HomeThe GenZ LabInside the minds of Nordic Gen Z: top trends and concerns

Inside the minds of Nordic Gen Z: top trends and concerns

  • Thursday, June 13, 2024
  • JobTeaser

Delve into the defining traits and challenges of Nordic Gen Z, examine how they influence their relationship with work and how to effectively guide their quest for meaningful careers.

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. 

1. The world of Gen Z in the Nordics

Welcome to the first installment of our three-part series where we delve into the world of Nordic Generation Z. In this opening article, we aim to provide a comprehensive overview of who Nordic Gen Z are, the unique challenges they face, and the opportunities available to them. We will explore key concepts that define this generation, from their career aspirations and educational paths to their values and societal impact. 

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 skills. 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.

About JobTeaser

As a leading provider of recruitment and career guidance for young talents in Europe, JobTeaser was established in 2008 based on the observation that the transition from student life to the professional world is often a challenging time for this younger generation. The company's mission is to assist young individuals in their career orientation. To achieve this goal, JobTeaser offers a platform for students and recent graduates to search for internships and jobs. Integrated directly into 750 schools and universities, JobTeaser enables 5 million young individuals to find their path, while also facilitating communication and talent sourcing for over 250,000 recruiters.

Build a skilled team with our recruitment and hiring solutions.

About Gen Z Lab

Launched in 2023 and guided by the expertise of JobTeaser's renowned professionals, we delve into the unique trends and the evolving relationship between Generation Z and the workplace. Our mission is to demystify the misconceptions surrounding this generation, explore their behaviors and gain a deeper understanding of their aspirations. Through comprehensive studies, insightful testimonials, thought-provoking articles, in-depth analyses, and future outlooks, we provide a wealth of resources that shed light on the individuals who will shape the future of the workforce. 

2. What's on the mind of Nordic Gen Z?

Across Europe, Generation Z faces challenges transitioning from academia to the professional realm. This is particularly evident in the Nordic countries, where like their peers in other EU nations, young people must navigate a rapidly changing environment marked by technological advancements, significant social media influence, and major societal transformations. 

These factors are pivotal in shaping their views of the corporate world and influencing their career aspirations. Understanding the drivers behind their perspectives and demands is a crucial first step. To do this, we have put together research from various sources and combined it with our own research. What is causing this shattered world image? Let’s dive in. 

2.1 Priority 1: Environmental concerns and a sustainable economic model 

Environmental sustainability is a critical concern for young people, affecting their lifestyle choices and career decisions. A significant number of young people actively seek information on potential employers' environmental policies before applying. Global warming is at the top of their minds. 

Reflecting on environmental and social issues, 62% of Nordic Gen Z  believe in reducing work hours to lessen environmental impact, showcasing their strong environmental consciousness. 

In recent years, the topic of environmental concerns has grown into a desire for more sustainable practices in the workplace. A considerable portion of Gen Z feels that the current economic model should be improved. 

They express the need for fundamental changes and advocate for a complete reimagination of the economic model. These sentiments underscore their inclination towards social responsibility, sustainability, and their yearning for a fairer and more inclusive economic system.

Workplace Expectations

There's a notable expectation for Nordic businesses to engage more  in societal and environmental issues.

Only ⅕  of Nordic Gen Z are satisfied with their organizations societal impact 

Their trust or belief that anything will change has also significantly eroded. There's a notable shift in the outlook on society's direction, with an increasing number of young people perceiving societal development as heading in the wrong direction, primarily due to political dissatisfaction and economic concerns.They put responsibility for change with politicians, policy makers and business leaders. 

Young people expect their workplaces to advance not just corporate but also societal goals. Furthermore, more than half expect to be involved and be given the opportunity to actively contribute as expressed in our study on Gen Z’s relationship to work. The effectiveness of a company's corporate social responsibility (CSR) program will significantly enhance their job satisfaction and influence Generation Z's decision to join the company. 

Workplace employer branding 

Also driven by a strong commitment to social justice, Nordic Generation Z is markedly more supportive of free speech within organizations compared to previous generations. They deeply value equality, upholding the belief that everyone deserves equal treatment, making diversity, equity, and inclusion more critical than ever before. They expect to be heard and demand to be heard. More than in other countries, Nordic Gen Z will consider not applying for a company that has a bad reputation and that is not in line with their personal beliefs. 

