There are currently four generations on the German labour market. While the baby boomers (approx. 1946 - 1964) are gradually taking their well-earned retirement, the young Generation Z (approx. 1996 - 2010) is slowly entering the labour market. Generations X (approx. 1965 - 1979) and Y (1980 - 1995) make up the largest proportion of the German labour force. Four generations that could hardly be more different in terms of their values and expectations of the world of work.
Generation Y in particular has brought a breath of fresh air to the labour market. Now aged between 27 and 42, they have actively experienced the turn of the millennium - which is why they are also known as millennials. But how do they differ from their predecessors and successors? What demands and expectations do they have in the world of work? And what can you do to recruit young professionals? I would like to answer all these questions in this article.
How did the millennials grow up?
First of all: I must and will generalise in this article - nevertheless, some millennials certainly differ from the general social science assessments. Generation Y was accompanied and shaped by the rise of the internet and other digital technologies in their childhood and youth, earning them the nickname "digital natives". Information became easily accessible at any time, communication became more fast-paced - but millennials also know a time without smartphones and the associated constant availability. They still wrote letters, used phone boxes or paid attention to the character limit of text messages so as not to exceed their credit.
At the turn of the millennium, the topic of equal rights became popular. Men and women met on an equal footing, both professionally and privately, and the position of children in the family also changed. Generation Y was involved in decision-making from an early age and was brought up to be self-confident, confident people.
Increasing globalisation has shaped the cosmopolitan millennials, but they have also experienced crises such as the collapse of the Soviet Union, climate change and financial crises. They had to learn early on how to deal with uncertainty and keep several options open at the same time in order to be able to react flexibly to the unforeseen.
Generation Y in the world of work
The entry of millennials into the world of work has triggered a series of changes. It is not for nothing that they are also referred to as "Generation Why": Yers are questioning the status quo, including all processes, structures and tasks. In view of the increasing shortage of skilled labour, they can afford to do so; the young generation is aware of the strong demand for qualified talent, so their expectations and demands on companies are correspondingly high.
Their above-average level of education compared to other generations, their diligence and their enthusiasm hold great potential for organisations willing to transform. Self-confident and independently educated, they are not big fans of steep hierarchies, but want to work freely and independently. If you give young talents this opportunity, you will be rewarded with ambition and a willingness to perform. Their openness to new ideas coupled with their willingness to learn can lead to high efficiency if you involve millennials in the design of business processes.
Although Gen Y is currently absorbed in a job that is meaningful to them, they are focussing on a fulfilling private life. The job, the associated workplace and the working hours must match the desired leisure activities - not the other way round. Flexibility and self-direction are therefore very important here. While the younger Generation Z attaches great importance to the separation of work and private life, their predecessors want so-called work-life blending, i.e. the flexible, almost seamless transition between the two.
Genuine interest and passion are more important to millennials than a high salary. As they are very socially inclined, a harmonious working environment is just as important to them as team play; they like to make friends at work. Time with family and friends cannot be outweighed by generous benefits. Their activities should have a deeper meaning, offer variety and bring them joy. Although Generation Y is not flighty, but reliable and career-oriented and strives for professional self-realisation and influence, millennials are quickly ready to change jobs if their employer does not want to fulfil their wishes.
How can Generation Y be recruited?
The key term in recruiting millennials is employer branding, i.e. the development and representation of an attractive employer brand. Digital natives are always online and looking for information. If they come across a job advertisement, they will only consider applying after extensive research - unless they are already familiar with the company (through successful employer branding). So make sure you have an appealing online presence, an informative careers page and maintain your social media profiles. Millennials primarily use Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. All company channels should present a consistent, attractive image and offer insights into the corporate culture and everyday working life. But be careful, authentic and approachable is much better received here than staged and calculated.
Speaking of authenticity: To support your employer branding, you can also work with corporate influencers. These are your own employees who are satisfied with their job and provide insights into everyday life at the company on social networks. If you want to score points with millennials, the brand ambassadors should also be aged between their late 20s and early 40s. Topics such as working in a team are of particular interest to Generation Y and should not be neglected in terms of content.
As already mentioned, the Gen Y age group is open-minded and can also make short work of changing jobs if they are dissatisfied. Once again, it is worth networking and regularly - but unobtrusively - refreshing contacts. With a newsletter in job subscription format, for example, you can keep young talents up to date on vacancies in your company that match their profile.
To win over millennials in the recruitment process, you should focus on a simple, transparent and appreciative approach. Digital natives are used to quick response times and constant feedback. Instead of sticking to rigid processes and traditional procedures, you can impress them with an uncomplicated, relaxed and personal approach. More important to millennials than financial benefits are opportunities for personal development, a harmonious working environment and a meaningful corporate culture. With offers for individual work organisation, health promotion or work-life balance - such as childcare - you can express the commitment and appreciation that Generation Y wants in the workplace.