Generation Z and their perception towards the working environment

Analyzed in times of Covid-19

Intermediate Diploma Thesis, 2021

32 Pages, Grade: 1,7


Table of content


1 Introduction

2 Literature review
2.1 Different Generations
2.2 Gen Z and its Characteristics
2.3 Work values and expectations at work of Gen Z
2.4 Traditional vs. Modern Recruiting
2.5 Challenges and trends in recruiting
2.6 Hypotheses

3 Methodology
3.1 Objective
3.2 Quantitative approach
3.3 Psychometric characteristics
3.4 Elaboration of the survey
3.5 Survey frame data

4 Research Findings
4.1 Characteristics of the data
4.2 Results
4.3 Discussion
4.4 Recruitment guideline on how to approach Gen Z
4.5 Limitations and future research

5 Conclusion

6 References


The Generation Z is going to dictate the job market in the future. However, research on it is still occasional, especially in times of Covid-19. Consequently, best practices are lacking on how to approach the cohort. This work-project addresses the research gap by carrying out a cross-sectional study with the help of a questionnaire. The research revealed that Gen Z’ers are characterized by being digital-natives, who have diverse perceptions of the working environment. They are affected by events like Covid-19 which impaired their mental health, among other things. Based on these insights, practices to approach the cohort were designed.

Keywords: Generation Z, Perception of the working environment, Best practices on how to approach Gen Z, Human Resource Management

This work used infrastructure and resources funded by Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (UID/ECO/00124/2013, UID/ECO/00124/2019 and Social Sciences DataLab, Project 22209), POR Lisboa (LISBOA-01-0145-FEDER-007722 and Social Sciences DataLab, Project 22209) and POR Norte (Social Sciences DataLab, Project 22209).

1 Introduction

Employees are an important part of companies. In the near future, firm’s success will be dependent on the recruitment and behavior of future generations. Currently, five generations are active in the job market. One of them is Generation Z, which has recently started to enter the job market, though the cohort is going to dictate it soon (Fratričová and Kirchmayer 2018, 28). In 2020, 20% of the workforce already consisted of Gen Z’ers (Half 2015). Currently, the so-called war for talents, an unstable economic situation, and skill-shortages have put companies in competition for employees. Companies can build a competitive advantage, if able to recruit the best employees (Șupeală 2018, 1–3). To be competitive in the long run, companies have to analyze values, trends, expectations, etc., from Generation Z. Thus, they will be able to build knowledge upon how the cohort is shaped as future employees and be capable of recruiting and retaining the best talents. The new generation will be an intangible asset for companies, shortly (Sidorcuka and Chesnovicka 2017, 807). But managers don’t always understand the differences between ages and hence don’t take the right action to address them. (Urick, Hollensbe et al. 2017 as cited in Maloni, Hiatt, and Campbell 2019, 1). Companies need to understand how the perception towards the working environment has changed from Gen Z’s perspective and which behavior patterns are unknown. If identified, recruiting practices have to aim at what motivates the cohort and meet their expectations. Research studies on Gen Z are becoming more frequent. However, they are still occasional and recruiting-best practices are lacking. Furthermore, conducted research is most likely to be restraint, as Gen Z just started to enter the job market. Consequently, even more members were underaged in previous studies and their character wasn’t fully developed. Especially during times of Covid-19, academic research is rare on the effects of the pandemic for the generation. This research gap shall be addressed with the thesis. The aim is to answer the following research question: What are best practices for companies to approach Generation Z?

2 Literature review

This section will summarize the current literature on Gen Z’s characteristics, their examined work- values and recruiting trends. Moreover, the rare academic literature on Covid-19 and its impacts on Generation Z will be examined. The literature should be published within the last years, as many Gen Z’ers were underaged in the recent past and not fully matured. Due to already conducted research, in different countries, different industries, at other times, there are limitations to identify distinct features on the cohort of Gen Z. Therefore, with this holistic approach, the claim is to gather different views on their values and expectation. Last but not least, based on extensive literature research, hypotheses will be designed.

