The great hope for the next generation

In the labour market, too, everyone is looking forward to Generation Z. It is celebrated as a source of hope to make companies fit for the future. As a result, there is already a competition for pole position in the race for this promising young generation, where the Z-lerareare are still largely in training.

As part of the rheingold research series “Understanding Gen Z”, we are therefore devoting ourselves to the question of how this generation looks at the professional world, what expectations, hopes, fears and fears moves them. From this we derive ideas and recommendations for employers with regard to personnel communication, employer branding and the recruitment and leadership of the young target group.

“I want to at least keep my parents’ living status.”

1,000 options, what to do?

The choice of occupation is perceived by Gen Z as a major choice of direction. Young people face an immense variety of opportunities and feel that they are in demand, that the university and the employers are advertising for them, on posters, on social networks and in events and job interviews.

At the same time, they suspect how central the profession is to one’s own life. The topic is brought to the attention of the offspring of school and parents, they are provided with discussion and counselling services, psycho-tests, internships and information all around. Gen Z is also used to finding in-depth background information on the Web from a child.” Therefore, at the age of 18, they can speak impressively competently about personality development, leadership styles, work-life balance or drivers of job satisfaction. In particular, the representatives of Gen Z can describe a wide range of expectations and requirements for the profession in a very precise manner:

  1. The profession is supposed to enrich life and personality, the keyword vocation often falls in our conversations. He should take up his own inclinations, a piece of his own identity and ideally never get boring.
  2. At the same time, work should not dominate life, but leave room for leisure, hobbies and family. Interestingly, men in particular reflect the desire for a family of their own and see themselves in the role of supplier in perspective. They are therefore looking for a profession “that can feed a family” and at the same time leaves sufficient space for a family life.
  3. For young women, the foundation of meaning is more important. They bring more emphasis on the social contribution of their professional activities and also weigh it against the value of family or their own children.
  4. The GenZ has great expectations with regard to everyday work. It is a horror to have to torment oneanother every morning at work and do boring routine work or to have to rub up on unproductive power struggles. They often experience the daily work of their parents too monotonous and stressful. On the other hand, young people want variety, flexibility and room for manoeuvre for their own initiatives and development.
  5. After all, the representatives of Generation Z are looking for security, reliable conditions, clear guidelines and superiors who accompany them in partnership. The requirements for the boss are clearly formulated: he or she should be a professional role model, choose a speech on an equal footing, lead sensitively and at the same time offer freedoms for the development of the next generation. The ideal boss acts like an influencer in the workplace, who inspires and accompanies, does not overwhelm, but acts like a big brother out of an almost caring attitude.

These requirements are anything but nice-to-have for Gen Z. All in all, they create an enormous claim: to the profession, to the employers and to themselves. For the greatest fear of Gen Z is to make wrong decisions and ultimately not to be happy in the chosen professional life. This creates uncertainty and stress during the training of high learning and performance pressures and during the job-finding phase.

“I want to be able to be there when my child is taking the first steps.”

Employers must offer flexible stability

Employers arrive at Generation Z insecurely in search of a start, a first professional home in which they want to feel safe, try out and develop. In order to be attractive here, they must communicate stability as well as mobility and freedom for the personal development of the Gen Z applicants.

Initially, it is mainly about the immediate working environment, a pleasant working atmosphere, nice colleagues, co-partnerships and an easy start to everyday work. Against the background of concern about deciding too early or making the wrong decision, the decision for the job should not seem like a fateful determination. Instead, a flexible perspective for the future should be conveyed, which offers young people a wide range of options, e.g. Department, topic, or location change.

In this context, Generation Z is constantly bringing into play the start-up, which for them feels like a modern form of family business. It promises a youthful working atmosphere, manageability, cohesion among like-minded people, dynamism, variety and scope for personal development.

“If I have children, then only one, more is socially indefensible and is difficult to reconcile with a profession.”

Study design

In a compact rheingoldSprint, a total of 20 students, trainees and students, between the ages of 18 and 24, were interviewed. Women and men were represented at 50 each. 2 rheingoldGroups, 6 rheingoldInterviews and 6 rheingold voiceMessagings were conducted. In terms of content, we talked to young people about the world of work, the choice of a career or training path, the expectations of employers and the concrete steps towards starting a career.


The rheingold expert

Sebastian Buggert

Sebastian Buggert

Sebastian Buggert has a degree in psychology and is a member of the management board at rheingold. His research focuses on trade, the media, and the service and finance industries. He is an expert in the field of digitization and has been intensively involved for a long time with the influences or opportunities of digital change, both for markets and for qualitative market research. Phone: +49 221-912 777-34 E-Mail: