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Do young people really not want to work?

What do millennials want? What does Generation Z want? Often there is the prejudice that they are lazy and unwilling to work. But is that really true? Or is it simply a prejudice of the 40+ generation?

Time to take stock.

generation z

First of all: I am 40 years old, my circle of friends and acquaintances ranges from mid-20s to to mid-60s. A colorful mixture of all age groups.


A few months ago my friend Pauline your master – congratulations again! As part of the master party in the evening, I had the opportunity to exchange ideas with the so-called millennials and representatives of Generation Z. As a 40-year-old, I broke the age limit and was otherwise mainly surrounded by mid-20-year-olds.

I didn't want to miss the chance to get a deeper insight into the needs and views of the mid-20s. This resulted in some interesting discussions on the subject of work.

This topic not only interests me personally, because I find it incredibly important to have an open, honest and appreciative communication between generations. No, it also affects me professionally, because we keep getting inquiries about employer branding.

Plus: I keep hearing from friends, who are entrepreneurs themselves, that "young people just don't want to work hard anymore". But what is behind it?


My generation (like I said, I'm 40) often makes the mistake of thinking "what are the young people supposed to tell me?". I think we don't listen to each other enough. There is a problem with ego and communication.

The “older ones” are more experienced and mature, yes, of course that has advantages. Nevertheless, they are not omniscient and often run the risk of thinking too narrow-minded - true to the motto "it was always like that".

I feel like Millennials and Gen Z question more than my generation or the older generation. Especially in conversations with friends who are 15 to 20 years younger than me, I notice how reflective the younger generation is - a quality that I often miss in my generation. So we can learn a lot from the younger generation.


The conversations at Pauline's master's party gave me an even better sense of what young people really want.

They want meaning in their lives, including a job that they consider as meaningful.

A big problem, I think, is the question of perspective. What do I mean? The young generation only knows crises, they are in permanent crisis mode and know practically nothing else: climate crisis, financial crisis, economic crisis, corona crisis, energy crisis. This is exacerbated by the media's negative focus.

In addition, there is high inflation and the realization that you probably can't build up anything anymore these days. “I will never be able to afford a home of my own. So why try at all? With my parents I saw how bad excessive stress is (work-life balance). But at least they still knew what they were working for - owning a home was still affordable (sometimes even with only one full earner in the family). And today that is no longer possible. So why make an effort?”

In addition, climate change will change a lot in the future anyway. So why have children? "I will probably never be able to go on vacation with my children, because there will be a desert then."

generation z

Here we come to an interesting point: Perspectives are the most important motivating factor of all. If someone has no perspectives, why make an effort? For what? Doesn't make any sense. Thinking about this, I can understand the often described "lack of work ethic" among young people.

On the topic of money: Yes, salary is also a big topic. Many employers pay low salaries. Especially with the current inflation, there is a wide gap between salary and cost of living. Salary is also seen as a kind of appreciation.

The topic that I perceived as the main problem, however, can be summarized under the term "old white man": disrespect, especially towards women, already at the job interview, a bad working atmosphere (caused by the boss) and bullying are the main factors, why many young people do not take a certain job.


Yes, there are "lazy ones" - but in every age group. In my experience, this is more due to the parental example that was set, the social environment with which one surrounds oneself and the level of education.

This is fueled by excessive social benefit payments (at least in Austria and Germany). The difference between unemployment benefits and the minimum salary is just too small to accept a full-time job.

Motivation to go to work? Nope.


A few years ago we developed the branding for Spedination. Recruitment of employees, lived values internally and externally as well as a strong, family-like team spirit were decisive factors for the managing director Thomas Kogler.

But if you think good employer branding alone is enough, you think too short-sightedly. Values such as respect, meaningfulness at work, compatibility of private and professional life must also be lived - day after day. Especially from the management level. Employer branding conveys these values to the outside world.

"The feedback on the website is so good that sometimes you might think people just want to say something nice for the sake of it. But what's nice about it is that emails come via the contact form from people who have nothing to do with transport , just to say that the homepage makes you want to work for us.” – Thomas Kogler, Spedination GmbH


We don't listen to each other enough. As a result, there is often a lack of understanding of the needs of the other person. And no matter how young or old someone is, a respectful and polite tone is the basis for positive interaction.


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