Beyond the salary game

Holding on to Gen Z talent is no easy feat. Those fresh minds with a unique sense of style and a deep desire for a healthy work-life balance. Bringing them on board is a triumph, but ensuring they stick around is what really matters. 

Young talent is overwhelmed by many job opportunities, including yours. Securing a steady pipeline is crucial, but maintaining it is where the real challenge lies. Investing in young talent promises long-term benefits, but what is the point if they are out the door in eight months chasing a larger paycheck? That’s not just a hit on your time and budget; it’s a setback. 

Once you’ve built that talent pipeline, the goal is to keep it that way and nurture these young potentials into future leaders. Keep them motivated along their internal career journey and make sure to set your basics right. 

Is salary a dealbreaker?

 Consider this: 52% of Gen Z sees salary as the most important driver for choosing a job. Moreover, 56% would leave their current job for a better salary elsewhere. So what happens when exit meetings reveal people are leaving for the money? Are they purely chasing money, or is there more to the story? 

Here’s the reality: Gen Z isn’t driven by greed; they have genuine financial needs. As the most financially independent generation, they require a larger paycheck to meet the demands of living independently – from renting an apartment to taking a holiday to unwind. The cost of living has risen, and a good work-life balance often comes with its own expenses. Those hiking trips and Matcha Lattes won’t pay for themselves. You could argue that the latter is a choice. We believe it’s a new basic expectation from this generation.  

Avoid your best talent from leaving too soon for money.

Being wealthy can be about money. And it can also be a story of personal growth, experiences and a place to belong. Invest in these three areas and turn your recent hires into your long-term future leaders. 

Prioritize personal growth over financial gain.

  • Invest in mentorship, coaching, and training days to make Gen Z feel richer in terms of personal development. Let them feel that they are not done learning yet and that if they leave they’re missing out on big learning opportunities.  
  • For example: Give them a personal development budget and let them create a yearly personal development plan with it. Allow them to also use this budget for building skills that aren’t directly related to their current role, such as learning to play the piano. 

Create a sense of belonging

  • If you notice that Gen Z doesn’t like coming to the office you have work to do. A good atmosphere at work is the second main reason (34%) young talent chooses a job. They want to have fun and feel like they belong to an informal family rather than to a formal group.  
  • For example: Let Gen Z organise informal trips for the team and have them associate work with holidays. Ask young talent what would make them come to the office more often and implement this.  

Proud about projects and responsibilities

  • Gen Z wants to be proud of what they do. Clarify the purpose behind their work – whether building their career or contributing to a better world. The more they feel that their work is actually contributing to their lives, the more they will invest in work.  
  • For example: Start every meeting with the high-level vision and goals of your team and organisation. Let them make a personal impact plan based on the company strategy.

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If you’re a Gen Z talent, you likely have your own frustrations with previous generations. We feel you!


Read here how to deal with more senior colleagues that are stuck in stereotypical thinking.