What Does Generation Z Want In A Job? This Study Has Answers

What Does Generation Z Want In An Employer?

The ability to work remotely is the third-most important work attribute for Generation Z, according to a new ESMT Berlin study

In the future of work, employers over the next 10 years are looking for professionals with a mix of technical skills as well as soft skills such as digital literacy, data literacy, and emotional intelligence, according to Bernard Marr, author of Future Skills: The 20 Skills and Competencies Everyone Needs to Succeed in a Digital World.

But what do employees want in prospective employers? As the oldest members of Generation Z finish undergrad and graduate degrees and prepare to enter the workforce, employers will have to cater to this large and rather particular population if they hope to stay competitive.

So what is Generation Z — generally defined as people born between 1997 and 2012 — looking for in a future employer? According to a new study from ESMT Berlin Master of Management graduate, Jan Malte Jeddeloh, the top three answers are: high salaries, stable contracts, and remote options.

But that’s not all. They also want to work for companies with strong reputations and in high-status positions.


In her study, “The Employer of the Future,” Jeddeloh sought to determine the most and least relevant work attributes for management graduate students belonging to Generation Z and, to a lesser extent, Generation Y, also known as Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996). Jeddeloh surveyed 626 students with an average age of 29 years who attended 29 Global Network for Advanced Management business schools. Respondents were 40.4% female and 58.3% male, and came from 72 different countries. The majority came from China, India, and the U.S.

According to the survey and a structured literature review, the five most relevant attributes for younger workers are salary, type of contract, remote work, company reputation, and status.

The five least important attributes are company size, bonuses, DEI, hours, and type of work.

The Great Resignation was a sort of a wake-up call for employers, Jeddeloh writes. “The pandemic has increased employees’ expectations of their employment and treatment at the company. Furthermore, since generation Z is entering the workforce, and despite many similarities with generation Y, a new set of values and different patterns of behavior are entering the job market too.”

will require employers to better understand the needs and wants of the rising number of young workers while integrating them into the current workplace norms. Not only will there be generational differences between workers, but employers will have to confront and adapt to worldwide crises, like the pandemic.


While salary was rated the most important work attribute by all respondent categories, there were significant differences in work preferences according to gender, culture, and professional background. Men, for example, focused more on classic-work attributes such as type of contract, atmosphere, career path, salary, and type of work.

Women preferred new work attributes such as remote work, work-life balance, sustainability, and purpose. People from Western countries rated new-work attributes more important to them than those from Asian countries. Least important attributes among all respondents include company size, bonuses, DEI, hours, and type of work.

“Overall, the results imply that companies need tailored solutions to attract and retain talent,” Jeddeloh writes in the executive summary. “Considering the diversity in findings, a company needs to be aware of its own offering and its target profile when recruiting new talent. This highlights the need for transparency regarding the company and the job offer. Comparison of jobs is easy in today’s world; thus, a lack of transparency will lead to a lack of trust.”

It’s not just about attracting new workers, but also keeping them. Jeddeloh literature review found that when employers met favorable workplace attributes, their employees had higher job satisfaction which positively affected company performance.

“Despite some overlapping values, generational differences are visible, underscoring the increasing importance of leisure, work-life balance, and individualization with each generation. These changes require adaptations of job offers for more recent generations,” Jeddeloh writes. “By fulfilling changing needs, talent can be retained and a competitive advantage – due to the positive correlation between company-specific knowledge and a company’s economic performance – can be created.”


Jeddeloh’s report makes four recommendations to employers who need to court the rising number of Generation Z and Y workers.

  • Salary needs to be at least industry average. “Jobs with below-industry average salary were disregarded by respondents, whereas above-industry-average salaries were predominantly chosen,” Jeddeloh writes.
  • Offers should be for a permanent contract. “Offered jobs with temporary contracts were disregarded.”
  • Remote work is crucial. It is the third most important requirement, but respondents indicated that flexibility in work must be provided.
  • Company’s reputation is decisive. “The reputation is a precious reflection of the company and underscores the importance of sustainability and DEI in today’s PR.”

“These indicated preferences by future GNAM graduates seem to be decisive in their decision-making process,” Jeddeloh concludes.

“At the same time, business schools need to take a closer look at their taught set of values for students since especially sustainability, DEI, and purpose did not have the standing it should have had considering our global situation. Thus, the research also serves as a wake-up call for business schools, to emphasize more the importance of future-relevant values like sustainability.”


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