Monthly Archives: July 2017

Police Instead Of Porsche: Where Generation Z’s Want to Work

Where do Germany’s future job starters want to go to? Which employers will they prefer? A recently published study offers amazing insights.

By Jens Kügler

Is it Apple or Google Germany, Daimler-Benz, Porsche or Lufthansa? Or is it the long time so seemingly popular “something with media”––in a hip digital agency? Not at all. When asked about who would be their preferred employers, Generation Z members make quite different names and goals emerge in the first place. The market research institute Tendence wanted to know it precisely. Their interviewers asked more than 20,000 young people at general and vocational schools for their current study called Schülerbarometer (“student barometer”).

Number one on the wish list: the police! Just a little bit behind at number three: the army! Just one seemingly “cool” trend mark intervened in second place: Adidas. Isn’t it stunning? Today’s youth is obviously more looking for security than dream, self-realization and brand-focused jobs. About 30 percent prefer the state service––as many as there probably hadn’t been since the days before Flower Power and the peace and student’s movement of the 60ies.

This is really strange to us Older. Because previously, police officers were considered as unpopular regulations-makers. Also, policemen were those who take the fall for us for little money, chase criminals and fight protesters as well as terrorists. And the military service? In spite of orders and obedience, in spite of scandals and combat missions like in Afghanistan––and in spite of the negative attitude that soldiership had in Germany since the disaster of WWII, the Bundeswehr forces are more popular than ever before in this country.

How came the image change? Have the advertising campaigns of the German Armed Forces been effective here? Did the police become more and more sympathetic by the many domestic TV series with policemen and -women acting friendly like “we’re only human”? We don’t know, because fortunately, market researchers can not look into the heads.

Perhaps the government services has actually gained confidence. It may also be because of the fact that the newcomers today simply think more conservatively than their predecessors, the busters, the no-future-generation, the yuppies and the work-life balancers. From our point of view, the present youngsters think conservatively because job security is first for them. Perhaps the result of the student barometer is also an amalgam of both thinking approaches.

It may be a homemade problem that the car producer’s popularity breaks down and makes them no longer be top of the list. BMW is still in 4th place, Audi on 5, Porsche on 7 and Mercedes on 8 of the popularity scale among the students. But the biggest of them, VW, seems to have disappeared in the swamp of their exhaust-fumes scandals. Perhaps this result reveals an increased sense of responsibility among young people.

Is there something growing that the next-next generation will continue? One, which we will perhaps call Generation 1A as we’ve reached the dead end of our Latin alphabet with Z? All this leaves me with some excitement about the future …

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Digitally Trapped On Holidays or: Relaxed At The Beach Until The Boss Whatsapped

“Sorry, I’m on vacation. But you can always call me at any time.” Do you know that sentence? Have you already told it to your boss, clients or customers? Then you are really not alone. According to the result of a recent study, more than two thirds of all Germans are reachable by cellphone during their vacation.

By Jens Kügler

What is vacation? Many employers consider this as a social benefit to their employees. A concession of pure kindness. Of course they are wrong. Holidays and leisure are necessary recreational phases for healthy living and spiritual freshness. This is all the more true for people whose work is just a job to earn a living and not their individual passion or self-fulfillment. In short: for the vast majority of employees.

Vacation is vacation—and being away is being away. So it was—until the blessed inventions of mobile digital communication technology, above all, the mobile phone. The German digital association Bitkom recently published a study, exactly at the time of holiday. In the survey, 71 per cent of German employees indicated that they are accessible for their bosses on holiday.

What does it mean? These 71 per cent do not switch off properly at the beach, at the pool or on the sun lounger to recharge their physical as well as psychical powers. The charger for the mobile phone has become a constant companion, but not the one for the mental fitness. The wrong batteries get charged. 58 percent of survey participants are available for calls. 38 percent answer the e-mails wherever they are. Only a total of 28 per cent really dive off and don’t let themselves get disturbed on holidays. The bravest 28 percent? Maybe just those whose bosses understand what the holiday right was fought for and that man needs rest.

