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War for talent: Can we stop blaming Gen Z?

By Eve Vlemincx.

There is a significant buzz on social media regarding the war for talent and employee engagement, with many blaming Gen Z for these ongoing challenges.

However, it is essential to recognize that this issue is not limited to a particular generation. Blaming entire generations for our problems is counterproductive, misguiding and simply wrong. Doing so is based on generational stereotypes rather than facts.

According to research by Gallup, only 15% of employees worldwide are engaged in their jobs, with 67% either not engaged or actively disengaged. This is not a problem caused by one - or even two - generations…

The reality is that we are facing human and systemic issues that requires a deeper understanding of the underlying economic, societal and technological factors that have contributed to the current state of the job market. Rather than blaming Gen Z for the ‘war for talent’, it's crucial to recognize that they are simply entering a job market that is facing a multitude of complex challenges.

Addressing the underlying economic, societal, and technological factors, such as creating more equitable and flexible workplaces, investing in training and education programs, and fostering intergenerational collaboration, can help us navigate the changing employment landscape. Working together is the key to creating a brighter and more sustainable future for all generations.

One of the root causes of disengagement is the lack of meaningful work and purpose in people's jobs. People want to feel that they are contributing to something bigger than themselves and making a positive impact on the world. They want to work for companies that align with their values and beliefs. They want to be valued, respected and appreciated for their contributions.

Another factor is the need for flexibility and work-life balance. People want to have control over their schedules and the ability to work from home or from anywhere in the world. They want autonomy and be trusted to manage their own time and deliver results, rather than being micromanaged or forced to adhere to rigid schedules.

In addition to these factors, there are also economic and technological factors that are contributing to the current state of the job market. The rise of automation and artificial intelligence is changing the nature of work.

The role of management and culture.

So, what can companies do to address these complex challenges and create a work environment that attracts and retains top talent? It starts with recognizing that the responsibility for creating a positive workplace culture falls on the shoulders of the management team, not just HR.

When I talk with executives most of them will confirm that getting the right people on board is crucial. However when asked how much time they spend on getting the right people on board , with a blank stare they will say something to the extend “that’s HR’s job”. I beg to differ. The role of a leader is getting the right people on board and keeping them engaged.

For a company to be succesful it needs amazing people and people will only be amazing in an organisation that prioritizes its people. It’s a circle.

The key to keep people engaged is to build that culture where the best people want to work and spend their careers. Where they can flourish. We cannot settle for anything less. If not they will find another company that will.

Managers must prioritize people and recognize that the success of their companies is directly tied to the well-being and engagement of their employees. They must be willing to invest in their people through training and development programs that promote innovation and digital skills. They must also foster collaboration across generations to help navigate the changing employment landscape.

One example of a company that is doing this successfully is Patagonia, a sustainable outdoor clothing and gear company. Patagonia has a strong culture of environmentalism and social responsibility, and their employees are passionate about their work and the company's mission. The company also offers flexible work arrangements and encourages its employees to pursue their passions outside of work, such as volunteering or pursuing creative projects.

Another example is Airbnb, a global online marketplace for lodging and experiences. Airbnb has a strong culture of trust and empowerment, giving its employees the freedom to work from anywhere and make decisions independently. They also prioritize diversity and inclusion, recognizing that a diverse workforce and inclusive leadership is essential to creating innovative solutions and meeting the needs of their diverse customer base.


Instead of blaming different generations, it's time to take responsibility and create a better workplace for everyone to succeed. The key to winning the war for talent is to establish a work environment that provides meaningful work, opportunities for growth and development and a sense of purpose. By doing so, companies can attract and retain the best people, regardless of their age or generation.


About the Author Eve Vlemincx is an advisor on a broad range of topics regarding legal digital transformation – innovation – leadership. In addition she is an advisor for Harvard Business Review, Executive Course Facilitator at Stanford Graduate School of Business and 5 times Stanford GSB LEAD-Award winner.

#EveVlemincx #talent #networking #relationships #trust #respect #mutualinterest

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