What does young talent want?

PwC EMEA Workforce Preference Study

Thursday 26 August 2021 - For young job seekers it is not just about an attractive financial reward package, according to PwC’s Workforce Preference Survey, assessing the expectations of students and career starters (age 16-28) from all educational levels in 11 countries, including 584 from Belgium. Transparency and fairness, a good reputation and flexibility were found to be key to successfully recruiting and retaining talented employees. The study results might be a wake-up call for employers who don’t believe that non-financial factors play an important role in keeping the workforce of the future motivated.

A borderless community of like-minded young people

Today’s young people are different from previous generations as their preferences and habits are majorly influenced not by location, but by a borderless, global community supported by disruptive technologies and social media. This virtual space leads to global patterns rather than local ones. This is reflected in the study results for all 11 surveyed countries. Interesting and challenging work is perceived as most important by the respondents from Belgium, but they also prioritize flexibility and a highly socially focused work environment. ​ At the same time, our study reveals regional differences in employee preferences. The study shows that interesting and challenging work, together with work-life balance are the top priorities in Western and Southwest Europe. Corporate cultures that focus on people rank highly in West and Southwest Europe while in other regions preferences can be more financial and result oriented.

Bart Van Den Bussche, Partner at PwC Belgium: “The way people work is going through a fundamental transformation. The adoption of emerging technologies and data-driven decision making is causing a change in products, business models and human tasks. Jobs and skills are rapidly changing, and jobseekers’ preferences are shifting, especially amongst the younger generations. With an increasingly diverse workforce, it is clear that a one size fits all reward package is not the best way to successfully recruit and retain talent. Organisations need to reimagine their personnel approach to keep up with this evolution. It is therefore crucial for organisations to have reliable data about the driving forces of young talent when choosing a future employer”.

Younger employees do consider the longer term

Besides a highly people-oriented work environment, the survey also highlights the importance of an attractive financial package. Taking into account the overall ranking of relative importance of young people across the surveyed countries, we can see that they value their base pay, their pension benefits and their preventative health services and health benefits very highly. In Belgium, the respondents prefer a pension plan, followed by medical coverage, in terms of other benefits. This is contrary to the common assumption that younger employees rarely consider the longer term. Only in Austria, Belgium and Switzerland, does base pay appear in the top 3 when considering the overall ranking of relative importance.

Stability and security are top priorities for young job seekers but they are also thinking about the longer term. Since our study results show that young employees value interesting and challenging work together with work-life balance more than base pay, focussing on trying to increase base pay further is not likely to be helpful. By focusing on non-financial aspects, employers are more likely to be attractive for younger workers and more likely to meet the preferences of young people”, concludes Bart Van Den Bussche, Partner at PwC Belgium.


About PwC’s Workforce Preference Study

Our study measures all areas of employee preferences that are decisive in their choice of a workplace and may have an impact on brand perceptions. We defined these areas based on current trends, motivation theories, components of employee experience and client feedback. The survey covers 12 main focus areas: career, company culture, company reputation, everyday work, internationality, other benefits, pay and bonuses, people at work, personal and professional development, physical work environment, transparent business operations, work and life balance. Each of these focus areas are divided into 55 work-related preference factors. Our unique, interactive and customised web-based survey is powered by TrueChoice Solutions Inc. With the help of Artificial Intelligence (AI), the survey measures preferences in a smart and complex way, i.e. by measuring absolute and relative workforce preferences and by generating trade-offs. This method provides a significantly higher quality of data compared to conventional surveys.

Read the full report here.



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