of a new era at work
win over and keep
by Steffi Burkhart & Orsolya Nemes
In the analogue world
2.500 km sets us apart.
In the digital world 0.
In the analogue world
sets us apart.
In the digital world .
We met online. Via SlideShare, YouTube and Facebook.
Three weeks later, Orsolya happened to give a talk on
Generation Y at a conference in Cologne, Germany –
where Steffi is based. Seemed to be the perfect coinci-
dence. So we exchanged some Facebook messages and
ended up at a café in the Belgian Quarter chatting about
our lives, thoughts – and obviously Generation Y. By the
last sip of our Latte we decided to write this mini ebook.
is the extension of the
analogue world for us
enables us to do an inter-
is the central element for
a constructive work
The digital world
We speak mostly in English, mix
it with German and sometimes
Steffi rocks Hungarian with the
help of Google translator.
We met only once in person.
But over a 100 times online.
We wrote this book in Google Drive.
We talk via Skype and Facebook.
and it is
we are loving it
Our common vision
is to change the way
people think about
Generation Y at work
and help companies to
understand us better.
2 Generation Y ambassadors
2 young ladies
2 mother tongues
half of the global workforce
will be consisting of Millennials²
we will take up 75% of the jobs³
by 2020 by 2025
Members of Generation Y¹ are 20–33-years-
old today. We are the youngest generation on
the job market. And as it seems, we are turn-
ing the world of work upside down.
We bet these guys give you a headache. Here’s
a sneak peek into our minds.
3. Both statistics are from Millennials at work, PwC 2011 http://bit.ly/PwCMillennials
1. In this mini-ebook we are focusing on 20-somethings living in the western world.
2. The term “Millennials” refers to the generation born between 1982-2000. It is the collective expression
used to describe members of Generation Y and Z together.
Don’t read any books about us.
Don’t talk about us.
Don’t read any books us.
Don’t talk us.
Everybody is talking about us instead of with us!
That’s why we are judged negatively. People like
to say that we don’t respect anybody, we are lazy,
entitled, unmotivated, and have irrealistic expec-
tations at work. They are guessing why we behave
the way we do – instead of simply asking us.
We see the whole
From the perspective
of Generation Y.
We would like
to share this
Because who understands
why we tick the way we do,
what is in the background and
how it influences the way we
see the world of work, will
have an enormous advantage
in winning over and keeping
young top talents.
Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt
Oh, those young
Anything that is in the
world when you’re born is
normal and ordinary and
is just a natural part of
the way the world works.
Anything that’s invented
between you’re 15 and 35
is new and exciting and
revolutionary and you can
probably get a career in it.
Anything invented after
you’re 35 is against the
natural order of things.
Millennials a.k.a. Generation Y and Generation Z
are said to bring on the end of humanity with their
smartphones and use of social media. Oh, and don’t
get us started on Alphas growing up with tablets and
being online from the moment their navel string is cut.⁴
The world always had a problem with the actual
youngest generation. The Veterans surviving the
horror of world wars were frustrated with their
hippie Baby Boomer kids putting flowers in their
hair, wearing funky clothes, and going to Woodstock.
When Generation X was young, people thought
that they would become antisocial and brain-dead
because of watching MTV, listening to weird music
with their walkmans and reading comic books.
1925 – 45
1946 – 64
1965 – 81
GENERATION YGENERATION X GENERATION Z ALPHAS
1982–95 1996 – 2007 after 2008
4. There is no officially agreed timetable on generations, these are the age divisions we find the most fitting.
Yes, we know. It’s all in the numbers. The western world
is getting older and older and there are less and less
young people following their footsteps. The shape of the
age pyramid in the western world is transforming. The age
structure in these regions has long left behind the idea of
resembling an actual pyramid, where the largest group of
the population was the youngest. It has started to look
like the Chrysler Building instead.
0 2.5% 5%5% 2.5%
source: United Nations, Department of
Economic and Social Affairs, Population
Division. World Population Prospects:
The 2012 Revision. (Medium variant)
‘war of talents’
‘war for talents’.
means that there
will be a shift of
power. From the
employer to the
The number of babies born have been decreasing for
decades. At the same time, the number of the grey-
haired population is increasing. The single growing
age group are the over 50s and 80-year-olds. We are
transforming into a “Silver Society.”
Obviously, this development has an effect on the
job market as well. At a number of companies
the average age of employees is between 45-50.
According to current prognoses, till 2025 there won’t
be enough people to fill millions of positions at work,
as Baby Boomers will retire and there aren’t simply
enough youngsters to fill up all those places⁶. And
since the talent pool is becoming smaller, recruiting
and retaining young talents will be one of the
greatest challenges of companies in the following
years. Top talents will become a short supply.
