#Generation Z: Herausforderung und Chance für den Arbeitsmarkt

#Generation Z: Challenge and opportunity for the labor market

When you think of Generation Z, you probably first think of smartphones, Instagram, selfies and Netflix. But this generation has much more to offer and is the future of the labor market. Despite all their potential, however, they also present many companies with major challenges.

Generation Z is the term used to describe the generation born around the turn of the millennium and later. The starting year varies between 1995 and 2010, depending on the criteria applied. The most important characteristic of Generation Z is their smartphone affinity. However, the transitions between the different generations are fluid and even older cohorts may exhibit Generation Z attributes, as this is only a theoretical construct. Other generation would be Generation X, Generation Y, Baby Boomers and Traditionals.


What is typical for Generation Z?

Like the other generation, Generation Z brings with it some traits that are characteristic of them. Probably the most striking feature is that they are constantly online. In the process, their digital and analog lives become partially blurred. Also typical are their difficulties in making decisions. The choice is greater than ever before and, thanks to the Internet, there is also a veritable flood of information. At the same time, the generation also tends to be non-binding. Instead of committing to companies or partners for the long term, they are often seen only as intermediate stations. Furthermore, the generation is under pressure to perform. With almost the entire generation on social media, the result is that there is constant competitive pressure, people are comparing themselves, and decisions are therefore constantly being questioned. This contrasts with the longing for the security of the family. With Generation Z’s world characterized in many ways by non-commitment and uncertainty, family provides a refuge for many, and parents serve as advisors. They also often name their parents as role models, as well as well-known entrepreneurs like Elon Musk. Besides family, friendship, freedom, health and justice are also important to them.


Generation Future

Just nine million people were born at the turn of the millennium. Yet despite their small numbers, this is precisely why they are so crucial to the labor market. More than 47 million people in Germany are now over 40, and a large proportion of them will gradually retire over the next few years. However, there is already a shortage of skilled workers that many companies can hardly compensate for. Generation Z brings with it many advantages. On the one hand, they are digital natives, which means they can drive digitization forward in companies. On the other hand, they are top trained. More than twice as many people are graduating from high school, far more than 30 years ago, and many of them go on to study. Fields of study are often chosen according to job opportunities, but this also leads to a relatively high number of students dropping out of their first field of study. Furthermore, they meet the requirements that globalization brings with it. Many bring very good language skills with them, among other things due to longer stays abroad. They also maintain (digital) contacts around the world. This makes them more tolerant and open to the world.


Generation Z and the labor market

Like every generation, Generation Z therefore presents the labor market with new challenges. While some companies are still struggling with digitization and the implementation of new forms of work, the new generation is already making different demands on them. Influenced by the Internet, Generation Z is used to instant feedback, for example. A picture is posted and within seconds the first likes roll in. A video is seen and commented on directly. Generation Z is no longer used to waiting and therefore also expects direct answers to applications or questions, for example, otherwise they are unsettled. Since much of their world happens digitally, postal applications are also a no-go for them.

Furthermore, the generation knows its value. Instead of desperately accepting any job, they can afford to be picky and make demands. They are not usually concerned with high salaries, even though these should be sufficient to at least make ends meet. Instead, other values are more important to them, such as seeing meaning in their work. Fun and compatibility with a future family are also not to be neglected. In addition, they do not want to become the burnout generation, which is why it is important to them that overtime is not the rule and that work and private life are strictly separated. Although digitization is a significant part of their lives, it also gives them cause for concern, particularly with regard to their choice of career. Many people are uncertain about which professions will still exist in 10, 20 or even 40 years and which will be taken over by robots in the near future.


Winning over Generation Z

If a company wants to inspire Generation Z, it must give them room to develop. Instead of following ready-made procedures, this generation prefers to work out its own solutions. The main focus should be on having fun and making the employees feel comfortable. As an entrepreneur, it is therefore important to involve the employees and ask them about their needs. Job ads that offer benefits such as home office, family-friendly or a gym subscription are no longer enough, as these are almost part of the standard repertoire. Instead, image plays an important role, for example. Companies should therefore present themselves as attractive and cooperative partners who care about the well-being of their employees and the corresponding values. In addition, the company should offer exciting projects and clearly formulated project goals. It is also important for companies to realize that a high employee turnover no longer says anything about the quality of a company, but is rather due to the lifestyle of the employees, who may well aspire to several different jobs. It is therefore important to define internally how to position oneself as an attractive employer instead. In this way, one becomes interesting again for later projects and can hope for recommendations.

Generation Z poses many challenges to the labor market due to their demands but also due to their new self-confidence. But the efforts are worth it, because the generation impresses with attributes such as internationality, multilingualism, intercultural skills, commitment, openness and sensitivity to those who think differently, ambition and digital skills. This makes them the perfect answer to the shortage of skilled workers.

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