The Gen Z and Millennial Survey in Switzerland  

Zooming in on Human Capital Levers to Attract and Retain the Young Workforce

What drives and motivates the youngest generations which are entering the workforce in Switzerland? How do we effectively attract and retain Gen Z and Millennial talent amidst and after the Great Resignation? The Deloitte Global 2022 Gen Z and Millennial Survey has found that both generations1 are deeply concerned about the their futures and the state of the world. Stress and burnout levels are high, with workplace mental health challenges and difficult work/life balance being among the top reasons for Swiss Gen Zs and Millennials to leave their organisations. Beyond that, the young workforce is dedicated to driving societal change and are pushing their employers to take action against the climate crisis.

So how do we address their concerns and ensure that we are ready for the workforce of the present and future? Our 11th edition Gen Z and Millennial survey solicited the views of 23’220 global Gen Zs and Millennials between November 2021 and January 2022. We took a closer look at what the 400 respondents from Switzerland had to say, selecting the key Human Capital aspects that we believe demand immediate action to attract and retain the young workforce.

Burn-out, stress, anxiety – lack of employee wellbeing is a key threat to talent retention

Closely aligned with the global average, Gen Zs in Switzerland listed the mental health of their generation as one of the top five issues of greatest concern. 44% of Gen Zs responded that they feel anxious or stressed all or most of the time with this trend increasing for both generations from the previous year. On top of that over one third of Switzerland’s Gen Zs and Millennials reported feeling burned out due to the intensity or demands of their workloads, with as many as 43% of Millennials even leaving their organisations due to the pressure of their workloads. To add to the woes, almost 40% of both generations do not feel comfortable speaking openly with their direct manager about feeling stressed or anxious, or do not feel comfortable speaking about other mental health challenges. This leads to nearly 70% of Gen Zs in Switzerland giving their employees a different reason for taking time off work, which in reality is due to stress or anxiety. This percentage has almost doubled from the year before.

Organisations clearly need to recognize the inseparable link between employees’ wellbeing and work. While many organisations have recognized the significance of wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic and have increased their focus on this important topic, nearly half of the respondents of the survey feel that it their organisation’s efforts have not resulted in any meaningful impact. Our 2021 Human Capital Trends report emphasizes the need for organisations to think deeply about ways they can design wellbeing into the work itself. An organisational culture shift centred around employee wellbeing is therefore crucial when addressing workplace mental health challenges.

Another central aspect in addressing mental health at work is enabling a good work/life balance for employees, which was stated as the top reason for both generations in the survey to choose to work for an organisation. How can this be achieved? Results indicate that there is a growing demand for hybrid work arrangements with almost 70% of both generations preferring hybrid over purely remote or in person work. Concrete initiatives to improve work/life balance that were favoured by respondents were allowing flexible working hours and experimenting with reduced working weeks.

Climate crisis – the issue of greatest concern for an entire generation

Besides mental health, Gen Zs listed the climate crisis as the number one issue of concern to their generation. They believe that the world is at a tipping point in responding to climate change and 90% of them are consistently making efforts to reduce their personal impact. Almost half of Switzerland’s Gen Zs are now pushing their employers to act in a climate responsible way, and only 9 % of Switzerland’s Millennials believe that businesses and especially large companies are taking substantive & tangible actions to combat climate change.

Gen Zs and Millennials in Switzerland feel their organisations should invest more resources to help combat climate change, specifically by providing employees incentives to make better environmental choices. Organisations are asked to recognize and reward contributions to the sustainability agenda by reinforcing the importance of climate action in every aspect of the employee journey. Roles and responsibilities should be continuously updated to include ESG (Environmental, Sustainable and Governance) metrics so that also performance can be linked to ESG. Change happens at the individual level and companies should further inspire their talent by offering volunteering time, organizing hackathons or townhalls showcasing concrete activities or initiatives that all employees can partake in. Human Resources plays an enabling role to integrate ESG performance metrics, incentives, and rewards into the workforce. In addition, it is critical to ensure that senior management and leaders in the organisation lead by example and are bought into the importance of a sustainability transformation. There is an increasing demand for organisations to incorporate sustainability into the vision and strategy of their teams and measuring the teams against sustainability-related performance objectives.

Our recently released 2022 CxO Sustainability Report shows that organisations are struggling bridge the gap between ambition and action and to truly embed climate considerations into their cultures. The report suggests that business culture can be redesigned to reflect core sustainability values and define what is needed to turn the company’s sustainability vision into a successful fit-for-purpose organisational design, including specific roles and responsibilities for leaders and employees. One example for implementation is to identify and empower a network of climate champions within an organisation - employees who are passionate about protecting the planet, who are able to advocate the importance of climate action, who have the ability to influence mindsets of their peers and suggest news ways of working. In most organisations, these climate champion networks are unsurprisingly usually made up of mostly Gen Zs and Millennials.

The Millennial and Gen Z report has also shown that both generations would like their organisations to invest more in upskilling employees on how they can make a positive impact on the environment in everyday activities. Many successful organisations have managed to raise their employees’ awareness of the impacts of climate change and how the net zero transition will benefit the global economy. As a next step, organisations can offer targeted upskilling, for example in the form of mandatory climate and sustainability trainings and regular sustainability-related updates, enabling employees to contribute to the net zero transition. Our 2022 CxO Sustainability Report strongly recommends organisations to educate senior leaders and their boards, who require a sophisticated understanding of how their organisations are affected by—and can positively impact—climate change.

Human Resources has an integral role to play in the new workforce’s dedication to combatting the climate crisis. Sustainability performance of a company directly influences attraction and retention of employees who are mindful of and are driven by sustainability, and who are supported by the right structure and committed leaders can be the true drivers towards the implementation of sustainability into the core of an organisation’s operations and culture. It is critical for organisations to address people from multiple perspectives: environmental and organisational structure, processes, technology and culture.

Reach out to our Human Capital experts in Switzerland to learn more

The Deloitte Gen Z and Millennial survey revealed that Gen Zs and Millennials seek support and genuine change in the workplace and will leave their organisations if their business leaders fail to act urgently to shape work models that meet their expectations. Human Resources as well as Change Management roles play a particularly critical role in providing a healthy work-life-balance to their employees as well as guiding organisations on their climate and sustainability journeys. If you would like to learn more about leading your organisation to navigate this challenging and critical transition, please contact our team of Human Capital experts in Switzerland (see below).


1 As defined in the study, Gen Z respondents were born between January 1995 and December 2003, and millennial respondents were born between January 1983 and December 1994.

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