PwC Workforce Preference Study 2020

EMEA Focus

PwC’s mission is to build trust in society and solve important problems, and our recent Workforce preference study is one contribution to fulfilling that purpose. The study reveals the desires and priorities of tomorrow’s workforce, providing organisations with valuable insights to improve their desirability as a potential employer, and increase employee retention rates.

2020 was an extraordinary year, full of additional challenges for employers and employees due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the labour market and working conditions have changed, and will continue to do so at an ever increasing speed.  Organisations need to reimagine their personnel approach to keep up with this evolution.

The survey

The survey gathered the views and expectations of students and career starters, aged 16-28, with all levels of education from 11 countries in the EMEA region. It covered every employee preference area playing a part in workplace choice. We defined these areas by identifying current trends, motivation theories, employee experience components and client feedback. 

The study also offers the possibility to drill down into data, such as demographic, to get more detailed insights into mindset variations between different segments. 

Borderless youth - The shared values of young people

Today’s young people are different from previous generations, as their preferences and habits are majorly influenced not by locations but the borderless, global context enabled by disruptive technologies, social media and thus the virtual space that leads to generational patterns rather than local ones.

Transparency and fairness

As technologies offer constant access to immediate and internal insights, and information is being shared real-time, people are monitoring what is going on in the world. In the eyes of young adults, transparency has become a hygiene factor that employers must guarantee.


Young job-seekers want to explore the real face of a workplace before applying, and by making use of their informal channels and social media platforms they can easily get internal insights. They have the awareness and access to the right tools, to take a look behind the scenes and behind the face of a brand.


Borders have lost their relevance, as free or easy movement in the world is already a hygiene factor. As a result, young people expect fewer international opportunities from their employers.


In the way that digital technologies allow high flexibility in their private lives, young employees expect the same from their future employers, such as work schedule flexibilty.

Differences between preferences based on geographical locations

Local culture, history, social norms and the main attributes of the labour market (e.g. unemployment rate, average basic salary) also have an effect on young people’s preferences. We see unique preferences - besides the globally unanimous ones - in all measured regions. 

  • In Western and Southwest Europe  young people are looking for a very strong people focused culture
  • In Central Europe their main concern is to have more work-life balance. 
  • In South Africa preferences are around result orientation.
  • In South East Europe (Turkey) preferences are characterised by putting community first, the individual second.
  • In Eastern Europe (Russia) financial benefits are the most important.

Key actions that businesses should take

Data-based decision making is the only way to stay ahead of the competition and successfully recruit young talent. Our world is changing faster than ever before, with disruptive technologies and globalisation offering young workers endless information and opportunities. That’s why it’s crucial for organisations to work from reliable data when building up their external and internal employer brand. 

Want to understand the specific preferences of your workforce?

We can help you. Together we can zoom into what your organisation wants to achieve in the focus areas covered by this study. Our expertise and tailor-made solutions will help you identify the future-proof value proposition that you need to succeed!

Bart Van den Bussche, Director, People & Organisation

"Challenge becomes its own reward once base pay is adequate. Our study reveals regional differences in employee preferences. It is clear that a one-size-fits-all reward package is not the best way to successfully recruit and retain talent to foster a diverse workforce. Corporate cultures that focus on people rank highly in West and South-West Europe while in other regions preferences can be more financial and result oriented. It is therefore crucial for organisations to have reliable data about the driving forces for young talent when choosing a future employer".

Bart Van den Bussche, Director, People & Organisation

Contact us

Bart Van den Bussche

Bart Van den Bussche

Director, PwC Belgium

Tel: +32 474 23 93 48

Connect with PwC Belgium