HomeThe GenZ LabBalancing dreams with realism: the Nordic Gen Z compromise

Balancing dreams with realism: the Nordic Gen Z compromise

  • Thursday, June 13, 2024
  • JobTeaser

Explore how Nordic Gen Z balances dreams with realism, valuing "Lagom," "Hygge," and "Lykke" in shaping their career and life choices.

Explore the defining trends and primary concerns of Nordic Gen Z in our comprehensive series. Discover what drives, challenges, and shapes the youth across Scandinavia and beyond. Stay tuned for in-depth insights and fresh perspectives. 

Understanding Nordic Gen Z

Welcome to the second installment of our three-part series where we delve into the world of Nordic Generation Z. In this second article, we explore how this demographic balances their dreams with realism—a distinctive approach that reflects both their innovative spirit and pragmatic outlook. This "Nordic Gen Z compromise" embodies their ability to intertwine lofty aspirations with the ground realities they face in today’s economic and social climate.

Understanding the Nordic Gen Z is crucial, not just for educators and employers in the Nordics, but for anyone interested in the future landscape of work and education. This generation is entering adulthood during a time of significant technological advancement and societal change, influencing their expectations and strategies for their careers and lives. 

Insight into this generation's perspective is vital for developing effective educational programs, workplace policies, and engagement strategies that align with their values and sklls. Through this series, we seek to provide valuable insights that can help institutions and businesses in the Nordics adapt to the needs of the rising workforce.

Balancing dreams with realism 

More and more, Gen Z is showing a realistic approach to their careers and life choices. Unlike earlier generations who might have prioritized passion or the pursuit of dream jobs without considering practical implications (remember David Bowie’s Rebel Rebel), Generation Z is markedly focused on stability, security, and concrete outcomes.

For example, they will put their money first; a significant 52% of Gen Z in Europe, including those in the Nordics, rank salary as their top concern when evaluating job opportunities.

This practical outlook is shaped by their experiences of economic instability, challenging job markets, and the uncertain legacies of previous economic downturns. As a result, they value the tangible benefits of career choices—such as job security and financial stability—above idealistic goals.

Generation Z's pursuit of their aspirations is tempered by an awareness of the practical limitations imposed by the current socio-economic climate. While they still aspire to achieve their personal and professional goals, they do so with a clear-eyed view of what is realistically attainable. This blend of idealism and realism sets them apart from previous generations, who may have pursued dreams with less consideration for practical outcomes.

Also read 7 Defining Characteristics of Generation Z as opposed to other generations

Does this adjust our understanding of Generation Z? Are they not the idealistic change-makers we thought they were? The answer is complex. For Gen Z, dreaming big is still on the agenda, but not at the expense of securing a stable and predictable future. They understand that achieving their dreams may require compromises, such as accepting a job with a higher salary over one that aligns perfectly with their passions but offers less financial stability. This practical adjustment does not mean giving up on their dreams but rather redefining the paths to achieve them in ways that are sustainable and secure.

The Nordic Gen Z compromise 

In the Nordics, this attitude profoundly influences Gen Z’s educational choices, career planning, and lifestyle decisions. From the concepts of Lagom, Lykke and Hygge we zoom in on these subjects. 

Embracing "Lagom" in Educational and Career Choices

In the Nordics, 77% of Gen Z consider their employment as crucial. 

"Lagom," a Swedish term signifying balance and moderation, mirrors the career decisions of Generation Z in the Nordics. This demographic carefully selects educational fields and professional paths that ensure stability rather than chasing overly ambitious or risky dreams. By prioritizing sectors like technology, healthcare, and engineering, they align with "lagom" by choosing careers that are not only in demand but also offer clear and reliable growth prospects

This balanced approach ensures that their careers provide not just immediate job security (88% of Nordic Gen Z) but are sustainable long-term, resonating with the Nordic ethos of equilibrium and practicality in life choices. 

Their focus on established industries and companies known for strong employee benefits further exemplifies this principle, as they seek environments that support a steady, well-rounded life.

Despite their concerns about the broader economy, our career study reveals that more than 80% of Gen Z in Europe remain optimistic about their future career paths. 

The same is true for the influence they believe they can have on their career. Because a career path can be more easily shaped they will focus more heavily on their personal career path that needs to be secured and less on collective solutions for which they will put responsibility with business leadership. 

This however does not mean they do not want to see the workplace changed. They do! And they will express themselves clearly about this to senior leadership. As a response they ask for clear leadership that allows them to express themselves and that has an eye for the changes they propose. 

Read more on The Changing Landscape of Work Purpose Among Gen Z: From "How?" to "Why?"

