9 May 2023

Generation Z: Why feedback is crucial

Generation Z: A working culture tailored to the needs of young professionals today

Many people complain about Generation Z, claiming that young people born between 1995 and 2010 are not ready to get down to business and at the same time have far too high expectations. Generation Z expert Felix Behm explains in the following interview what moves the young generation, what needs to be changed to meet their expectations, and what employers have to do to retain young talents in the long term.

Are there any prejudices against Generation Z that can't bear anymore?

Felix Behm:

I often hear that Generation Z is leisure-oriented, demotivated and unqualified. That's something I can't hear anymore because it's simply not true. In my podcast, a lot of young people have their say, and they prove exactly the opposite.

Generation Z is very demanding and says things that previous generations also thought - but would never have dared to say. They can do this because they are so few in comparison, and this bitterly offends some of the older generations. Because for the older ones, the guiding principle was still more like, "Be glad you have a job at all." That's different now, but it has nothing to do with the fact that the young are supposedly unqualified or unmotivated.

Felix Behm: Keynotespeaker for the New Work Generations

What options do employers have to make attractive offers to Generation Z and retain young employees in the company for the long term?

Felix Behm: I'll sum it up in three words: Meaning with prospects. Of course, it's possible to believe that every job makes sense in some way - but that's no longer enough. Today, meaningfulness also means: Is this company addressing sustainability or climate change, for example? These are the issues that are shaping Generation Z today. Almost one in four wouldn't work for a company that wasn't concerned with sustainability. In addition, it is also important that employees really feel part of the company and not just a number - then they also recognize their perspective. This is helped by structures that allow employees to actively involve themselves and help shape the work process.

What aspects of the feedback culture need to change to make digital natives feel more comfortable on the job?

Felix Behm: The scary thing is that in many companies there is no feedback culture at all. That makes it all the more important to take a look at what the reality of Generation Z's life looks like: Many are on their smartphones and social networks for six to eight hours a day. You constantly get feedback in the form of likes. And one Like is not enough. No, ten likes, 50 likes, that's the feedback many are looking for. And in the working world, if I only get a good word from my employer once every two years, that's simply not good enough for many Z-ers. My advice is therefore: Regular development meetings must be included. It doesn't cost much to have a five-minute feedback meeting every week. And the second task is to approach this discussion in the right way: Criticism must be packaged in such a way that it is accepted, and praise must not be lacking either.

How will the working world change in the future when Generation Z takes over the management posts of the previous generation?

Felix Behm: We get a good perspective by looking at many startups. Young companies are already trying out many things. Some ideas work better, some less so. Some companies, for example, do without a fixed management position: Here, everyone is allowed to be the boss. It sounds like a crazy idea, but it has already worked. Ultimately, however, one trend will prevail above all others: the elimination of unnecessary hierarchical levels. I recently spoke with an entrepreneur whose company manufactures trucks. When a wrench needs to be ordered in the workshop, five employees from five hierarchical levels fill out a form one after the other. As a result, it takes three months for the wrench to arrive. Companies like this will hardly exist in the future, because the younger generation wants to work independently and demands this vehemently.

Press contact

Portrait Tanja Stopper
Tanja Stopper
T: +49 (0) 721 3720 2301
F: +49 (0) 721 3720 99 2301