KIENBAUM and THE AMBITION explore the importance of pop culture for talent acquisition

For companies and HR managers, hardly any other topic is as relevant as talent acquisition. More than every second manager recognizes the war for talent as a major problem (Kienbaum & Loop GmbH_creating places, 2022). They do not understand what Gen Z talents demand and expect.

The right question companies should ask themselves is not “where do I find suitable talent?” but “how do I learn to understand their demands and implement them in the organizational context?”

An exploratory study by the global HR and management consultancy KIENBAUM and THE AMBITION raises the question: What if companies completely overlook one crucial aspect? One that shapes people in their personality, determines their values and the criteria of their satisfaction and motivation?


Hiphop culture shapes pop culture. 65% of Gen Z identify with the movement. What impact does this have on talent acquisition and retention?

The investigation approaches the question through a survey of readers of Germany’s largest magazine for hiphop culture, Hiphop.de. In addition, we conducted qualitative interviews with people who once had careers in corporations and now work within hiphop culture. The results were compared with the findings of several previous studies by Kienbaum.

What we have found:

  • From the perspective of employers, a high level of intrinsic motivation is what primarily characterizes top-level candidates. However, 6 out of 10 respondents leave problems unsolved because of a lack of motivation. This contradicts the high value hiphop culture puts on self-empowerment. So what causes intrinsic motivation in people identifying with hiphop culture?
  • The survey cites two crucial factors: recognition and a sense of belonging. The formation of “crews”-close, loyal groups-is central in hiphop. Equivalently, employees at work want a team that accepts them for who they are, treats them with respect and stands by them. Including their boss.

“Brands have always shaped culture and identity. But this time and this generation demand a collective will to shape things. Participation and activation are moving to the center of every organization,” says André Paetzel, Brand Experience Officer Kienbaum Consultants International.

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