This year, Generation Z starts flooding workplaces — at the same time that there is a tight labor force.
That means these young adults will have an outsized influence on workplace culture for years to come.
Gen Z is larger than Generation Y, which has already made workplaces more entrepreneurial and pushed work/life flexibility issues more than ever before.
Gen Z-ers — born between 1996 and 2010 — also are expected to be self-starters and entrepreneurial.
However, they also grew up seeing the effects of the Great Recession on their families.
As a result, the young adults share concerns with their Gen Y counterparts about the environment and needing to have a passion for work, but weigh those against more practical concerns of pay, benefits and mentoring possibilities.
Many of the companies on the Star Tribune’s list of Top Workplaces this year, at least according to the employee surveys, are on the right track as far as what younger generations are concerned about.
There’s no magic formula to why these workplaces are held in esteem by their workers.
“What distinguishes a Top Workplace from an average one? The truth is, there is no single practice, no one-size-fits-all solution for achieving great results,” said Doug Claffey, CEO of WorkplaceDynamics, the Pennsylvania company that has partnered with the Star Tribune on the list for eight years.
“But there are common qualities of success you should be able to identify in every company,” he said. “We know from our decade of research it’s not perks or ‘coolness’ that makes the difference. The best employers carefully craft a positive workplace culture.”
These include a real feeling and appreciation that leadership cares about employees and listens to them.
Also, leaders have good communications skills, making employees feel they are “in the loop,” Claffey said.
“The best workplaces always look to improve. After all, it’s a journey, not a destination,” he said. “Even top-ranked companies will find things to work on in a process of continuous improvement.”
For the Star Tribune’s list, WorkplaceDynamics surveyed 350 organizations in Minnesota.
Those workplaces employ 109,442 people. Of those employees who received questionnaires, 69,192 responded, either on paper or online.
This year, 252 employers scored high enough to earn honors — the top 150 workplaces, ranked based on employee feedback scores and by size — and another 102 National Standard Setters, which exceeded a national benchmark but didn’t score high enough to crack the rankings.
The employee survey seeks responses from 24 statements covering seven areas, including organizational health factors that measure how well employees are working together toward a common cause:
Alignment: where the company is headed, its values, cooperation.
Effectiveness: doing things well, sharing different viewpoints, encouraging new ideas.
Connection: employees feel appreciated, their work is meaningful.
My manager: cares about concerns, helps learn and grow.
In addition, the survey asks employees about other factors:
Employee engagement: loyalty, motivation and referral of the company to others.
Leader: confidence in company leadership.
The basics: pay, benefits, flexibility.
WorkplaceDynamics conducts surveys in more than 40 markets, with the most participation in Minnesota.
Minnesota scored above the average on the survey for every factor except for retention.
The score on that factor here was 1.9 percent below the nation’s average, which other surveys also have shown has to do with a tightening labor force.
One statistic that backs that up is the fact that satisfaction with pay is 5 percent above the national average — a sign of a more competitive market.
The market also was 3 percent or more above the national average for the absence of negativity in their workplace, the quality of communication and living up to set expectations.
As a whole, this year’s Top Workplaces in Minnesota scored similarly to last year’s firms on the survey.
That consistency is important, because surveys have shown that current workers are the best recruiting strategy for companies, especially in a tight economy.
So it’s not surprising that the Twin Cities continues to be ranked as a top market for workers.
One of the latest studies was by ZipRecruiter.com, which said the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area was the best for new college graduates — that first class of Generation Z to reach the workplace.