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People & Society
4 minute read

Chasing talent: Adapting your organisation to attract and retain Generation Zs

At the forefront of every business lies the question: How do we attract and retain talent? While being a core element of driving successful businesses, the question has become further complex as we see a shift of values among younger generations.

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key takeaways

Generation Z values different things in an employer compared to previous generations. To join the race for attracting and retaining talent, leaders must strive to understand this generation on their own terms.


Vertical career paths and hierarchical cultures are losing appeal. Generation Z seeks purpose, influence and social collectivity.


Stress, anxiety and burnout among young people is far too high. Work-life balance is a top priority among Generation Zs when choosing their future employer.

Attract and retain Generation Zs

Attracting, retaining and developing young talent is crucial for the future of both our companies and society in general. However, this requires adapting to the changing values and demands of younger generations, which have evolved significantly in recent years.

The demands of flexibility, purpose and opportunity to design tailored career paths, are unfortunately also accompanied by feelings of stress, anxiety and burnout, putting employers to the task.

When choosing an employer, Generation Z values being heard, being part of a social collective, enjoying flexibility and having the opportunity to design career paths that fit their unique lifestyles. The traditional “one size fits all” approach is no longer attractive.

Unfortunately, statistics also show that far too many young people experience burnout and stress. To elevate the ability to attract and retain talent, employers must strategise how to accommodate this shift in values, implement necessary changes to counteract stress and burnout and prioritise employee well-being.

Generation Z – creativity, collectivity, purpose and involvement

According to Emilia Van Hauen, cultural sociologist and speaker, the new generation possesses a distinct set of values which highly affect their choice of future employers.

The ‘Generation Z’ (born between 1995 and 2010) grew up in family dynamics where being in tune with your feelings and emotions is not only valued traits but a very core belief – a necessity for performance and growth. In these family dynamics lies a heavy sense of democratic togetherness where the kids’ opinions are heard and treasured.

This puts both the old-fashioned logic rationality and the clear hierarchal dominance to the test, and a causes ripple effect in the offices, as intergenerational values clash. Generation Z want influence from day one and will not settle for being at the bottom of a hierarchy and being handed the ‘worst’ tasks.

External factors also seem to pave the way for new ways of thinking. Growing up witnessing several crises; climate crises, refugee crises, wars and a pandemic, talents increasingly seek out workplaces that fulfil a purpose.

Not only because they feel a high degree of responsibility in overcoming these large-scale obstacles, but also because modern society takes a heavy toll on our mental health, as cases of stress, burnout and anxiety skyrocket.

Gen Zs are both used to being heard and allowed to express their creativity from a quite young age. Therefore, they master creativity, diversity and relationships. This may be exactly what we need to solve all the wicked problems we face. To fully utilise their potential, employers must try to understand the talents on their terms and integrate this knowledge into their strategy.

Emilia Van Hauen, cultural sociologist and speaker

Understanding the premise

We stand before a valuable generation who wants to live purposeful lives and grow, but not under any circumstances. Certain demands need to be met, making it difficult – at times frustrating – to recruit and retain. To understand the premise, Emilia Van Hauen points to several questions, employers can ask:

“My advice to leaders is to ask talents the three following questions: 1. Who are you? 2. How can we create a togetherness? 3. What should we spend our energy and resources on?”

The results of not being properly geared could hurt your ability to compete for talent both in recruitment and in the day-to-day operations, as Gen Z values are at risk of colliding with others, potentially creating tension and conflict.

One approach to bolster involvement and growth of young talents, could be to situate the informal in the hierarchy by involving talents in so-called ‘thought circles’ where all inputs are valued and used to heighten innovation.

In Deloitte, we too recognise the difficulties of leading young people. Gen Zs want involvement and they are increasingly disinterested in vertical career paths. To make ourselves attractive, we must do something that makes sense for them, and make sure that they both feel part of a community and feel that they develop on an individual and professional level.

Camilla Kruse, People & Purpose leader, Deloitte Denmark

Why encouraging balance is key

According to Deloitte’s Danish 2023 Gen Z and Millennial Survey, 52% of Gen Zs and 43% of millennials feel burned out due to the intensity and demands of their workloads.

41% of Gen Zs and 38% of millennials even feel anxious or stressed all or most of the time.

73% of Gen Zs and 72% of millennials say that mental health support and policies are important when choosing a potential employer.

Encouraging work-life balance is therefore also key in attracting and retaining Generation Z talents.

Listen to the BizzPod with Emilia van Hauen, Camilla Kruse and Christian Jensby below or on Apple PodcastsSpotify or on the podcast app of your choice.