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News & opinion

13 FEB. 2019

What is the next generation looking for in employers?

Sabine Georgi

Sabine Georgi

Head of Business Development, Germany

Berlin, Germany


A few months ago, Sabine Georgi explored with a panel at ExpoReal (Munich) a burning question many employers are asking: “what the future employee is looking for in an employer in Germany”? The findings are insightful.

Benefits, promotion or salary?

The war for talent is a topic constantly discussed, not only in the real estate sector, but also in other industries, from computer technology to banking. Making sure people are hired with the right salary, right qualification and fit into a company culture is very important. Speaking with colleagues, I recognised that there are gaps and/or differences in perception when it comes to work ethic, working spaces and time commitments. But looking specifically at young people, what are the requirements to make them feel fulfilled in their work? What working environment do they value most: benefits, promotions, or salary? This article just scratches the surface of a bigger question of how to engage with Generation Z, how to better understand them, and how to attract the best and keep them engaged, at the same time as being productive and competitive.

Generation Z: dynamic, digital and flexible

RICS, as an organisation, wants to engage as much as possible with young people that are entering the work force – they are the future of our profession. For that, we need to know what Generation Z needs, how they learn, how they put their skills into practice and what their output is. From reports in other sectors and industries, we were given the impression that Google and similar companies offer the exact requirements for a balanced workplace and lifestyle. According to this very widespread opinion, Generation Z is dynamic, digital and mobile, characterized by an international, multicultural shared economy. They also thrive in flexible work models for varying employers. Based on these assumptions, future organizational structures and workplaces are developed.

What if future strategies are based on false reality, with expectations over- or underestimated?

There are two dangers to recognise: if the needs of the next generation are overestimated this could lead to sunken costs, while underestimating them could lead to a miscommunication/misunderstanding between employer and the younger generation. The Competence Center Process Management Real Estate (CC PMRE) in Germany posed the question to both employers and potential young employees and asked what they were looking for in employees and employers. The CC PMRE then published a quantitative analysis where both voices were heard. The results of the study should contribute to mutual understanding and help to avoid bad investment decisions, as well as promote staff engagement and help to align their corporate strategy with the future.

Permanent positions remain a preference

In the media, this generation is seen as self-determined, self-reliant, with a strong desire for personal development. The results of the study confirm that this is in fact the case. In addition to self-determined, the support of family planning in particular is highly rated by the employee as well as health/wellness aspects. These personally motivated needs are the driving force of fulfillment unlike the willingness to take responsibility within the company e.g. associated sales responsibility. The younger generation is reluctant to gain a leadership position based on the issue of holding more responsibility, but still having the craving to hold major titles e.g. director or manager. Despite the desire for individual freedom, there is a parallel desire for stability. This is expressed by preferring a permanent position, a lack of willingness to be mobile and avoid a close link between work and private life.

Personal and direct contact is welcome, but co-working seems overestimated

Surprising findings also emerged in connection with the current highly discussed digitisation strategies. Young people reject the excessive use of digital media devices. Personal, direct contact and the bilateral exchange of information are clearly preferred to the use of digital media. Generation Z is striving for an open corporate culture in which errors are welcome. Another astonishing finding is related to co-working concepts: the desire to use coworking spaces is overestimated, as well as the complete dissolution of permanent office spaces (desk sharing). A mixture of both is more likely the right approach.

The younger generation is reluctant to gain a leadership position based on the issue of holding more responsibility, but still having the craving to hold major titles.

Acting ethically drives Generation Z; it's not all about profit

The findings above are interesting because it challenges what the initial thoughts were about Generation Z. There is a common misconception that young people love digitisation and want to use and take advantage of this in every way possible. This study turns this perspective on its head and magnifies the difference in what society thinks Generation Z wants and what they actually are looking for in employers. Generation Z wants to work for an employer that is not just profit hungry, but also cares about the environment and has social consciousness.

Are you an employer based in Germany? Read CC PMRE's 10 top tips to understand your Generation Z employees

1. Young people assess digital opportunities less and assess digital risks higher than the industry. Conflicts could rise with too large enthusiasm for digitisation on the part of the industry.

2. Family is top priority. To help make your employee feel that family comes first, promote family friendly programs.

3. Young people are very health-conscious. Employers should empower this by setting as a strategic goal workplace design and the use of digital media to promote healthy living.

4. Young people want flexibility in their professional development but also in their work timing/schedule. Be open to discuss work schedule flexibility. 

5. There is high expectation regarding encouragement of personal development. Failing to do this could cause a lack of satisfaction towards the employer.

6. Young people seek security. A reliable working relationship and a clearly assigned workplace, help to provide stability.

7. Salary remains to be one of the key criteria for choosing a job. Inadequate pay or not having the opportunity to have status symbols such as company cars or bonus systems leads to disappointment.

8. Young people are not satisfied with a shareholder value approach. The strategy should be balanced and include multiple aspects besides profit such as social responsibility and acting ethically.

9. Young people have more direct contact with their employer, with an open culture in which mistakes will be tolerated.

10. Generation Z focuses on a network-oriented culture. They seek an open exchange of knowledge without barriers and hierarchy among the company.

How are the latest trends impacting surveying?

It’s easy to assess what we do today, or what we did in the past. Trying to plan for the future is a much more daunting prospect.

Sean Tompkins

Sabine Georgi

Sabine Georgi

Head of Business Development, Germany

Berlin, Germany


Sabine joined RICS in April 2018 and is responsible for developing the global brand in Germany and gaining recognition for RICS’ standards and thought leadership. The property expert has long standing experience working for the German Property Federation (ZIA) and is committed to raising RICS’ profile and influence by developing strong ties at political, organisational and individual level with all relevant stakeholders.