Cultivating "Hygge" in personal and professional Life

While "hygge" typically refers to comfort and coziness in one's living environment, it can also apply to the workplace and lifestyle choices of Nordic Gen Z. This generation emphasizes creating a work-life environment that promotes contentment and well-being

By choosing careers that offer strong employee benefits, robust job security, and the potential for a balanced life, they are essentially infusing "hygge" into their professional lives. Their conservative financial planning and preference for stable, long-term investments reflect a desire to create a secure and cozy future, both materially and emotionally. 

In the workplace, even as they demand changes from senior leadership to improve conditions, their goal is to foster an atmosphere where comfort and assurance are paramount, ensuring that their work environment aligns with their values of safety and satisfaction, critical components of the "hygge" lifestyle.

Read our article on Inside the minds of gen Z : top trends and concerns 

Pursuing "Lykke" for overall happiness

Expanding on the concepts of "Lagom" and "Hygge," the Danish idea of "Lykke," which translates to happiness, is fundamentally about understanding and pursuing what makes life truly fulfilling. For Nordic Gen Z, "Lykke" is about finding joy not only in their careers but in life as a whole. Generation Z is acutely aware of global issues that negatively influence their happiness but remains realistic about their individual impact. They strive to effect change within their immediate sphere of influence and thus improve their personal happiness and the happiness of those around them. 

This pursuit involves advocating for workplaces that support mental health, social connections, and opportunities for personal growth. They seek employers who are not just leaders in the industry but also champions of social responsibility, environmental sustainability, and workplace equality, contributing to their overall sense of happiness and fulfillment.

Integrating personal values into career Choices

Despite their pragmatic approach, Gen Z does not shy away from infusing their work with personal values and ethics. They are keen on working for companies that not only offer financial security but also align with their moral and ethical standards. This generation is likely to research potential employers' stances on social issues, environmental policies, and corporate ethics, choosing those that reflect their values.

Their career choices are often influenced by a desire to contribute positively to society. Whether through innovative tech solutions, sustainable engineering practices, or compassionate healthcare, Gen Z professionals aim to make a difference within their chosen fields. They look for roles that allow them to impact their immediate community and beyond, reflecting a global consciousness intertwined with local action.

The Quest for fulfillment beyond the Workplace

Acknowledging the limitations of finding complete fulfillment through work alone, Gen Z places significant importance on cultivating a rich personal life. They actively seek fulfillment through relationships, hobbies, and side projects, which provide them with a sense of accomplishment and happiness that their jobs might not fully offer. This holistic approach to life satisfaction ensures that even if their careers do not meet all their emotional and intellectual needs, their overall quality of life remains high.

Nordic youth prioritize their family (87%) and hobbies (86%) significantly, indicating a strong inclination towards a balanced lifestyle.

This approach also leads them to prioritize work-life balance more than previous generations. They advocate for flexible working conditions, sufficient vacation time, and policies that allow them to thrive both in and outside of work. By setting these standards, they not only enhance their own lives but also influence broader changes in workplace culture, pushing for environments that honor both professional productivity and personal well-being.

The Numbers Speak: valuing time and well-being
  • Rest and holidays: 71% of Nordic Gen Z place a high value on rest, and 80% prioritize holidays, highlighting the importance they place on well-being and time spent away from work.
  • Support for a shorter workweek: With 82% Nordic Gen Z supporting a 4-day workweek, there is a robust advocacy for more adaptable work conditions. They believe that a shorter workweek can be achieved without extending daily working hours.
  • Time allocation: If a shorter workweek were implemented, 67% of Gen Z in the Nordics indicate they would use the extra time primarily to spend with family (over 60%) and pursue hobbies (over 50%). .

The data from our study on work in the Nordics reinforces the notion that Nordic Gen Z is not just redefining work standards but is actively shaping a future where work and personal life are not just balanced but are mutually enriching. Their approach goes beyond seeking leisure; it is about crafting a life where personal satisfaction and professional success are intertwined, leading to a more fulfilled and sustainable lifestyle.

Looking ahead

As we conclude our exploration of how Nordic Gen Z balances dreams with realism, we have gained deeper insights into their values and the cultural influences that shape their decisions in life and work. 

In the next and final installment of our series, we will offer practical tips for recruiting Gen Z in the Nordics. Drawing from our discussions on what’s on the mind of Nordic Gen Z and the concepts of  "Lagom," "Hygge," and "Lykke," this forthcoming article will provide actionable strategies that employers can use to attract, engage, and retain this dynamic and forward-thinking generation.

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