Generation Z as a game changer
on the labour market?!

Gen Z is in the starting blocks and is the next generation to conquer the labour market. This means that companies now employ staff from up to four different generations. What is important to Gen Z in the world of work?

The exact demarcation of the different generations has not been clearly defined until today. Different researchers and experts define different vintages and the transitions between generations is often fluid, so a rigid definition is not necessary.

Based on the McKinsey study, we will stick to this definition in this article – Generation Z 1995 to 2010.

Generation Z, also called Digital Natives 2.0, is the first generation to grow up with smartphones, laptops and the internet. A world without freely accessible internet is not even known to them! This generation was born into a constantly changing, digitalised and increasingly globalised world. The refugee crisis, Brexit and climate change are examples of events that influence this generation. The extremes between tolerance and equality (strengthening the rights of the LGBTQ community, #metoo movement) and populism shape the values of this generation.

How can Generation Z be characterised?

A characterisation of a generation is never possible in a uniform way, but it should give an overview of values.

  • Generation Z is always online (“Generation always on” or also “Zoomer”): real life merges with digital life.
  • Freely accessible information on the internet and little time mean that Gen Z finds it difficult to make decisions.
  • The pressure to perform is higher than for other generations due to the constant social media presence (comparison of lifestyles). Self-representation, recognition and material values characterise this generation.
  • Generation Z is characterised by realism. While Gen Y was still optimistic about the future, this generation is becoming disillusioned.
  • Gen Z is clearly more political and critical than Gen Y (“Fridays for Future”). Ecological issues and the sustainable use of resources characterise this generation and drive them to change and awaken.
  • Work-life cut / work-life separation: Where Generation Y still blurs the line between work and leisure, this generation is keen to draw a clear line.

What does Generation Z expect from everyday working life?

  • Regulated working hours and work-life separation: unlike Generation Y, this generation is keen to draw a clear line between work and leisure. Work-life blending was yesterday. Self-confidently, this generation stands for less overtime and individual working models. It is interesting to note that the focus is not on flexible working hours, which would imply that the generation itself works flexibly. On the contrary, this generation expects clear working hours in order to be able to enjoy regular leisure time.
  • The leader as mentor: Generation Z is not concerned with receiving instructions from a boss or having tasks delegated to them. This generation expects a leader who offers orientation as a mentor, promotes them individually and supports personal development opportunities. Inspiration, self-determination and meaningfulness of work are values that should be lived by the leader.

How do you lead and motivate Generation Z?

According to sociologist Klaus Hurrelmann, Generation Z was raised to be participative and independent – this is what they expect at home and at work. Equal treatment, positive reinforcement and protection are values that this generation values. This means that this generation wants to be involved in decision-making; a lack of appreciation and a harsh tone are not welcome among this generation. Concrete tips are the following

  • Acceptance of work-life separation
  • Constructive, appreciative and regular feedback
  • Encouragement through independent work
  • No false promises, but realistic statements
  • Involvement in decision-making processes
  • Meeting at eye level and direct communication

How do you recruit Generation Z?

  • Social media recruiting: The motto is: Be where Generation Z is: on the social media platforms TikTok, SnapChat, Youtube or from Instagram.
  • Mobile recruiting: For Generation Z, it is important that the application process is kept as simple as possible. Application portals must be designed in such a way that an application is possible with just a few clicks. And this is best done conveniently from a smartphone. It is therefore important that the career website is optimised for mobile devices.
  • Candidate Journey: The ever faster digital world has also changed the communication time of this generation. After submitting the application, Generation Z expects a quick feedback on the application. In times of a shortage of skilled workers, this generation knows its market value very well and is not prepared to wait weeks for feedback.

In times of a shortage of skilled workers and the “war for talents”, Generation Z knows their possibilities, their value and they self-confidently demand the framework conditions that suit them. The Baby Boomer generation in management, who live and prioritise other values, must initiate a change in thinking when recruiting and managing this generation. The right strategy for acquiring Generation Z talent creates a valuable competitive advantage for companies and creates the new challenge of creating a company with framework conditions that now meet the demands of four generations.

Article written by Bianca Altendorfer, CFR Global Executive Search Austria


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