Millennials, Gen Z and the Labour Shortage: Flexibility Is Key

February 8, 2022

Labour shortages are currently affecting all Western countries and are crippling many sectors of our economy. They are casting a shadow over many organizations’ growth prospects. Behind these shortages lies a generational phenomenon wherein more and more baby boomers (born from 1945-1964) are leaving the workforce for retirement. The limited number of young workers are not filling these vacant positions. The different scenarios from Statistics Canada indicate that this shortage will not disappear. Organizations will have to juggle this shortage and, of course, use their imagination to attract and retain young workers.

For young workers, this situation certainly has its advantages. The balance of power between employee and employer tends to favour employees, to their advantage. With this in mind, the second section of the Youth Study looks at the benefits, incentives and relationships between young workers and the labour market. The Youth Study analyzes their preferences and shows companies which factors determine their happiness at work.

Independence for Zs and Millennials

Young workers are aware of the economic context and their value to organizations, especially in the context of the labour shortage. 66% believe that they would find a new job easily if they left their job now.

In addition, 64% believe that their employer depends on them more than the other way around. It’s hardly surprising that 25% of workers under 40 say they plan to leave their jobs in the next year. The dependency has reversed, and younger workers want to take advantage of it.

How Do You Attract and Retain Young Workers?

In this context, organizations have no choice but to listen. The Youth Study looked at the benefits and incentives Zs and millennials are looking for in the workplace. Not surprisingly, salary and job security are the two most sought-after benefits for younger generations. Regardless of their age, these two factors are crucial to happiness at work.

What are the four most enticing benefits companies can offer their employees?

More than other generations, young people want flexibility, and organizations must consider this.

1. Schedule Flexibility

The ability to work flexible hours is paramount for younger generations. When asked about the most attractive incentives, the possibility of a completely flexible schedule stands out. Furthermore, 79% of respondents said that if they could choose their own schedule, they would choose something other than a fixed 9-to-5. Among them, 24% would choose to work a set number of hours per week without a fixed schedule, and 21% would like to have only tasks and objectives to accomplish without a specific number of hours.

These proportions are striking. While organizations may not always be able to accommodate these wishes, they should still recognize that flexible scheduling is a factor in attracting potential employees given the labour shortage.

2. Flexibility in Geographic Location

27% of young workers say that working where they want – in other words, the ability to telecommute – is an incentive they seek. As a direct result of the pandemic, Zs and millennials feel that being able to work where they want will save them time and improve their quality of life. As many as 24% of full-time young workers say they would quit their jobs if they had to return to the office five days a week. In the context of labour shortages, it seems obvious that organizations cannot turn their backs on such a large proportion of young workers who want geographic freedom to work.

3. Flexibility in Organizational Structures

Finally, organizational structures must also embody flexibility. This is a lesser part of the organizational discussions to attract young workers, but it is still essential in their eyes. Vertical and immovable structures are very likely to discourage young workers. The most cited dissatisfaction with their current job among full-time workers is that their organization’s hierarchies are too top-heavy and not nimble enough (43%). This proportion rises to 60% among those who say they don’t like their job! In addition, 52% of workers would like to take on new challenges/new responsibilities yearly: not necessarily a promotion, but new responsibilities that would allow them to move horizontally, rather than vertically, within an organization. Whether it’s a change in tasks or more responsibilities, young workers constantly need novelty within their organization. This point about structural flexibility is probably the most underestimated by organizations and is essential to attract and satisfy these young workers in the context of the labour shortage.


This is the 4th edition of the Youth Study, created by Leger. The Youth Study surveys two generations: millennials, aged 26 to 40, and Generation Z, aged 13 to 25. It enables us to analyze the behaviours and values of young people at the beginning of the year 2022. This edition attempts to answer the question: What does it mean to be a young person in 2022? To answer this, we have analyzed what it means to be a young citizen, worker and consumer in 2022.


Millennials and Gen Z Fear the Future

Consumer Behaviour: Millennials and Gen Z Are Demanding and Efficient


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