Generations Y and Z: What relationship to work?

Published: 07-04-2022

The arrival of gen Y and Z on the job market, combined with the digitalization of organizations, is shaking up habits. This deep change, resulting from a stronger desire to accomplish oneself and give meaning to one's daily actions, represents an opportunity for companies. Despite different expectations, are these generations' relationships to work any different?

1/ Generations Y and Z. Who are we talking about?

Although different, Generations Y (people born between 1980 and 1995) and Z (born between 1996 and 2010) are complementary. The first one, also called Millenials or digital migrants, has lived through the digital transition. The second, digital natives, did not experience this transition.

However, these two generations share strong values. Growing up in an ecosystem that combines the widespread use of digital technology, economic uncertainty, and social and environmental awareness, they share a vision: the failure (in their opinion) of the current model (from the past) in terms of employment. 

The job market can no longer promise what it did for the baby boomers: attractive pay and job security.

These generations will represent more than 50% of the active population within five years. Therefore, it has become urgent for companies to understand their aspirations better and adapt to them.

The goal? Attract and retain the best talent!


2/ The company, the cornerstone of the social link

Despite the change in working methods (telecommuting widespread) over the last two years, the company still plays a significant role in terms of social ties. Although they are ultra-connected, gen Y and Z give particular importance to these human interactions, especially in their professional daily life.

Let's not see any paradoxes here. Interactions between colleagues (face-to-face or fully remote), team spirit, a sense of belonging and collaborative work are at the heart of their aspirations. The development of third places is not unrelated to this need, key to well-being at work, which is essential for young workers.


3/ Work/life balance and well-being at work

Remuneration is no longer the Alpha and Omega when choosing a new job. This evolution is part of a quest for a balance between work and personal life. In this respect, it is not surprising that 92% of gen Z workers believe that it is the company's responsibility to contribute to the well-being of its employees. This is why QWL is particularly important in the satisfaction of young workers.

4/ Loyalty to the company

Let's put an end to preconceived ideas. If it is true that the relationship to the work of gen Y and Z differs from that of the baby boomers, their volatility is not as significant as we would like to believe. This is not the case; they are often described as zappers and, by extension, unfaithful to their companies.

They are indeed looking for a sense of purpose, a balance between work and personal life, and opportunities to evolve, but they are still willing to stay with their company for the long term. It's not the change (of organization) that drives them but the possibility of evolution (intrapreneurship). A 2018 Forbes study agrees with this. 

5/ Autonomy and flexibility: keywords

Working methods have already shifted towards more flexibility since the beginning of the COVID crisis, and this trend is accelerating: more than 70% of generations Y and Z want to be able to choose their working hours and location. 


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