Cracking the Gen Z code: What attracts top talent

February 21, 2024


8 min

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What are candidates looking for today?

“Most believe employees are driven by extrinsic factors such as money. But evidence shows that intrinsic motivations—such as the enjoyment or intellectual appeal of the job—are far more important.” – Richard Shotton, Applying Behavioural Science to Recruitment 

Understanding candidate motivations and effectively communicating them is key to gaining a competitive recruitment edge. So what’s important to talent today? Let’s discuss a few trends below.

Candidate distrust is high

24% of candidates are sceptical of promises companies make about job expectations, benefits, perks and culture 

Younger job seekers tend to care more about job flexibility, career growth and developing long term skills. Older ones care more about compensation, having a safe work environment and a workplace where they can connect with people. 

Money talks

Candidates are generally put off when there’s no salary displayed on the job advert. Jobs that have salaries displayed also perform better than the ones that do not. Salary transparency is a great way to promote equality. Pro tip: don’t just promote new jobs with high salaries, match the salaries of your current employees as well, so they don’t switch to another company.

Better work-life balance is key

One of the better outcomes of the pandemic is that it has led to better work-life balance for some people. Not having to commute for long hours frees up time to sleep for longer and be with friends and family. But work-from-home doesn’t work for everyone. Some employees don’t know when to shut shop and have clear boundaries between work and play. There is an unreasonable pressure to always be “on”. 

60% of the workers surveyed said they wanted to find more meaningful work

42% classed it as one of top 3 factors driving their career choices

Employees today want the company’s values to meet their individual values and feel good about the work they’re doing. Are they being recognised for their efforts in your company? Do they feel they’re part of a community? 


Ikigai is one of the most famous models of meaningful work. It’s a Japanese concept that asks you 4 questions:

What do you love?

What are you good at?

What does the world need?

What can you be paid for?

Job fulfilment is found at the intersection of these four questions. If you can build an authentic work culture around genuine shared values, identify how your workers find meaning and purpose in their work, and then effectively communicate it, then you’re far more likely to both keep the workers you have and attract the talent you need.


Ikigai. What do you love? What are you good at? What does the world need? What can you be paid for?

What should employers do?

Flexibility means different things to different people. But flexibility in terms of location is a proven game changer. Employees who got to taste it, saw its benefits and are not willing to give it up so easily. This is more pronounced when it comes to Gen Z or millennials and that group is soon going to make for over half of the current workforce. If you want to attract the best talent, it’s important to figure out what they want.

95% of employees say flexible work options had a high impact on employee retention 54% of employees would consider leaving their job if they weren’t afforded some form of flexibility 37% of employees would take a pay cut of up to 10% if it meant they could work remotelyOffer flexibility of location

Most companies are now adopting a hybrid working style, but the question remains: how do you find the right balance? At WorkMotion, employees say that a big reason they even applied for their current job is because of the added perk of being able to go on workations. 

A few companies like Google and Apple tried to enforce a back-to-office policy and it was met by severe resistance and backlash. The best model is to give employees flexibility that makes their work fit their lives and give them the agency to manage their own time. 

A new phenomenon that arose from the pandemic was workations: mixing holiday and work. Through our WorkFlex solution, you can offer this benefit to your teams and can have a powerful effect on retention. The beauty of it is that it’s free of cost to employers as long as you’re careful to minimise all compliance risks. 

Encourage flexibility of time

Another type of flexibility relates to time. You can think of the Monday-Friday 9-5 as a hangover from the industrial revolution. But it’s certainly not the most effective model anymore. The Monster report reveals that remote flexibility is one of the top 5 benefits that candidates look for. Research done by University of Melbourne on circadian rhythms shows that younger generations are not quite as sharp in the morning and their productivity peaks later in the day. Older generations are sharper in the mornings and it tapers off later in the day. So, the takeaway is to let people choose their work hours that suit their productivity. 

Consider 4-day work weeks

Many companies have successfully implemented 4-day work weeks with positive results. In the UK, there’s a massive trial going on with the participation of over 70 countries and 3000 employees. It will be fascinating to see the results of that study. However, one solution doesn’t always work for anyone. In certain industries and sectors, this concept doesn’t seem to work. What’s more important for employee happiness and satisfaction is trust and flexibility.

How can you deal with talent shortages?

Offer a better package than your competitors: This will definitely get more applications in but is significantly more expensive. 

Hire people with transferable skills: Target abilities rather than specific industry experience eg. creativity, leadership. Even better, why not train your existing staff and fill open positions? 

Find people in a wider geographical area: This could be at a national or international level. Though this is a good tactic, it does carry risks and visa and relocation costs. 

Taking the job to where the skills are: There are two types of international hiring: traditional hiring where people are hired and then relocated. In the UK, Brexit has aggravated the skill shortage to over 1 million workers leaving the UK. However, if a job can be done remotely, it can be done anywhere. 

42% of recruiters will consider candidates from outside their geographical region 

The availability of more remote work opportunities certainly allows you to hire from a much bigger candidate pool, but it also opens up your current workers to more hiring opportunities. 

If you’d like to learn more about this topic in depth, watch our webinar: From Great Resignation to Great Retention

How does an EOR help?

If you read news headlines today, they all allude to the fact that the unemployment rate is high on a global level. But if we look at western economies like the UK or Germany, there’s a sharp talent shortage. There’s a big opportunity here for forward-thinking companies that are quick to embrace the realities of remote work. 

Southern Europe has a high level of qualified, unemployed talent and remote hiring here can be a solution for western Europe’s labour shortage. Spain has a large pool of skilled workers with an excellent command over English who don’t have enough opportunities. 

If you expand further and look at the BRIC countries: Brazil, India and China, the number of STEM graduates is 16 times of what it is in the UK and Germany. These graduates are highly qualified and can easily move into tech roles. 

There are 16 times more STEM graduates in BRIC than in the UK and Germany combined. Global employment is a superpower but a compliance challenge. From doing payroll in the right way to setting up legal entities, there are many things that need to be considered.

With Employer of Record (EOR), you can quickly employ top talent in a completely compliant way all around the world. So you don’t have to worry about how labour laws and taxes differ between Bulgaria or Sweden or Singapore. For example, if you’re an ambitious company struggling to find Cloud Engineers in London, you now have the luxury of choosing the best engineers in over 160 countries. You source the best person for the job, and with WorkMotion you can have them working for you in just a few days.

Employing talent abroad with WorkMotion

Would you like to understand how WorkMotion can help you onboard talent in over 160 countries? Talk to our experts today and begin your journey towards building a resilient and global workforce. 

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