Analyzing current trends, it becomes evident that an appealing employer brand for Nordic Generation Z should be founded on these values. Companies are encouraged to actively promote diversity, equity, and inclusiveness in their branding efforts to attract this forward-thinking cohort of the workforce. 

Read more on How to enhance Gen Z happiness and well-being by embracing nature in the workplace

Read more on 5 social causes for Gen Z in 2024

2.2 Priority 2: Mental and Financial stress

Nordic Gen Z faces significant mental and financial stress. Many live paycheck to paycheck, with half reporting that economic difficulties might hinder their ability to secure pay raises or new jobs and 89% reporting that money is their primary concern when applying for a job 

Despite recent improvements in the economy, financial worries remain a significant concern for Gen Z. This anxiety stems not only from current economic conditions but also from their aspirations for a high-quality life, which tends to require more financial resources. They feel the pressure to maintain a certain standard of living, making financial stability a key priority.

Mental distress is at unprecedented levels, particularly among Generation Z. Nearly half of this demographic reports feeling anxious or stressed consistently while at work, mainly due to concerns about their own mental health—a contrast to previous generations, who cited family and domestic responsibilities as major stressors. 

Individuals aged 18 to 25 have matured in an era marked by rapid changes in politics, society, and technology. They have experienced firsthand terrorist attacks, social movements like the #MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements, natural disasters, and significant geopolitical conflicts such as the war in Ukraine. Their deep engagement with digital platforms not only keeps them updated on these global events in real-time but also empowers them to participate actively in shaping public discourse. 

This connectivity provides them with a distinct, real-time perspective, making them informed and influential participants in global conversations. However, this constant exposure also comes with downsides; there is no filter on the flow of information, requiring them to process all data as it comes, often without the ability to pause and reflect.

The digital-centric lifestyle of Gen Z has also impacted how they socialize and spend their free time. With so much of their interaction happening through screens, they find themselves spending less time outdoors and having fewer in-person social interactions. This reduction in physical activity and face-to-face communication has made them value their relationships with family and friends even more. In a world dominated by digital communication, the human connection they get from their close personal relationships is crucial for their emotional and mental well-being. It offers them a sense of comfort and stability, providing a necessary balance to the often impersonal nature of online interactions. 

Workplace Expectations

Nordic Gen Z workers appreciate their employers' efforts to reduce workplace stress and enhance mental health. Nonetheless, there has been a notable 10% increase from 2022 to 2023 in young people feeling burned out due to high workloads and demands.

  • A significant 77% of Nordic Gen Z believe that working overtime increases their chances of promotion, compared to 75% across the EU. 
  • Additionally, 87% think that more time spent at the workplace may lead to better promotion opportunities.

Despite these numbers, nearly a quarter of Nordic Gen Z workers experience guilt over taking time off, a sentiment slightly more prevalent than among millennials, Gen Xers, and boomers. This guilt often leads them not to utilize all their paid leave. Furthermore, when Gen Zers do take vacations, they feel the most pressure to stay connected to work, such as checking emails or voicemails, more so than other generations.

Employers are encouraged to create policies that support Gen Z's need to disconnect from work and address their guilt over not working overtime. It is essential to promote a work environment where work-life balance is valued, with flexible schedules and an emphasis on mental health and personal time.

To address the desire for more human interaction at work, it’s crucial to recognize that Generation Z values face-to-face engagement and a collaborative team environment. They are not just the digital generation; 90% of Gen Z workers seek meaningful human interactions in their job roles and with coworkers. The emphasis on mutual respect, gratitude, and recognition between coworkers and leadership is vital, with 41% of Gen Z highlighting the importance of the human element in the workplace. 

Make sure you have an effective blend of technology and the human element.

Fostering a company culture where promotions are based on merit rather than mere presence or favoritism can also help address these issues, ensuring a more equitable and satisfying workplace for the next generation.

Workplace employer branding 

When crafting job offers, it's essential to clearly indicate salary expectations. This transparency helps align candidate expectations with what the company is prepared to offer and can significantly influence application rates.

Regarding workplace wellness, a substantial majority of Gen Z candidates, 73%, consider mental health support and policies crucial when evaluating potential employers. This highlights the growing importance of mental health initiatives in attracting young talent in today's job market.