6. The impact of aging Baby Boomers on Labor Force Participation. Alicia H. Munnell, Center for Retirement Research at Boston
College. February 2014, No. 14-4 http://bit.ly/BBRetirementBC
That’s why it’s extremely important to develop and
take actions in order to make your company attractive
as an employer. We don’t mean to scare you, but if you
want to walk away from this situation as a winner,
you have to think ahead.
Like, right now.
You’ll ask us at the job interview why we want to work
there. Well, we will ask you, what you can offer. We
want to know how we can contribute to make the
world a better place by taking a job at your company.
What matters for us is how attractive your company
is. From the inside. Not only from the outside.
How can you do that?
Let us give you some tips!
Win Generation Y
over for your company
What makes a company attractive
for a 20-something?
The rising influence of social media and smartphones
has altered the way we seek, evaluate and engage
in work. These tools have enabled us to talk to each
other, search and do research in a matter of seconds,
24/7. But it’s not the end of the story. In the past
15 years we have seen small start-ups, founded by
open-minded young entrepreneurs grow into huge
enterprises (Google, Facebook, Twitter etc.) in front
of our eyes – and introduce a new work culture.
Different and more human-scaled than we ever saw
before. Where our age is not a disadvantage, but an
advantage. Oh, and we are valued and encouraged
at these companies as well. Including our ideas. In
a world where successful start-ups are attracting
top talents like magnets with the possibility to do
meaningful work, with cozy, fun and social offices as
well as with a friendly, team-spirited environment.
They offer to be part of a mission to
change the course of the world.
Brand your company
We are used to making decisions quickly and choose the one
thing we need from an enormous sea of products – and informa-
tion. We grew up in a consumer society, after all, and have been
bombarded with commercial messages since birth. And we’ve got
some news for you. We choose our employer the same way we
choose shampoo, our Converse or a can of soda. It might seem
cruel, but that’s how it is. We don’t want a job. We want to work.
We want to do something meaningful. We want to see the big
picture. Something we can associate ourselves with. You know,
we just want to make the world a better place. Day by day.
75% of Millennials believe that businesses are too fixated with
their own agendas and not focused enough on helping to im-
prove society.⁶ To draw us in, define the value you represent and
show it to us. What is your value proposition? What is the greater
good? Make us feel that we are a part of your brand, use visuals
to engage us and inspire us to take action. Do what hasn’t been
done before. We like new and bold. Communicate that authenti-
cally and we’ll stand in line to work for you.
If you think about it, these are the same things you expect us to do.
we just want to
make the world
a better place
#brandyourself6. Mind the gaps. The 2015 Deloitte Millennial survey, Deloitte, 2015 www.deloitte.com/MillennialSurvey
happening in the world right now, should it be Grumpy Cat
or hunting down the Charlie Hebdo shooters. Social media
is a tool for starting a conversation. Talk with us and provide
information we really need – not what you think we need. Oh,
and please grab a UX designer to tailor your webpage! Make
it fun, engaging and responsive – if you don’t want us to tune
out after three seconds.
Also, we are used to personalized content. Google follows
every search we take, every click we make. And it’s not
missing a keystroke. It knows what we talk about in our
e-mails, which YouTube videos we watch, what pages we
have liked on Facebook and offers us ads accordingly. It
makes a story out of the digital footprint we leave (and believe
us, it’s a big one) and personalizes marketing messages
accordingly. If you embrace big data and do the same when
you are recruiting us, you’ll have a greater chance to find the
top talents you are looking for. Pay attention to what and
where we are talking about and find a clever way into the
conversation – and you will not only convince us, but we will
become your social media megaphones.
7. Crowdtap and Ipsos Media CT: Social influence: Marketing’s New Frontier, March 2014
We look around for employers. Thoroughly. And we are picky,
yes. But we do our homework and come prepared as well.
The problem is that sometimes we just can’t find what we
need about a company because they aren’t present on our
platforms. We want information.
We want to see what others think of you. We want
impressions, from a lot of people working there – and not
working there. We spend 5,4 hours / day with user generated
content a.k.a UGC⁷ (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp). We
like it, because it is real-time, fast and shows us everything
Be present on
8. Crowdtap and Ipsos Media CT: Social influence: Marketing’s New Frontier, March 2014
Before social media took over, marketers were busy cre-
ating beautiful corporate videos, hanging shiny posters
on walls with happy stock photo employees and telling
the world how awesome it was to work there. In the age
of social media, our motto is “We will decide, what we will
think of your brand.” We have started building our own pic-
tures about companies, their values – and whether these
correlate with what they communicate. For us information
we receive through social media, through our own network
is highly trustworthy. Guess what, we trust UGC 40% more
than information we get from traditional media sources
like TV, print, radio or newspaper and magazines⁸. Thanks
to this wonderful little invention called the Internet (and
the fact that we are connected, networked and always
online) employer brand is shifting towards what other
people say about your company – not what you say about
yourself. If something is fishy, we share it. But the good
news is: if we like something, we will share it even more.
if we like
we will share
it even more
Besides winning over young talents, it will be more
and more striking for companies to keep them on the
long run as well. 54% of Generation Y expects to have
2–5 workplaces, while 16% count with 6–9 employers
during their career⁹ (compared to 2–3 jobs Generation
X:ers, and 1–2 Baby Boomers calculated with). That’s a
lot of job hopping. Recruiting and training a newcomer
at the company is a lot of time, effort and money. And
by the time your recruit starts to find his way through
the maze of a corporation, well, he just bids goodbye.
