While student populations in certain countries have varying concerns, most of Generation Z wants to make good money, to have a fair work/life balance, and to have access to professional training and development, according to "World's Most Attractive Employers," a survey of nearly 295,000 global business and engineering/IT students conducted by international employer branding firm Universum Global.
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The biggest companies may need to step up their games if they intend to attract this upcoming round of top talent. The Universum study shows that students want the following three things from their careers:
1. Gen. Z Wants to Make an Impact
Seventy-four percent of survey respondents say they'd like to work for a company with less than 1,000 employees.
"Graduates are concerned about getting lost in a big rolling wheel," says Jonna Sjövall, managing director – Americas at Universum Global. "They are very keen on making an impact and a difference overall, so they look at mid-sized companies as established enough but not too big to be able to make their mark in. Graduates want to find a workplace where they believe in the company's mission, vision, and leadership."
2. Like Millennials, Gen. Z Wants Work/Life Balance
Gen. Z's desire to work for smaller companies may in part be fueled by a desire for work/life balance.
"Generation Z is definitely interested in overall life balance," Sjövall says. "The difference from millennials is that Gen. Z are more optimistic and have a quite strong desire to make something out of themselves. They are questioning and challenging typical education norms. They also question if a typical corporate leadership career and even a university degree will be worth it. They are interested in where technology will take the world they are growing up in."
3. Gen. Z Wants to Be Innovative
Beyond balance, the next generation of the workforce expresses a desire to make a difference.
"Gen. Z is also thinking about overall quality of life," says Sjövall. "They view a feeling of work/life balance as having a lot to do with finding a workplace where they can fit in as a person – a place where they can be part of the mission of the company and be themselves. Gen. Z is all about fitting in and feeling that their efforts eventually lead up to something bigger and important to them. Purpose is important, not only in terms of overall societal impact, but also direct bottom-line impact and new innovations. So to sum it up: Gen. Z is interested in what drives the business forward and how that is mirroring the speed of information in today's world."
We're just beginning to understand what's important to Generation Z, but Universum's global study of this crop of talent gives employers a pretty good idea of how to start attracting them.
"They want a place where they can be themselves and perform at their best, where they get inspired about the future," says Sjövall. "They value freedom of choice even more than millennials. Gen. Z is very much a give-and-take generation: What is the ROI of me doing this or putting in this effort? Gen. Z also values leadership more than millennials, who focus a lot on feedback. Gen. Z wants leaders to provide clear direction, clear decisions, and less leading by example or encouragement. Strong leaders who can show the way and provide an interesting mission drive attractiveness."