Attracting and retaining Generation Z: insights from YouConnect

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Recently, a client of ours, an internationally renowned law firm, sought insights into what drives Generation Z in their career choices. This query led to a broader exploration at YouConnect, where we’ve been engaging with an increasing number of Gen Z candidates, a trend we anticipate will only increase as they gain more professional experience. Currently, those belonging to Generation Z are aged 27 years or younger. Through our own experiences and research into workplace expectations, we've identified several key areas for organisations to assess alignment with Gen Z's values and expectations.

Flexibility and work-life balance

This generation values employers who offer flexible working arrangements for several reasons, significantly influenced by their desire for a balanced lifestyle. This flexibility allows them to work from home, fitting work around personal commitments rather than the other way around. It supports their interests outside of work, such as sports, hobbies, or attending educational courses, contributing to overall well-being and personal growth. Yet, we’ve noticed that not all Gen Z candidates seek such flexibility, with some finding greater stimulation in office-based work, provided that the emphasis isn’t solely on output. Employers who invest in team-building and sports activities contribute significantly to fostering a sense of team cohesion and connection, aligning with Gen Z's preferences.

Moreover, the option for flexible hours or the ability to work remotely supports their desire to travel and explore new cultures, facilitating a seamless blend of professional growth and personal experiences. Gen Z prioritises employers who not only understand but also support this integration of work and life.

Empathetic leadership and mental health support

Another significant aspect is the demand for empathetic leadership and a supportive approach to mental health. Gen Z professionals value environments where leaders understand and act upon the mental health challenges faced by their teams. A study of Deloitte Digital unveiled that Gen Zers ranked empathy as the second most crucial quality in a boss, while leaders, on average, place it just fifth. Instances of feeling undervalued, overworked, or navigating toxic work environments were common reasons we’ve heard for considering leaving a job.

Growth and development opportunities

Opportunities for professional growth and development stand out as crucial for attracting Gen Z. They are keen on roles that challenge them, allowing for both personal and professional advancement. Organisations that offer diverse, engaging work and that invest in their employees' potential will find it easier to attract and retain this generation. Gen Z clarified that the specific career pathway may not be as important as demonstrating a commitment to their growth and development.

Making an impact

Gen Z values direct client interactions and opportunities to contribute meaningfully to projects.

This generation seeks roles where they can see the direct effect of their work, not just in the context of business success but also in making a positive difference in society. They value employers who integrate CSR into their business model, allowing employees to participate in initiatives that align with their personal values and contribute to broader societal goals, even during work hours. This dual focus on professional impact and social responsibility reflects Gen Z’s desire for meaningful work that goes beyond traditional job responsibilities.

A culture of inclusivity and innovation

A work culture that embraces diversity, equity, and inclusion, coupled with a commitment to innovation, is highly attractive to Gen Z candidates. They look for organisations that not only talk about these values but also actively integrate them into their business practices.


Successfully engaging with Generation Z might require adjustments in your workplace policies and practices. By emphasising flexibility, empathetic leadership, opportunities for personal growth, a commitment to meaningful impact, and fostering a culture of inclusivity and innovation, organisations can create environments that not only attract but also retain the vibrant and dynamic Gen Z workforce. It is critical to remember, however, that such generalisations may not hold true for every individual under the age of 27. Personalised assessments remain crucial. Ultimately, both Gen Z workers and their managers will invariably adjust attitudes and behaviours to form the workforce of the future together.

At YouConnect, we're dedicated to helping our clients navigate these changing expectations, ensuring they remain competitive and appealing to this upcoming generation of talent.

Authored by Stéphanie Verhaegen - 28 Feb 2024

YouConnect nv

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