Generation Z in the world of work:  A new era of cooperation in recent years, the world of work has changed dramatically. A new generation of workers is entering the stage: Generation Z. These young people, born between the mid-1990s and the mid-2010s, bring fresh air and new perspectives to companies worldwide. In this article, we will have a closer look at Generation Z in the world of work and find out how companies can benefit from their unique characteristics.

Who is Generation Z?

Generation Z has grown up in a world of technology and the internet. People of this generation are experts in using smartphones, social media, and digital tools. Generation Y (also known as Millennials) are pragmatic and goal-oriented, unlike their predecessor generations. They have a high affinity for social and environmental issues and strive for meaningfulness in their work.

One of the outstanding characteristics of Generation Z is their preference for flexible working models. They value the ability to work from anywhere and prefer home office options. This has increased remote workplaces in recent years and pushed companies to adapt their work structures.

Generation Z places great value on diversity and inclusion in the workplace. They expect companies to promote a diverse workforce and actively combat discrimination. Companies not sharing these values may have difficulty attracting and retaining young talent.

Thanks to their technological affinity, Generation Z members can often adapt quickly to new tools and software. This makes them valuable resources for companies wanting to advance in the digital transformation.

Generation Z is looking for meaningful work that reflects their values. Companies that take social and environmental responsibilities seriously have a clear advantage in attracting and retaining this young talent.

Integrating representatives of Generation Z into the world of work

Although Generation Z’s preferences and values offer many benefits for the workplace, they can also present company challenges. Here are some areas where tensions can arise:

  1. While Generation Z prefers flexible working models, companies often need a certain structure to work efficiently. The balance between flexibility and organisational discipline can be difficult.
  2. Generation Z is technologically savvy and likes to use digital tools. However, companies need to protect sensitive data and information, which can sometimes conflict with Generation Z’s openness to technology.
  3. While Generation Z is looking for meaningful work, companies must keep their business goals and profitability in mind. Finding the balance between employees’ values and company goals requires careful alignment.
  4. Although Generation Z promotes diversity and inclusion, it can be difficult to establish such a culture in companies that previously had more traditional values. This often requires extensive cultural changes.
  5. Generation Z prefers open communication and regular feedback. Traditional corporate hierarchies can make such practices difficult.

What is an appealing organisational structure or organisational culture for Generation Z?

I invite you to take a look with me at the stages of organisational development, according to Frederic Laloux. In his book “Reinventing Organizations” he describes how organisations develop and defines some interesting differences:

  • Red organisations:

An authoritarian hierarchy and power structures prevail here. Decisions are made from the top down.

  • Orange organisations:

Orange organisations are characterised by performance orientation, competition and individual responsibility. They are often found in large companies and pursue profit goals.

  • Green organisations:

Green organisations value teamwork, empathy and consensus. Hierarchies are flatter, and decision-making is participatory.

  • Teal organisations:

Teal organisations are self-organised and based on trust, purpose-driven work and individual self-fulfilment. Hierarchies are almost non-existent, and decision-making is based on consensus and self-regulation.

For Generation Z, Teal organisations are often particularly attractive. This is due to several factors:


Generation Z values the opportunity to shape their work and take responsibility. In Teal organisations, employees have the freedom to organise their tasks independently.

  • Sense-making:

Generation Z is looking for meaningful work that reflects their values. Teal organisations emphasise the purpose and meaningfulness of their work, which is a good fit for Generation Z.

  • Collaboration and co-determination:

Teal organisations emphasise collaboration and participatory decision-making. This aligns with Generation Z’s desire for open communication and co-creation.

  • Flexibility and technology:

Teal organisations are often technology-driven and flexible in their working models. The generation is familiar with digital tools and prefers flexible working options.

Overall, Teal organisations, based on self-organisation and purpose orientation principles, are particularly attractive to Generation Z. This form of organisation offers employees the opportunity to work in an environment that matches their values and preferences and allows them to contribute positively to the world.

Some examples of Teal organisations:

Several well-known organisations have adopted Teal principles to varying degrees:

1. Buurtzorg (Engl. “neighbourhood care”): A Dutch ambulatory care company known for its self-organised teams of nurses providing patient-centred care.

2. Patagonia: An outdoor clothing company that prioritises environmental protection and the well-being of its employees.

3. Morning Star: A tomato processing company that does without traditional managers and relies on self-management principles.

4. Favi: A French manufacturing company that practices self-management and strongly focuses on the well-being of its employees.

Challenges and constraints:

Although Teal organisations offer many advantages, they may not suit all industries or situations. Some of the challenges and limitations are:

  • Complexity:

Implementing Teal principles can be complex and requires significant cultural change. Not all organisations are prepared for this level of change.

  • Resistance to change:

Staff and managers used to traditional hierarchical structures may resist the transition to self-management and require extensive training and support.

  • Scalability:

Teal principles might be more difficult to implement in large, complex organisations.

  • Regulated industries:

Organisations in highly regulated industries may face legal and compliance challenges in adopting Teal principles.

In summary, Teal organisations represent a paradigm shift in how companies are structured and managed. They prioritise self-management, purpose orientation and employee well-being and aim to create more adaptive and human-centred workplaces.

Despite the challenges, Teal organisations have shown that this innovative approach can improve creativity, employee engagement and overall higher organisational effectiveness.

Conclusion: Generation Z in the world of work – adaptation without bending

Integrating Generation Z into your organisation is an opportunity that you, as a leader, should consider carefully. The question is: Does your organisation have to “bend” to attract and retain Generation Z representatives? The answer is to take a differentiated look at the preferences of Generation Z and your organisation’s orientation.

Generation Z brings valuable qualities such as technology skills, flexibility and a strong sense of purpose to the workplace. Companies that already focus on open communication, flexibility and diversity will likely find attracting and integrating Generation Z easier.

It is essential to realise that adapting to the expectations of Generation Z does not necessarily mean bending organisational values. Instead, it can be seen as an opportunity to rethink and evolve your organisation’s culture and work.

However, there are limitations that need to be considered depending on your organisation’s purpose and stage of development. Adaptations may be more difficult if your organisation operates in a highly regulated environment or has a strong hierarchical structure. Here, a balance is needed between the needs of Generation Z and business requirements.

Overall, adapting to the preferences of Generation Z is a strategic decision that needs to be carefully considered. It requires a willingness to rethink and adjust your organisation’s culture and structure to attract and retain young talent long-term.

Successful integration of Generation Z can lead to innovation, diversity and a valuable contribution to your organisation’s future. It is about finding the balance that best fits your goals and values.

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