2.1 Different Generations

For the first time, five generations are active on the job market; Generation Z, Generation Y, Generation X, Baby Boomers and Traditionalists (Bejtkovsky 2016, 105). Transitions between generations are fluid. Therefore, the literature assigns specific periods to them, which can deviate. Generations are shaped by their own upbringing and their social background but also from events, trends and chronological dates, which they have in common with everyone else at that time. At a young age, these influences result in individual characteristics and expectations of the working environment. Differences between cohorts have already been discussed in the literature in the past. However, research on Gen Z is still sporadic, especially in times of Coronavirus.

2.2 Gen Z and its Characteristics

In the literature, there are different definitions of Gen Z and how to classify them. The definitions include the years from mid-1990 to mid-2000s (Sivabalan, Yazdanifard, and Ismail 2014, 178–79). For this thesis, Gen Z is classified as follows: Members of Gen Z have been born between 1995-2010 (Christensen, Wilson, and Edelman 2018, 1; Maloni, Hiatt, and Campbell 2019, 2). The following table summarizes identified characteristics of Gen Z’ers:

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

The current pandemic has a significant and most likely long-lasting impact on the cohort, as it is a “generation-characterizing” moment (Jankowski 2020). During the pandemic, friends, relationships were tested and Gen Z’ers had to distance themselves in their prime years of social interaction (Sample 2020). From a survey in America, Gen Z members say that Covid-19 has had an adverse effect on their finances, which is why they will be careful in terms of their spending in the future. Also, 37% reported that they suffered mentally (Leonhardt 2020). Many internships got canceled, while other Gen Z’ers experienced how their parents lost their jobs or reduced their working hours. Furthermore, due to the pandemic, the cohort has more concerns about their professional future and falling behind at school (Gurchiek 2020). Since the beginning of the pandemic, online videos are consumed the most in terms of media consumption, followed by Online TV/Streaming and Online Games (Jones 2020). Overall, the academic literature is rare on the effects of Covid-19 on Gen Z’s characteristics, especially as it is still unfolding.

2.3 Work values and expectations at work of Gen Z

The following table summarizes examined work values and expectations of the cohort:

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

2.4 Traditional vs. Modern Recruiting

Recruitment is one of the core parts of any company. It is mainly about generating a candidate pool, filtering the pool and selecting suitable candidates (Thakar 2016). Traditional recruitment methods are considered the following: announcements in local papers, office postings and tem­porary working agencies (Kaye and Bassmann 2013), but also contractual employment (Thakar 2016). Nowadays, recruiting shifts towards online tools to easily and quickly source candidates (Sivabalan, Yazdanifard, and Ismail 2014, 178–79). Therefore, modern recruitment commonly uses social media since it allows companies to access a vast candidate pool. Common social media platforms are, e.g., Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter (Kaye and Bassmann 2013). Other modern recruitment channels are company websites, events, trade journals, email campaigns (Shalini 2020), job fairs and job portals (Thakar 2016).

2.5 Challenges and trends in recruiting

In the last couple of years, a change process has occurred in recruiting and it shifted to a more digital approach, called E-recruiting. Jobs are now posted via social media, the intranet, etc. E-recruiting is of high importance as it gives flexibility, allows to learn more about the candidate than just their CV’s, more candidates can be reached and costs for recruiting are significantly reduced (Ritter 2010, 7–9). Other trends are to set a higher focus on the company’s ethics conduct/culture, as potential candidates are willing to inform themselves about a company’s reputation more than ever (Career Metis 2020). Employer branding is an increasingly important aspect of Human Resources and also a challenge. It is seen as a long-term HR strategy. Companies with a well-developed employer brand manage to retrieve a higher candidate pool, higher employee retention, increased productivity (Tanwar and Prasad 2016, 186–88) and can lower recruiting costs (Srinivasan 2007, 37). With the job market entry of Gen Z, an employer brand is of high importance (Șupeală 2018, 1), as it portraits values and offers to candidates (Santiago 2019, 143). Especially as it is a challenge to actively recruit the new cohort, as they have diverse expectations and work values. Outcomes of employer branding are job satisfaction, psychological contract, productivity and organizational commitment (Tanwar and Prasad 2016, 189–93). To achieve and secure the competitiveness of companies, the retention of high potential is an important aspect. Capabilities of these high potentials have to be continuously developed (Posthumus, Bozer, and Santora 2016, 431). Reasons for employee turnover are dissatisfaction, money, the company and working conditions (West, Ricks, and Strachan 2019, 11). The most cited reason for turnover is dissatisfaction (Jirasakhiran and Gullatte 2005, 598). Some ideas to prevent turnover are implementing compensation programs, upskilling opportunities, mentorship, planning of the career, flexible hours at work, support systems, additional salary based on performance and stock share of options (West, Ricks, and Strachan 2019, 12). This consequently leads to a higher identification with the company, motivation and retention. HR focused on traditional fields such as payment software, performance-tracking, motivation, management of career paths, etc. Though, the world itself is evolving at a higher pace than ever. It is crucial for HR to keep improving its company’s attractiveness and adjust to the new generations. Possible incentives could be shared workspaces, open spaces, green HR, activity-based working, home office regulations (Bencsik, Juhász, and Horváth-Csikós 2016, 96).

