Millennials At Work

How the millennials have changed the world of work.

They want sabbaticals instead of company cars, meaning instead of promotions. And bosses who coach more than they control: Generation Y demands a change in work – what has it already achieved?

Two hearts beat in Valerie Ludwig’s chest. One for the management of large companies and one for development aid. That the 28-J?hrige makes now one year break from its job with one of the world-wide largest management consultations and for the Welthungerhilfe works, does not only have to do however with these two hearts.

But also with the fact that their employer, the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), has stated: “Many young employees of Generation Y are not only looking for a job with a good salary and a balanced work-life balance, but also for flexibility and a ‘meaningful job’.” The employer has also stated: “Many young employees of Generation Y are looking for a job with a good salary and a balanced work-life balance, but also for flexibility and a ‘meaningful job’. That’s why BCG provides financial support when employees want to spend a year saving the world rather than optimizing large corporations.

When researchers talk about the Millennials or Generation Y, i.e. those born between 1980 and 2000, they paint exactly this picture: This generation, contrary to many prejudices, is certainly performance-oriented and also wants to be successful – but not at the expense of family, friends or personal interests.

Generation Y wants work that makes sense and contributes to self-realization. The scientists call it a “synthesis of performance and enjoyment of life”. Of course, these wishes are not entirely new. What is new is that this generation formulates them and challenges them – not only after 20 years of working life, but from the very beginning. They are giving up money in favour of more leisure time and still want to be in a leading position.

On the one hand, this behavior can be explained by an upbringing which, in safe and full times, was characterized by attention, appreciation and wish fulfillment by the parents. And with less competition on the labor market: Many industries are currently desperately looking for apprentices and skilled workers.

To prevent people from running away, many companies have long since adopted the spirit of the times. They attract with flexible working hours, home offices and company daycare centers. Even IG-Metall recently found that work had to fit in with life, and in future will give employees the choice between more money or more free time.

But is all this already being lived, or has the beautiful new world of work so far mainly taken place on paper? Has anything really changed, and if so, what?

In fact, flexitime, part-time work, parental leave and sabbaticals have long been established in many companies. Perhaps also because employees have recognized: If working hours are becoming more and more unrestricted and bosses assume that you also check e-mails in the evening, then in return they also have to make flexible working possible. However, it also depends on the industry, the size of the company and whether employees dare to take advantage of these opportunities.

A major change, however, has taken place across almost all industries over the past ten years: fathers taking parental leave. Although most of them – 80 percent of them, according to the Federal Statistical Office – still only take the two months that are additionally subsidized by the state and would otherwise expire, and many do not cook organic carrot porridge during this time, but travel around the world with their families, it has nevertheless become normal – and always independent of whether the job or career is already safe.

Even in male-dominated and competitive industries such as finance, things are moving: for example, if only three men took parental leave at Deutsche Bank in 2007, by 2017 the figure had risen to 668.

Jan Boehm, 47, is a manager and executive at Deutsche Bank. And he was on parental leave twice.

With his first child in 2011, Boehm worked 50 percent for four months, with his second child he was completely twelve months out. “It was the best thing for us as a family,” he says. “My wife took care of the baby during that time and I took care of the older child.

He didn’t fear any disadvantages for his career, as he was already established in his job at that time, says Boehm. “Male colleagues with older children were sometimes surprised at first, but then often envious. They get angry afterwards that they themselves didn’t have so much time with their children.”

Boehm, however, returned full-time. It couldn’t be any other way in his job, he says: “I work a lot”. But flexible working hours are also more important to him than part-time work. In any case, he must always be fully involved and reachable with his thoughts. What the manager, on the other hand, has changed is that “I question every evening I’m not at home”.

Unlike time-outs, companies are still struggling with job sharing and established home offices. Officially, more and more employers are offering homeworking, but in practice, many employees complain, this would be difficult or undesirable and would remain the exception.

And in general, anyone who can choose between a home office, free Fridays, a company car or a BahnCard 100 belongs to a privileged minority in Germany that is well educated and usually works in so-called “shortage jobs”, such as in the mint sector, in the tech sector or on a project-by-project basis.

In the retail trade, the logistics sector and other service occupations, on the other hand, it is now necessary to work around the clock and on call. And it’s also clear that doctors, cashiers and plumbers simply can’t work from home or spontaneously stop early because the weather is so nice and they just do the rest later.

According to researchers and superiors, this change is mainly attributable to the millennials and is slowly gaining ground in companies, regardless of the industry and size.

“Generation Y has completely different expectations of the management style of their bosses than the generations before them,” says industrial psychologist Peter Fischer of the University of Regensburg. “Superiors should therefore be more coaches than bosses, more mentors than controllers. They should steer, guide and trust instead of making specifications. What also distinguishes the Millennials is their great openness to other cultures, a sense of diversity and that on average they are less racist and sexist than previous generations.