What makes “Generation Z” tick? Audi examines the goals and desires of its youngest employees

For the survey, Audi polled almost 5,000 members of “Generation Z” (born in 1995 or later) and “Generation Y” (born between 1980 and 1994). The company primarily targeted its own employees, apprentices and trainees, and bachelor’s and master’s students writing their final‑year thesis, as well as students and interns on courses of dual study and training. External students were also polled. The company can use the results to analyze the needs of the various generations of employees. “There have so far been many assumptions about the expectations of ‘Generation Z’ with regard to their working lives, but very few scientific surveys,” stated Thomas Sigi, Board of Management Member for Human Resources at AUDI AG. “The results of our survey supply us with new and in many cases surprising impulses for the further development of our modern world of work.”

For example, no confirmation was found for the theory that the youngest generation of employees is no longer willing to remain with a single employer: 48 percent of the “Generation Z” persons polled would be happy to spend their entire working life with one employer, irrespective of the kind of work involved. This generation therefore actually seems to be more loyal than “Generation Y” with 37 percent. Just 7 percent of those polled from “Generation Z” could not imagine spending their whole career with one employer. With “Generation Y,” that is 8 percent.

On the subject of work‑life balance, there are only minimal differences between “Generation Y” and “Generation Z”. Both generations generally prefer a separation between working life and private life, but believe that the two should adapt to each other flexibly, depending on their life situation (GenY: 65 percent; GenZ: 64 percent). A strict separation is desired by 24 percent of “Generation Z” and 16 percent of “Generation Y.” There are only small differences between the generations also on the question of career goals: About a third of each generation would like to have a career in management; 40 percent want their career to develop in relation to their respective life situation.

For the selection of the employer, general development and career possibilities are the most important criterion for “Generation Z”. Possibilities for further training and job security are the second and third most important. These are followed by pay commensurate with performance and interesting work, while compatibility of career and private life is in sixth place. The latter is in first place for “Generation Y”, followed by pay commensurate with performance and interesting work. The Audi experts believe that these results are affected by the age factor: “Whereas ‘Generation Z’ people are just starting their careers, those of ‘Generation Y’ are also thinking about starting a family,” stated Gunnar Klein, Head of Employee Surveys at AUDI AG. “We have to take this age and socialization effect into consideration when analyzing the results of our surveys.”

The surveys are currently being evaluated at Audi. The poll results will flow into the new Audi human‑resources strategy and will thus have an impact in many areas: from human‑resources marketing to training and further training as well as international human‑resources management. In many cases, the results confirm the course taken by Audi. Since last year, for example, employees have had the option of mobile work when it is compatible with their tasks. And in addition to the traditional management career, Audi offers career development as a specialist. This means that first‑class specialists can reach management positions also without taking on leadership responsibility. And the company is attractive also in terms of job security, with its employment guarantee until 2020 and the guarantee to take on successful apprentices and trainees into permanent employment.