2.6 Hypotheses

Based on the literature review, eight hypotheses got established, sub-divided by the part of Gen Z’s characteristics/work values (H1-H5) and the recruiting part (H6-H8). A short paragraph, derived by the literature review, introduces each hypothesis.

The cohort is connected 24/7, feel uncomfortable without technology, are digital natives, have a short attention span and social media is very important to them. Still, they prefer face to face communications.

H1 – feeling uncomfortable without technology has no negative relationship with the desire to communicate face to face.

The cohort is likely to suffer from anxiety feelings, stress and feels uncomfortable without technology. Due to Covid-19, Gen Z’ers became more financially cautious and concerned about falling behind in their professional future.

H2 – feeling uncomfortable without social media and Covid-19 has a positive relationship with anxious feelings.

The Gen Z media consumption of videos rose during Covid-19, social media is essential to them and they are not fearful of changes.

H3 – Besides other social media channels, Tik Tok is of importance to reach the cohort.

Gen Z’ers are not motivated as much by money (Evans 2014). They strive for work-life balance, training and development, purpose of their work, etc.

H4 – compensation is not the most favored factor when choosing a job or to be motivated.

The cohort is not afraid of changes, wants to work in different industries and has a global mindset. It is important for them to feel valued, they want purpose in their work, perceive everyone as equal, favor work-life balance and strive for security.

H5 – employer branding increases the loyalty of Gen Z’ers.

Social media is vital to Gen Z’ers and they are always connected and affected by technologies.

H6 – the importance of social media has a positive relationship with the acceptance of social media recruiting.

Gen Z’ers are very visual when communicating, creative and have a short attention span.

H7 – integrating visuals in private conversations has a positive relationship with the acceptance of more visual recruitment communication from companies.

The cohort is considered as digital natives and not fearful of changes who are looking for answers on the internet. Also, they have different expectations of the working environment, which they want to be met.

H8 – Gen Z’ers create their opinion on companies through rating platforms (Glassdoor, Kununu, etc.)

3 Methodology

3.1 Objective

The aim of the empirical study is to answer the eight hypotheses and develop best practices on how to approach Gen Z in times of Covid-19. Therefore, a survey was designed, subdivided into three parts, not including the introductory part. The first part of the survey set the focus on the behavior of the cohort towards social media. Also, Covid-19 was addressed in the first part of the survey. This way, recruiting approaches can be adjusted towards the usage of social media and anxious feelings in the analysis-part. The second part set the focus on work values and expectations of the working environment. For example, the participants were inquired about what are motivating- and attractiveness factors at work. With an understanding of distinct work values and expectations, companies can improve how they engage with the cohort. The third part focused on recruiting channels. The cohort was asked how they research information about companies, if social media channels are a suitable platform for recruiting and if they are open to alternative ways of displaying job vacancies. The survey is presented in appendix 1.


Excerpt out of 32 pages


Generation Z and their perception towards the working environment
Analyzed in times of Covid-19
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
Generation Z, Perception of the working environment, Human Resource Management, Best practices on how to approach Gen Z
Quote paper
Eric Anders (Author), 2021, Generation Z and their perception towards the working environment, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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