The rise of Generation-R

As the corporate world across the globe anxiously waits for the lockdown to get over, a new generation of workforce is evolving and getting ready to take on the new world of work.

5 Minutes read

When newer groups of people took to working from home during the current crisis, 5 Generations working together but aspiring differently, were being diverse at work. During the lockdown, the workforce got confined to an identical lifestyle, similar professional demands and common limitations. In a matter of days, a large majority of these individuals adopted evolved habits, beliefs and work ethos. For the first time, a significant number of workers from different generations started thinking alike. The current happenings seem to have unexpectedly tempered the diverse work generations and in the process, reduced diversity of thinking and workstyles.

We conducted an online survey covering individuals from across age groups and industries. While a minor proportion of the participants responded as per the expectations of their generation, the majority of participants across generations, surprisingly, responded in an identical manner. While before the lockdown the Millennials and the Gen-X were known to have very diverse work ethics, preferences and expectations, they seem to be thinking similar to each other during the current times. Seemingly, they have learned, unlearned and recalibrated themselves as professionals. This group of individuals to have RESET themselves and evolved into a different generation.

I call it Generation R. The resilient reset Generation.
What is Generation R?

Generation R is that group of individuals who, during the course of the lockdown, have developed new skills, new beliefs, embraced new paradigms and thereby re-adjusted their worldview. This 60% of people have changed some of their habits and beliefs during the lockdown period. 

They say it takes 21 days to develop a new habit. Over the course of 21 days, this group of people have given up some old ways of thinking and have developed a new point of views.

And then we observed remarkable similarities in what this group was thinking, planning and feeling – across generations. Some patterns turned out to be different from the typical generational response be it Gen-X, Millennials or the Gen-Z.

What Generation R is thinking?

Everyone around us, no doubt, believes that the world of work is going to change significantly post the current crisis. Gen-R is no different. This generation has a heightened optimism and believes that the world will be a better place to live and work in going forward. They feel much in control and have developed greater resilience and comfort with ambiguity. Further analysis showed shifts in 3 broad areas:

The way people look at the workplace is changing
  • 91% of the group respondents believed that the world of work will significantly change due to the current situation with 65% expecting a direct change in their career direction and opportunities. The non-Gen-R group, on the other hand, believes that much will remain largely unchanged.
  • Gen-R believes that after the situation normalizes, the workplace will be much more competitive (76%). Therefore, 77% of the Gen-R are getting ready to put in more effort into work going forward. The non-Gen-R group, however, believed that the workplace will become much more collaborative, with 68% feeling that they will NOT be required to work any harder.
  • 63% Gen-R believes individual contributors being more successful at work than the other group – a belief that the Millennials carried previously.
Lockdown has shifted employee mindset
  • 56% of the Gen-R reported having learned a new skill as against only 12% of the Non-Gen-R group. This we believe is one of the most weighted differentiating factors between Gen-R and others.
  • High on optimism, almost 66% of the Gen-R found themselves feeling more spiritual than before.
  • 73% of the Gen-R employees plan to work towards having multiple sources of income post the lockdown as against only 45% of the Non-Gen-R group. This will have clear implications to how this new generation looks at the employment contracts and therefore their choice of employers.
  • 62% of the Gen-R reported having put MORE effort into their work during the current crisis/lockdown. On the other hand, 66% of the Non-GEN-R group reported having put a similar or lesser effort in work during recent times.
60% of the workers will return with evolved work ethics once things are normal
  • 83% of the GEN-R believes that working flexibly is fun and gives greater productivity. On the other had 75% of the Non-Gen-R group missed working in pre-defined fixed office hours.
  • Interestingly, 89% of Gen-R respondents as compared to only 23% of the non-Gen-R group believed that they owe more to society and the environment than before.
  • While 93% of the GEN-R would like to try new Jobs / Roles once the world returns to normal, 54% of the Non-GEN-R want to remain where they are.

A correlation was observed between the work from home technology provided by the Organization and the shift of employees to the new Gen-R Mindset. While 86% of those who shifted to the Gen-R mindset said their organization provided technology & tools that enabled them to fully work from home without any limitation during the lockdown. 66% of those who have NOT changed, reported unhappiness with the technology and tools provided for working from home,

So, what does it mean for the organizations?

Clearly, a large proportion of the workforce will return with altered beliefs, new skill sets, heightened aspirations and most importantly evolved work ethics. Organizations, therefore, will have to transform their culture, relook at their EVP and provide the correct enablers to continue to be preferred choice for talent. Few important changes that the organizations must consider are:

  1. Relook at the employment modality. With 73% of employees wanting to create multiple sources of income, it is in organizations best interest to provide them with those opportunities within the enterprise. Organizations need to create an internal market place where employees can try new roles/jobs and make more money, in addition to their usual jobs – it is like opening the paid Gig opportunities to existing employees so don’t have to look outside.
  2. Enable true flexible working with technology and processes. This would mean removing any functional limitations, high-security platforms and applications that can run full force anytime, anywhere and on any device. TCS has already announced 25/25, where they expect 75% of their workforce to work permanently from home
  3. Create a culture of enablement, openness and empathy. Employees expectations empathy and understanding will be permanently altered once normalcy returns. Leaders and managers will, therefore, need to adopt a different leadership and managerial style. Work and personal life have truly become one single whole. Employees expect pressure to deliver on deadlines but want the flexibility around work schedule and style.
  4. Assume greater societal and environmental responsibility. Companies not being responsible corporate citizens will find it increasingly difficult to attract, recruit and retain Gen-R talent. The talent that will be imperative for the future success of any business anywhere in the world.

