The truth about Generation Z

February 2, 2023

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8 Minutes

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Gen Z standing at a wall

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Melanie Wagner is Country Manager DACH at HiBob. The company offers an HR platform that helps modern, dynamic companies drive productivity, engagement and retention. Melanie constantly strives for developing teams to reach their highest level of performance. She’s Gen Y but has a strong interest in the new generation on the labor market: Gen Z.

She spoke at WorkMotion’s Employer of the Future Event 2022 about HiBob’s research and findings about Gen Z and dispelled stereotypes around it.

Who is Gen Z?

We already know a lot about baby boomers and Gen Y, but what is Gen Z about? What are their beliefs? What triggers them? What’s important to them and what do they prefer in their workplace?

Gen Z are the people who were born between 1995 and 2010. In Germany, that accounts for 11 million people. They are the first truly global generation and 70% of them use their smartphones all the time. They don’t just go online. They live online!

Generation Z Map

Melanie describes Gen Z as follows: 

“I think they are citizens of the world. That’s how they see themselves. That’s how they live. That’s also how they engage within their careers. And because of being connected, their network is the world. They’re probably the most tech-savvy generation that we’ve ever seen in the workplace.”

According to some data in Germany, it’s possibly also the most female generation out there. In the German “Gymnasium” which is the highest secondary school, 56% are women and only 42% are men. This means that more women might hit the tech industry in the near future.

Gen Z as a workforce

HiBob conducted a study and spoke to 2005 young professionals working in the tech industry in seven countries: the UK, Islands, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, France and Germany. The questions asked were:

  1. How do you see your role?
  2. How do you see your career progression?
  3. How is it for you to work in times of an economic crisis?

Let’s take a look at 8 key findings:

#1 Impact: Gen Z stated that the economic crisis is having an impact on their careers and life. It’s a combination of the economic crisis and also the stress of the lockdowns during the pandemic

#2 Fears: This generation is experiencing economic and cultural changes that’s invoking fear and uncertainty. They also feel insecure about their current positions

#3 Future expectations: In Germany, 60% say they either expect to be laid off or that they are unsure about their future

#4 Expectations: 23% say that their experience of work at their current company is below their expectations. At the same time, 50% say it does meet their expectations. Only 30% say it exceeds their expectations

#5 Attitude: Gen Z has a can-do attitude and is committed

#6 Choice: They choose their employer wisely. If they decide to come on board, they tend to stay for a longer period and gain experience as well as seniority level

#7 Relationships: Relationships with co-workers and especially managers are very important. They want their managers to be their coaches and mentors, not their bosses

#8 Flexibility: Flexibility of location is key, while also getting to visit the office and socialize from time to time

The drivers of Gen Z

Gen Z employees are citizens of the world. They grew up with technology but at the same time they are experiencing a series of  crises one after another. They still know their worth and how special they are.

So, one of the things that is important to this generation is flexibility. Some of them graduated from high school during the pandemic. During that period, they couldn’t go to school or study abroad. That’s why traveling, being abroad, being in a different country or location became luxuries to them, and is now said to be one of the core luxury items of our times.

These are top 4 motivational reasons for Gen Z to have joined their employer:

Overview Drivers Generation Z

Melanie from HiBob stated:

 So let’s look at the drivers for Gen Z:

  1. Meaningfulness
  2. Appreciation
  3. Leadership at eye-level
  4. Social togetherness 
  5. Flexibility
  6. Changeability where it’s needed
  7. Values & ethics such as sustainability and environmental awareness

How to attract and retain Gen Z?

Companies need to bear in mind that not only the times we are living in are changing but also the workforce. Gen Z wants flexibility but also enjoys coming to the office. But how can companies handle this to attract and gain generation Z? These are the 5 top issues companies should bear in mind:

  1. If you have a remote-first company, make sure to offer regular meet-ups or/and site offs, where teams can enjoy some time together. This might be especially important if you have a diverse workforce and are hiring from everywhere. 
  2. Another option is to offer your employees workations. This involves allowing them to work temporary from abroad. To keep this generation attracted and to also to retain them, flexible work formats as well as personalized well elaborated career paths are one of the most important things. 
  3. Make sure to offer clear and good educational opportunities.
  4. Break traditional hierarchies.
  5. Compensation and flexibility is important. Gen Z wants to be paid fair for what they do. They don’t want to be measured on the length of their working hours. They know exactly what they want

Melanie believes that this generation has a vision and the willingness to change something. They like to inspire, be inspired and to build something better to solve the problems of the future. 

Compensation is not enough

To summarize, a good compensation plan is still not the most important thing to attract and retain this generation. It’s more about a good relationship with their coworkers and manager and enjoying what they’re doing at work. Flexible working models are gaining more and more importance and that’s what this generation will look for.

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