Maybe. Why not try work-life blending instead of
work-life balance, career safety instead of job safety
and flexible working hours for young families?
9. Millennials at work, PwC 2011 http://bit.ly/PwCMillennials
Wouldn’t it be easier to create
an environment where people
can strive and feel so good
that they don’t want to leave?
We live in a world of constant feedback. There is a
smartphone in our pocket and we get comments all the
time - whether we like it or not. If you think about it,
social media platforms are all built on 100% feedback,
right? So we are used to getting comments on what we
have cooked, where we were with our friends or what
we think of the world. But there’s another aspect of
feedback. We mostly learn skills at college, so we have
to put theory into realization, gain practical knowledge
at work. Feedback helps us know whether we are on the
right track, going in the right direction and developing
in a way which is good not only for us personally, but
for our company as well. Don’t get us wrong, we’re not
talking about a tap on our head, candies and carrots.
Give us meaningful and helpful comments on our job.
Forget employer assessment once a year. Go for constant
comments on our performance. Think of feedback as
signposts on the road showing us which way to go. Help
us to excel and develop. Communicate the big picture and
reward the small wins. And we will love you for that.
give us meaningful
and helpful comments
on our job
Everybody is talking about work-life balance. But you know
what? That is so 2014. We are 100% wired. The Internet has
enabled us to work from home, or from non-traditional
workplaces like a café or from the airport on the go - as
long as we have our laptops, tablets, smartphones and we
are online. It gave us freedom. And we are loving it. We
like to work wherever and whenever inspiration strikes
us. And if it happens at 10 pm and we don’t even stand up
till 3 am. But we won’t be happy (and useful) the next day
if we have to check in at 9 am at work. If we have to wait
for the plumber to fix our sink, well, we can still log in and
work from home. And this doesn’t mean that we don’t do
the job. It just requires a more project-based approach.
Flexibility is what we expect. So we have to forget about
work-life balance and talk about work-life blending instead.
Working hours and and private life are inseparable for us.
Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean team meetings at 3 am.
The employer and the employee have to look for ways to
enable work-life blending together. A 20-something has
different needs than an older person or a working mom.
is what we
We are used to things changing around us all the time, so are
always ready for the hammer to drop. We saw the iPhone
revolutionizing the way we share, communicate, as well as our
customs in 2007. We saw the world go down after the 2008
financial crisis and our parents lose their jobs even after being
loyal to a company for 20 years. We saw the Ukraine crisis
break out and shatter status quos in 2013. We are prepared
that we have to stand our ground whatever comes. Out of
the blue. We are used to the fact that nothing is taken for
granted anymore. There is no secure full-time job anymore.
The speed of business is always changing, the economy is
too unpredictable and technology is evolving rapidly. There
are simply too many factors we can’t control. We have long
bid goodbye to career safety and settled in for uncertainty.
Our single chance to stand our ground is if we, personally
have an appealing set of skills and competences as well as a
broad network from all fields. No wonder that instead of a job
safety, 20-somethings are aiming for career safety. Our basic
mode is adaptation. We are chameleons always changing,
blending and learning new skills to stay alive – we just follow
the constant changes of our environment. It is pure evolution.
We are evaluating our employers based on how well they
are helping us grow, to improve our skills, become better and
better at our jobs. Whether they are encouraging us, how
great they are as mentors and coaches, whether they allow
us to exploit our strengths and what kind of possibilities they
offer us to develop professionally.
Family friendliness is basically flexibility on the long run.
It’s a misconception that we are so self-absorbed, busy
finding ourselves that we don’t want to have kids. We do.
Really. Actually, our No. 1. value is to be a good parent,
having a high-paying career comes only in the 6th place¹⁰.