How the world of the world evolves after the current crisis is over is for us to see, however, some of these trends clearly signify the beginning of a new era. An era where generational differences are less relevant, where the survival is not of the fittest but most.


About the author

Shaakun Khanna is a highly sought-after Leadership Development, Business Strategy & HR Transformation expert in Asia and is the co-founder of Consentus Advisory. He serves as the Head of HCM Cloud Applications Strategy, Asia Pacific, at Oracle Corporation.

Views expressed are personal and do NOT represent that of Oracle Corporation, any of its subsidiaries or any other organization. 


Comments (9)

  1. Ajay Mishra
    April 24, 2020

    Hi Shakun,
    Great insights and good consolidation of professional’s behavior. We all can relate to this and I am in complete agreement with the larger finding of the survey.
    My take – situation will continue to evolve in next 12-24 month’s timeframe. Lot of new ways to collaborate and work will emerge. Cloud deployment will have greater acceptability. Zero-Touch, low physical connect will be the buzzwords.

    It will be good to also undertake and understand how our behavior will change as “Customers”. This shall have big impact on the way business is done today, and thereby, will compell businesses to adapt to newer ways.
    All of us as professionals will need to align to this change.
    Once again, very insightful findings here. Kudos.

  2. nishant malik
    April 24, 2020

    Good job done……
    A great effort to understand the total intercultural and intersocial sect of global population . Indeed the classification of society into GEN X / GEN R / MILLENNIAL seems to be quite interesting.
    But don’t u think that we are missing the basic perspective of human psychology…… The human mind works very differently in different situations, so does its ethics/ manipulations / assumptions and mind sets.
    The point is… will the subjects ( we all ) behave the same way once the normalcy pertains or again our believes / ideologies / behavior/ expectations and in general ‘ the mind set ‘ shall change ……….
    This is something the time shall tell…
    Would luv to see ur article post normality…..

  3. Vishal Puri
    April 24, 2020

    👍👍👍so true ——

    Time to think, time to change the approach on both professional and personal side keeping in mind basic of life at the centre
    Nothing to worry much all will be fine soon
    Good Job. Commendable work. Future will be Cloud only. Style of work culture will change.
    Nice Article Shaakun Khanna. 👍 Stay blessed.

  4. Shavez
    April 24, 2020

    Indeed we are moving towards a new working environment, post CoVID. Well covered Mr Khanna!

  5. Nupur Rajvanshi
    April 25, 2020

    Lovely article!
    Nicely penned down!!

  6. Rakesh
    April 28, 2020

    Well written. As leaders we all need to add one more R ,which is Responsible….. And the one who can handle the new Resurgence

  7. Vineet Arora
    April 28, 2020

    So very well put together. Extremely insightful analysis.
    I personally think that we’ll go back to the “old normal” very soon, except that businesses have acutely realised the need to be prepared for anything. That said, this has been a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience. Not something one can prepare for. I am sure we’ll learn a few things from it, but not as many as we’re expecting.

  8. Dr. Prasad G Akerkar
    April 28, 2020

    Absolutely correct, totally agree

  9. Dr. Virendra P Singh
    April 29, 2020

    It is good to be an optimist. To be an optimist with a pinch of realism is better in these times. The Stockdale Paradox cautions us to confront the brutal realities whilst retaining the faith that we will prevail in the end. 35 plus days is too short a period (notwithstanding the overhyped 21 Day Theory) to conclude that “60% people have changed some of their habits and beliefs during the lockdown period.”

    In these turbulent times, we may speak & respond like a saint. We all have experienced The Graveyard Wisdom sometime in our lives. During burial or cremation rituals we all become wise and spiritual. Many would say that smoking, drinking and making money is an exercise in ultimate futility-absurdity. If we are pushed to live in and around cremation ground for a week, some of us may shed all aforesaid bad habits. If you conduct a survey at that point of time, we would appear sober, moderate and virtuous. This lockdown has similar potential to unleash the ‘acceptance of ultimate truth syndrome’. Yes, it sounds misanthropic.

    Mother earth and its children have definitely experienced major changes during last few weeks. These changes are still fluid and amenable to further change in every possible direction. But it’s too early to say that her children in Wuhan (including you and me) will not go back to old ‘wet’ market (habits) of seafood, exotic birds including bats. Till that time, it’s wise to keep the Gen R on hold.

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