Getting the work-life balance right
Published on: 23 Mar 2015 20:18 CET
Munich-based firm Consulting Cum Laude conducted the survey of Generation Y members from Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and the UK.
The findings, released on March 18th, contradict the perception that Generation Y members are work-shy and unwilling to put in the necessary graft, company CEO Roman Diehl told The Local.
“Our survey clearly showed that Generation Y are very keen on developing themselves. They want to have success, but in a different environment to the one we worked in when Generation X were young,” Diehl said.
“It has a lot to do with having more time for themselves and their family. When I started my career, we were working 60 to 70 hours a week. Generation Y know where their physical barriers are. It is a reflection of their childhood. When they grew up, their families didn't have time for them, there were divorces or fathers were getting heart disease.”
Seeking the good life
The survey shows that even the Spanish, whose country has been hard hit economically over the past few years, still value finding the right balance between work and play. Despite a youth unemployment rate of about 50 percent, young Spaniards named work-life balance and an enjoyable work environment as more important than job security.
But economic conditions in their country have still had an affect in shaping their mentality.
“The Spanish show willingness to do everything to increase employability,” Diehl pointed out.
They change subjects at university if they find one that they think will increase their career options. “Spaniards are used to making fast decisions, are very willing to change country and job” if it means giving them a career advantage, he said.
Young Germans have a different attitude. 30 percent of them were categorized by the survey as being 'conservative' in their approach to work. Diehl explained this as meaning they do not place a high value on career progression or salary, but look for job security and satisfaction within the work place.
“More Germans said that when it is not possible to integrate private and professional life, then their private life is more important.”
Brits still see career as important
Young Brits on the other hand are more characterized by the traits that were common among Generation X. Twenty-four percent of young Brits said that their career was the most important thing in their lives, compared to only ten percent of German respondents. Brits are also much more likely to be highly ambitious and seek to become leaders within their organisation than Germans.
And they are prepared to suffer to achieve it. Only 33 percent of Brits said that enjoying their work environment was important. Over half of Dutch and Germans said it was important, and even Spaniards, despite their economic woes, were more likely to see this as important as Brits.
“[For these Brits] earning money and building a career is more relevant,” Diehl said.
This all leads to Diehl to think that Brits would make good employees for the German financial sector.
“It might be helpful for banking and insurance companies to look across the channel. I have had talks with HR professionals at banks who admit that they have an image problem in Germany. If you look at how Generation Y here view this sector, only 8 percent see it as a desirable field of work.”
The survey found that more than double that percentage of Brits see finance as attractive.
Companies changing too slowly
But Diehl warned that German companies still have a long way to go before they properly adjust to the needs of the modern young professional.
“We observed strong hierarchy in German companies: Human resources departments are redesigning career development by evaluating the needs of employees and working towards the talents of young employees. But the large companies are slow in implementing change," he said.
“For many young people when they enter the company it is quite a different world from what they have been promised – it is not dynamic, not multifaceted. And when reality doesn't cope with the promises of HR marketing, the young talents won't stay long.”
But even in this respect there are differences between Generation Y in Britain and Germany.
“In the UK more young people want to work for a global player. Germans don't really care about this. If the company can't show the impact that you will have then Germans won't choose your company.
This means that if you are a DAX 30, it doesn't mean that you don't have to do anything to attract talent.”