety levels rise as they face more uncertainties. 

Gen Y lifestyle and job skills remain tested. The unbreakable generation had minimal time to party before lockdown. Their Alpha babies relocated to the burbs to save money and gain space. They came out the other side of the 2008 recession, but they still chase their parents’ financial stability. Like Gen X, they care for aging parents, face an uncertain future, raising their children and maintaining a distanced lifestyle. Millennial productivity shows a decrease due to lower levels of employer connectivity as virtual experiences were so unexpected.  

Virtual onboarding for Gen Z created lowered connectivity to co-workers and employer, likely to have long term ramifications when it comes engagement. A renewed commitment to improve the world for those to follow, Gen Z seem committed to remaining loyal to their employers long after the Pandemic. As companies align their interests with their teams around diversity and inclusion, their spirits will be a renewed, creating a positive impact on self and community. 

Zoomers face imbalance, substance abuse, decreased coping skills and a Recession, creating job and financial insecurity.  Least susceptible to infection, their personal and professional development continues to be disrupted. They are the driving force behind a workplace transformation, focused on societal purpose with tangible actions. Gen Z will likely delay life altering decisions and career trajectories, although they will reshape and restructure the future as they continue their educated, insist on diversity and inclusion, and become reflective of the change they seek. 

And as Gen Alpha will eventually join their predecessor generations in the workplace, they are a big unknown. Expectations say Gen Alpha will be a heightened version of the Zoomer we knew before Covid-19, holding the keys to unlocking a better future for us all. We have a collective responsibility to support them now so that they can be the future leaders we will need to survive as a species. 

“…Viewpoints of younger generations will be critical to creating new normal…offering clues for companies to reset…how we work, socialize or shop…listen to younger employees… despite uncertain and discouraging conditions…Millennials and Gen Z’s express impressive resiliency…as we rebuild economies, society and business.” Michele Parmelee, Deloitte CPO, September 2020: Covid 19 mental health employer resources financial health. 

Strong leaders must plan today to accommodate for the future workforce, and all generations thereof: continual training to strengthen skills; prioritize purpose over profit; stakeholders become more equal; mental health and community participation support opportunities; address climate change and strong environmental sustainability programs.