Most of us just wants to figure out ourselves before we
take on a life-long project like raising a kid. But no wonder,
towards our 30s it is becoming an issue. But we have to
provide for those little toddlers. The family model, however,
where only one person is making money isn’t working
anymore. A lot of Generation Y-ers would like to – and have
to share family management. We want to be there for our
kids. We want to see them grow up. Not only girls, boys
as well. Living according to the classic wife and husband
roles isn’t working anymore. It is practically impossible
to raise kids and save money in general, as well as put
something away for retirement, while the living costs and
rents are increasing, and your net income is shrinking – all
alone as a working parent. The prospect of part-time jobs
and more flexibility at working hours and place, as well
as the reintegration after maternity leave can’t be empty
talk anymore. We want to be great parents. And we like to
work. Work is a way of self-expression for us. You just have
to enable us to integrate the two things without having to
sacrifice one for the other.
10. Millennials. A Portrait of Generation
Next. Confident. Connected. Open to
Change. Pew Research Center, 2010.
We know it’s kind of trendy to trash us nowadays
in the media. But guess what. We are not that
bad. What we are “claiming” is not only for us.
It’s for us all. For everybody getting up and going
to work day by day. It’s all about creating a work-
place everybody can find inspiring, engaging and
meaningful. It’s for everyone across generations.
Companies that have been successful in attracting and
obtaining Generation Y (like Google, Coca-Cola or Nike) are
innovative and welcome young talents with open arms.
They provide an inspiring work environment with creative
tasks and value their co-workers. The funny thing is that
these companies don’t target Millennials specifically. It is
their culture, values, management style, the opportunities,
the team spirit and the work environment that draws
us in naturally. And because of this, they are able
to pick the best of the best.
“Mission. Transparency. Voice.
These three components of
our culture create a virtuous
cycle of attraction, community,
engagement, and innovation.
If you give people freedom,
they will amaze you. They’ll do
remarkable things and all you
need to do is give them a little
infrastructure and a lot of room
to change the world. And I think
that holds in any industry.”
Laszlo Bock, SVP of
People Operations, Google
So take a deep breath and take the leap.
Don’t settle for mediocrity just because that’s how things
used to be done. Don’t be afraid to rethink your structure.
Your processes. What you think about work. And most
importantly, your values. The only way for businesses to
consistently succeed today is to attract smart creative
employees and create an environment where they can
thrive. And this goes for all generations.
Oh, and one more thing.
Remember. By 2020, half of the global workforce will be
consisting of Millennials and by 2025, we will take up 75% of
the jobs¹¹. It is not that far away. What we are talking about
is 5–10 years from now. And it is happening anyway.
Start building your company
brand now to draw us in and
talk to us. Guide us and help us
become better professionals,
and yes, sooner or later
managers. We will be more
than grateful for that. Let’s
build a workplace and work
culture that fits us all and
allows personalities, ambitions
and dreams to shine through
regardless of generations!11. Millennials at work, PwC 2011 http://bit.ly/PwCMillennials
Written with love by
dr. Steffi Burkhart
and Orsolya Nemes
We are the voices of our generation, Generation Y. Our
goal is to meet the needs and demands of the younger
generations with those of the job market. We both step out
to the spotlight on stage from time to time to talk about
Generation Y, help companies with employer branding and
facilitating different generations to understand each other.
Do you have
Steffiis 29 and works happily at a young company.
It wasn’t always like that. Her first job was a complete culture
shock. For a long time, she didn’t understand why, and though
the problem was her own way of thinking and behavior – so
she questioned those. Then, since her friends also turned out
to be having such problems at work, she decided to research
the topic. Her inquiry led her to the conclusion that the same
way we are talking about different company structures and
management styles, generations don’t work the same way
either. Different generations have different points of views.
They have their own approach of the world of work and man-
agement culture, which you have to synchronize them for
the sake of a fruitful cooperation. Since this realization, she’s
been writing a blog, magazine articles, giving interviews and
talks on different stages, sitting in panel discussions – and
also appears as an expert on TV and offering consultancy with
her Generation Y team. Steffi is based in Cologne, Germany.
Orsolyais also 29. Right after graduation she
landed her dream job at on one of the best OD consultant com-
panies in Budapest. But soon it turned out that her hands were
tied – because of her age. As she believed that good ideas are not
age-bound, she decided to prepare a presentation on Generation
Y she uploaded to SlideShare. It became the Top Presentation
of the Day and was picked by the editorial team as one of the
best in 10 million uploads. The wonderful feedback she received
urged her to become the voice of her generation. She had the
amazing opportunity to talk about her journey and Generation Y
at TEDxYouth@Budapest in 2013, followed by another invitation
to hit the stage at TEDxDanubia in 2014. Today, she is leading
her own business, Y Consulting, where she helps corporations to
understand and embrace Generation Y, to support multi-gener-
ation cooperation and to rock employer and company branding.
She also offers presentation training, coaching and design. She
is a frequent speaker both at local and international confer-
ences on Generation Y. Orsolya is based in Budapest, Hungary.
Dr. Steffi Burkhart
firstname.lastname@example.org | www.steffiburkhart.de email@example.com
+36 30 374 33 23+49 (0) 176-47014303