COMPANY executives said they are overhauling their business practices to unlock the leadership potential and address the changing expectations of Gen-Z and millennial workers.

Flatter organizational structures are deemed necessary to unleash the potential of the two generations as they rise to leadership roles, they said at a panel discussion at the BusinessWorld Forecast 2024 economic forum on Wednesday.

“A command and control structure does not work anymore,” Carlos Ramon C. Aboitiz, chief corporate services officer at Aboitiz Power Corp., said. “We need to allow (Gen Zs and millennials) to articulate their own vision, and kill policies that no longer make sense.”

They said openness, empathy, agility, balance, and purpose are critical values to nurture in the workplace.

“They need opportunities to pilot programs and proofs-of-concept, which the company can do small-scale. Give them that safe space to fail,” said Jericho P. Go, senior vice-president and business unit general manager at Robinsons Land Corp.

“Crazy ideas may not be crazy after all. Voice it, put it in a business plan, and justify its worth in the company,” he added, noting the importance of embedding lifelong learning in company initiatives.

Isabelle Gotianun Yap, executive director and vice-president at East West Banking Corp., said Gen Zs and millennials comprise 81.3% of the company’s workforce, with about 60% holding managerial roles.

Mr. Aboitiz noted that the average age of employees in his company is 36, with about 70% consisting of Gen Zs and millennials.

“They have the ability to quickly harness technology and new ways of working,” Ms. Yap said. “With our young leaders who had a familiarity with low-code, no-code process automation, we were able to quickly start a community of practice with them, optimizing technologies and systems for the company.”

Additionally, Ms. Yap noted the need to continuously improve learning programs and tools for sustainability, alongside providing more and better quality feedback because the two worker cohorts value it.

“We should not overplay these generational changes. There is nothing to be fearful of,” Mr. Aboitiz said. “(Current) leaders need to overcome (these fears).”

“Understand how our behaviors and expectations are different, and design an environment to allow for the coming together of these differences,” he added.

“Communication is key. Listen to understand,” Mr. Go said. “They will maximize the use of tech to increase efficiency and improve sustainability.”

“Don’t be afraid to share your vision and higher purpose for the company. Once it is adopted by the next generation, it will light a fire in them.” — Miguel Hanz L. Antivola