2.3 Priority 3: Seeking stability

The younger generation exhibits a strong desire for stability in their work and lives, valuing job security and a steady income more than previous generations

Generation Z in the Nordics has been uniquely shaped by a series of turbulent events, from global financial crises to significant social movements, which have profoundly influenced their approach to life and work. This younger generation exhibits a strong need for stability, valuing job security (88% of Nordic Gen Z in our research considered this to be important) and steady income more than previous generations. Their experiences have led to a more cautious outlook on society, with many believing that their prospects are dimmer compared to earlier generations.

Amid these uncertainties, Nordic Gen Z is not just passively accepting their circumstances. Instead, they are actively demanding enhancements in their educational and professional spheres. They seek changes that ensure stability and foster meaningful engagement, underlining their preference for secure and substantive roles over merely high-status positions.

A survey from the World Economic Forum underscores that young people today prioritize "ethical standards, fair treatment, and work-life balance" more than "career progression" when choosing jobs, which resonates with the values seen in Nordic Gen Z (source: World Economic Forum).

Despite their pragmatic outlook, Nordic Gen Z shows a strong ambition within the workplace, with a significant majority valuing job security and permanent contracts. 

Their preference for security and stability in their professional lives is mirrored in their personal lives as well. Nordic Gen Z prioritizes having enough resources to cover essential expenses and values time spent with family, friends, and personal hobbies. They show less concern for rank and status, which aligns with the broader societal values of equality prevalent in the Nordics.

Workplace Expectations

The significant emphasis on job security and work-life balance among Nordic Gen Z highlights a transformative shift in workplace dynamics and necessitates an evolution in employer branding strategies. 

Employers aiming to attract this generation must prioritize creating environments that ensure security, offer fair compensation, facilitate open dialogue, and provide opportunities for meaningful participation. 

Here are some tailored strategies to help you align with the expectations of Nordic Gen Z:

  • Enhance Job Security: Make clear commitments to job security, perhaps through permanent contracts or clear pathways for career progression within the company.
  • Establish Fair Compensation Practices: Regular salary reviews and transparency about pay scales and increments can reassure young employees that they are being compensated fairly, which is crucial for their long-term commitment and satisfaction.
  • Encourage Open Dialogue: Create channels for open communication where employees can express their ideas, concerns, and feedback.
  • Meaningful Participation: Opportunities for Gen Z employees to engage in projects that resonate with their values, such as corporate social responsibility initiatives or innovation hubs, can increase their engagement and loyalty.

Workplace employer branding 

Harassment and microaggressions in the workplace remain a severe issue that can undermine Gen Z’s sense of stability and security. They will easily leave the company when this happens and talk about it on social media and platforms such as Glassdoor. Addressing this challenge head-on is critical for maintaining their engagement and a fair brand:

  • Zero-Tolerance Harassment Policy: Enforce strict policies against harassment and microaggressions, accompanied by clear consequences for violations. Training sessions that educate all employees about what constitutes harassment and how to report it are essential.
  • Support Systems: Establishing robust support systems, including counseling services and a responsive HR department, can provide the necessary support to employees who experience harassment.
  • Regular Training and Awareness Programs: Conducting regular training sessions to raise awareness about harassment and how to combat it can help in creating a safer, more inclusive work environment.

These strategies are essential not only for attracting Gen Z talent but also for fostering a workplace culture that is inclusive, equitable, and responsive to the needs of all employees. 

Additionally, for a deeper understanding of how work fits into the lives of Generation Z, employers and HR professionals might consider reviewing our groundbreaking study on how does work fit into the lives of Generation Z


Thank you for joining us in the first part of our series, "Who are the Nordic Gen Z?" Through this exploration, we've started to unravel the unique challenges that define this generation in the Nordic countries. From their pragmatic approach to career and life to their deep concern for social and environmental issues, it's clear that understanding Gen Z is crucial for anyone involved in shaping future policies, educational systems, and workplace environments.

In the upcoming second blog titled "Balancing dreams with realism: the Nordic Gen Z compromise," we'll dive deeper into the pragmatic mindset of Nordic Gen Z. We will explore how this mindset influences their decisions from the choice of their studies to their career paths and lifestyle. By understanding their preference for stability and security, employers and educators can better align their offerings to meet the expectations of this emerging workforce.

Stay tuned for more insightful discussions in our series, where we'll continue to provide valuable knowledge that can help institutions and businesses adapt and thrive in the changing landscape shaped by Nordic Gen Z.

For further reading on Gen Z and their impact on the workplace and beyond, explore additional resources and studies available through JobTeaser and Gen Z Lab, where we delve into these topics with expert analysis and up-to-date research.