Life balance, meaning, ethics … The keys to retaining young people in business

Young people born after 1995, designated by the term “Generation Z” and driven by the 4th industrial revolution, question the management practices within the company. One of the key themes is the relationship with fidelity. While long-term loyalty and loyalty were specific principles of past generations (baby boomers and generation X), young people no longer seem to regard the company as sacred and may even leave it unscrupulous soon after their hiring.

One in two young French people therefore refuses to commit to a long-term business, favoring the more flexible and flexible status of temporary worker or “freelance”. Furthermore, if the phenomenon of “slashing”, which designates the fact of combining several professional activities, affects all generations, it particularly affects young people under 30 (39% against 19% of over 60s), perfectly controlling digital and living in a culture of instantaneity.

How, then, to rethink the question of the loyalty of the younger generations to the company? To answer this question, we have conducted a case study, which will be published in Human resource management reviewwith a major French sporting goods retailer renowned for its appeal among young people.

“They don’t want 9: 00-18: 00”

The case study highlights the emergence of a new conception of loyalty among young people, which is based on emotional, social, collaborative, entrepreneurial and ethical dimensions.

First, the size emotional it shines through in the search for balance and meaning between work and private life, much more than in the search for financial security. A manager attests it:

“Young people want balance, they don’t want a 9:00 to 18:00 appointment. They want their balance in such a way that they feel as good as they can; there are some who work better in the evening, others better in the morning ”.

The dimension social Loyalty is based on the need to integrate into the group and pride in belonging to the organization, as a young employee attests:

“Above all, you have to be available for your team and not just for your employer. Loyalty, I see it above all in the team.

The social dimension of loyalty extends to the dimension collaborative, in the sense that young people expect their company to entrust them with diversified projects in which to take responsibility together, as a team. A manager clarifies:

“The advantage of young people is that they dare to take initiatives together, to discuss, to say what is wrong, to be much more in the relationship, to be less afraid”.

The dimension enterprising it is based on the possibility not only of choosing one’s own path within the company, but also of being able to be an actor, participating in the organizational “vision”. A young employee therefore appreciates the opportunities offered by his employer:

“There is this notion of career path where you are not stuck in a profession. Furthermore, young people are actors and can express their point of view; their initiatives are at the service of the company’s vision “.

Finally, the size ethics of loyalty appeared even more clearly during the health crisis, which highlighted a very significant need for meaning and social usefulness of young people through missions in which they can commit themselves to the defense of environmental and / or social causes.

New loyalty policies

Faced with these multiple sources of loyalty observed among Generation Z, companies are now working on four main levers in their youth retention policy: 1) well-being, 2) authenticity and affectivity, 3) creation and engagement as well as 4) ultra – connection and sharing.

The first lever, resting on the Welfareit can be achieved by taking better account of the preferences of young people in terms of working time, by developing flexible schedule for example, offering employees the flexibility of working hours of their choice. American companies like Microsoft or Google switched to the 4-day week in 2021.

The second lever aims to seekauthenticity and affectivity. This lever is based, for example, on the development of corporate social responsibility, and provides for an evolution of the role of the manager, called to replace the supervisory and control roles with those of support and coaching, aimed at supporting and helping young people. people “grow” in the company. The mobilization of AgroParisTech students who ask to desert agro-industry in full degree signals a signal: many young people refuse to work in companies that have not implemented a policy to address environmental and social challenges.

The third lever, or the creation and commitmentcalls for encouraging a sense of creation and employee engagement, through methods that require co-creation and empowerment (Strengthening) employees, as evidenced by the development of entrepreneurship within the organization itself. Following the well-known example of Google, which very soon authorized its employees to dedicate one day a week to a project other than that of their mission, the Société Générale bank invited its employees to invent “the bank of tomorrow”.

Finally, the fourth lever, which encourages theultra connection and sharing, is based on an adaptation of both digital and physical workspace. Some practices, such as the layout of the workspace, or even “gamification”, are considered to be devices that make it possible to strengthen the loyalty of young hires, while being part of their use of digital technologies. For example, the Welcome to the Jungle company created a virtual currency, the “monkey”, to promote employee work. The principle is simple: every day each member of the company receives 10 monkeys which she must use to reward her collaborators.

All these loyalty practices are destined to spread, at the risk of breaking away from Generation Z, which would be all the more problematic as it is a driving force in the renewal of skills and in the digital transformation of companies.


By Elodie Gentina, associate professor, marketing, IÉSEG School of Management; Aurélie Leclercq-VandelannoitteResearcher, CNRS, LEM (Lille Economie Management), IÉSEG School of Management e Veronique PauwelsAssociate Professor, IÉSEG School of Management.

The original version of this article was published in The Conversation.