at Once

What does Generation Y want? Worldwide, companies are doing everything they can to win over the best young talent. They can succeed – with maximum flexibility

Everyone is talking about Generation Y. But what do they really mean by it? Said in English, the Y becomes why – and already we have an explanation for the term. This is because it is the issue of the meaningfulness of one’s work, which is becoming more and more important to those born between 1980 and 1999. Traditional goals such as status and prestige, which were important to earlier generations, are put on the back burner. Generation Y doesn‘t wait until after work to start enjoying life, work should be fulfilling in its own right. Companies must take these changing demands into account – through varied options for flexibly structuring the individual’s working area.


The mobile working option at Continental makes it possible for me to have a balance between my private life and work.

Janette Galvan-Diaz,
head of IT Service Desk

Everyday Life with Janette Galvan-Diaz 

Mobile Working at Continental

Baby boomers set the course

More freedom, more self-realization, more time for family and friends – this is the public perception of Generation Y’s central concerns. Behind this lies a change in values that can be considered thoroughly ambivalent. For example, Harvard graduate and blogger Tim Urban explains on his popular platform Waitbutwhy.com, that the way Generation Y‘s parents, the so-called baby boomers born between 1955 and 1969, raised their children has had a decisive influence on Generation Y: Baby boomers achieved more in their lives than almost any generation before them and they transferred their boundless optimism to their children. You can achieve everything you work for – and all doors are open. This is how Generation Y grew up with the belief that they are the focus of a rather special story.


Shaped by hi-tech and global crises

Tim Urban sees an increasing sense of entitlement in some members of Generation Y, based around the idea that: “Everyone finds a job that is fulfilling but I am exceptionally wonderful and MY career and MY life will be outstanding compared with all others.” It is absolutely clear that such expectations cannot always withstand reality and also create disillusionment or even a feeling of being let down. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung makes a similar assessment, dubbing the hopeful employees in provocative headlines as “Traumtänzer” (dream chasers) – only to quickly qualify this, because it is undeniable that alongside great self-confidence, excellent educations and positive thinking, the younger generation also possesses other qualities. One of Germany’s most renowned youth researchers, the sociologist Klaus Hurrelmann, argues that succeeding generations usually question everything that previous generations were enthusiastic about. This is not the case for Generation Y, but the conclusion that they are excessively conformist is not legitimate either. In fact, from birth, the lives of this generation have been subjected to very complex changes in technological advancements and also by a politically challenging era – for example, the terror attacks in New York, environmental disasters such as Fukushima, and the worldwide banking crisis. This can also be seen at the highest international level, in relation to the economically difficult times: José Ángel Gurría, the secretary general of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), was quoted in the British newspaper The Guardian as saying:

“The situation is tough for young people. They were hit hard by the Great Recession, and their labor market situation has improved only little since.”

It must be assumed that the huge upheavals in society are now causing rather short-sighted behavior and with it, Generation Y’s high level of adaptiveness. In other words, young people now require from their employers the high level of flexibility that they themselves bring to the workplace.


In the future, I don’t want to look back and realize what a shame it is that I never tried to live out my dream.

Harm Osmers,
Manager Controlling Research
and Development Tires

On the Line with Harm Osmers

Working Part-Time at Continental


The three most important goals in professional life

Find out more about the Continental "Carreers Survey 2016 – Digitalization of the World of Work"

1. Balance between professional and private life

is most important for 66% of students and 58% of professionals

2. Job security

is very important for 40% of students and 40% of professionals

3. Good earnings

are important for 32% of students and 34% of professionals

Companies must adapt

Of course, you cannot make sweeping generalizations about a whole generation. According to the results of the study “Wertewelten Arbeiten 4.0” (Values at Work 4.0) by the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, for example, associating employed persons of certain generations with corresponding ways of thinking is already dated. In the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, they anticipate that HR staff and recruiting experts will have to rethink in the future: “For employers and management personnel, it is high time to abandon assumptions about Generation Y or other homogeneous groups. The world of work is simply more complex, and fast-paced and perceptions of good work are more varied.”

Generation Y – anything but uniform

The Kienbaum Institute at the International School of Management noticed in their own study of graduates that companies should not expect a uniform group of employees in the future. The management experts differentiate between four different types within Generation Y. While the “career-oriented” prize professional advancement above all, the “ambitious” try to achieve an equal balance of success, career, family and friends. In turn, the “experience-oriented” prioritize family and friends and see themselves first and foremost doing varied tasks in a cooperative working environment with flat hierarchies. This leaves the “direction-seeking” – they don’t yet have clear values and goals in life and therefore hope that their potential employers will provide clear objectives and structures to highlight their strengths.


When I look back at my sabbatical, it was an unbelievably good opportunity for me to try out something completely different again, without giving up the security that comes with employment.

Dr. Christopher Schierholz,
department manager,
central materials lab

Living out Your Dreams with Christopher Schierholz

Sabbaticals at Continental

Putting theory into practice

While the buzzword “Generation Y” will continue to be hotly debated, Continental has already taken steps to be seen as a more attractive employer. Because one thing is for sure: Flexibility is becoming increasingly important for employers in order to win young talent. Whether part-time work, sabbaticals or mobile working, Continental offers a variety of opportunities worldwide to better combine your career, private life and interests in a satisfying way.

Offers for approximately 244,000 employees around the world – Continental wants these to make flexible working conditions possible for everyone.



Continental Magazine Issue 1/2017