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One World under Gen Z: EU and US Young Adults Share Beliefs and Practices

Updated: Feb 19, 2020

I spoke on a panel this week for the European American Chamber of Commerce about hiring practices in the United States. The audience comprised the Consul Generals from a variety of European Consulates and the panelists included two attorneys from Ogletree Deakins talking about legal issues around visas and hiring U.S. citizens for Consulates, plus me talking about the psycho-social differences between Millennials and Gen Z in Europe and in the U.S.

It was an interesting and informative session. I found the discussion between the Ogletree attorneys and the European diplomats fascinating, and I think it is fair to say that everyone learned a lot from what I had to say about the different attitudes that American Millennials and Gen Z workers are bringing into the workplace. The changes these two generations bring are pervasive, even in a field as traditional as a career diplomat.

During my talk, I compared European and American Gen Zers (born 1997-2010), who are relatively new in the workforce. Interestingly, there are a lot of similarities. My hypothesis is that technology allows ideas to spread across boarders more easily and quickly than ever before and this has led to some homogeneity between young adults on both continents.

Following are some of my findings, with thanks to my research assistant Jordan Massey (who will herself be a great attorney someday).

Gen Zers in the EU and America have many of the same interests and concerns:

- They are issues oriented and the issues that concern them are diversity, equality, non-discrimination.

- Like their American counterparts, Gen Zers in Netherlands value job satisfaction; in Luxembourg it is professional development; in Germany they want work-life balance. As part of that, flexible working hours are important in Germany, Austria, and The Netherlands.

- Like the United States, Gen Z is a very large generation in Europe. In the EU and BRIC, they make up 40% of the population and 10% of the world population; in US, they are the largest generation at 27% and 88.8 million of them.

- As a large generation on both continents, they have an oversized influence on household buying decisions.

- This means marketers need to find Gen Z where they’re at, which is on social media. Influencers are a big source of recommendations.

Following is a deeper dive country-by-country:

- In Austria it is important for companies to be genuine (they quickly see through “fake”).

- In the MENA countries, there is a shift with Gen Zers toward being more open minded and testing traditional boundaries.

If companies want to reach these young adults, online news sites and social media are a major source of information in Brussels, Hungary, Norway, and Sweden.

Like the U.S., entrepreneurship is valued in Poland and Romania. In Estonia, they have a more fluid view of career. Gen Zers expect to follow a traditional business path today but move onto a passion project to save the planet in a few years.

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