What does Bitkom itself think about all this? The infographic service quotes the Chief Executive Officer Dr. Bernhard Rohleder who said: “Digital technologies enable flexible and self-determined work—anywhere at any time”. That’s right. And there is no doubt that flexibility can be a gain of productivity and quality of life. This is proved by everyone who, like me, regularly works with the notebook on the beach in the sun, relaxed in the cafe or on the train to the business meeting. On the other hand, if you have a boss who can not separate leisure time from working time, you won’t find digital freedom. Instead, you will be captured in the digital trap.

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… And Suddenly The “Old Iron” Is Worth Gold

No more “youth craze” on the labor market! More and more bosses in Germany ask their older workers: Please stay, retire later! And last week the media reported that more and more elderly people agree. Sure, their pensions are shrinking. And the companies want to counter the threat of skills shortage. But are their reasons only demographic?

By Jens Kügler

Old Iron–that’s a discriminating expression once used in Germany for people aged 50, 60 or more. But gone are these times! TV morning magazines as well as prominent print titles recently joined in a different tune. A tune for which the editors of the online economy portal found a nice title: “Appreciation For Old Hands: Experience Is Worth Gold”. The companies need their “old hands” not only because of the demographic change. They also appreciate them. Suddenly—or once again after a long long time.

Forgotten are prejudices like: Older people are constantly ill and less powerful. And above all: older people are no longer able to learn. What do we hear instead? People can learn a whole lifetime! Today’s “old” people are different than those of 20 years ago. Then, over 60-year-olds could hardly cope with computers. Today, they use their smartphones like the young ones do. What else do the papers say? The old hands are indispensable! Why this change of consciousness? According to moderate estimates, Germany will lose between six and seven million skilled workers from employment to retirement by 2030, as says. To many industries, the lack of qualified people is already a threatening challenge.

Now the companies not only discover that their workbenches may soon be left empty. Suddenly, many recognize how important their veterans are economically. With their decades-long professional experience they offer huge potentials. Why haven’t we recognized that earlier? Isn’t it obvious that decades-old employees know the processes and structures in the companies of their industries like their very own hands? They know exactly where to “plug in” to successfully complete a project. The elderly are also loyal to their companies. Job change for career reasons is no longer necessary for them. And last but not least, young greenhorns need many years to develop their coolness and sovereignty in customer talks and negotiations.

Many companies have recognized this late—hopefully not too late. It is especially the big trusts who have understood the demographic problem. The national railroad carrier Deutsche Bahn, for example, had started a “demographers’ collective agreement” several years ago. Elderly workers with onerous jobs can reduce their working time to 81 per cent and receive 90 per cent of their salary. Since the end of 2015, the number of users of this collective agreement has tripled.

However, the situation is worse in the SME’s, the so-called motor of the German economy. The focus here is always on the operative business. Resources such as staff planning departments are unusual. Taking action is often done out of necessity.

Yet, only small details are often enough to change working conditions so that older people want to continue to work healthy and motivated. The possibilities range from flexible working hours through home office work, work-life-balance and sports or health offers to ergonomic workplace design, be it with height-adjustable workstations, back-friendly chairs or larger computer screens.

With a good will, bosses can not only make older employees stay in the company, but also gain older job-seekers and people unwilling to be or become pensioners.

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Cultural Revolution Of Working Class Youth

German (and probably not only German) companies are facing a revolution in corporate culture. The Generation Y workers are challenging the working world and break its traditional rules–successfully. Because the employers urgently need them. What will they change? A recent study indicates some things.

By Jens Kügler

Every month, the career portal Stepstone publishes its “Specialist Atlas” of Germany, evaluating more than two million job advertisements for the domestic labor market. The latest version from May 2017 also includes the results of another study with more than 25,000 specialists and executives. Among them there were about 3,000 graduates and job-starters. What these young people have to say is becoming more and more relevant to their employers in the face of the projected shortage of skilled.

For some years now, we have heard that the young professionals see leisure and flexible working hours as more important than the salary’s amount. And indeed, the new Stepstone study confirms this. 81 percent said that the work-life balance is more critical to choosing a company. But this is not even the top position in the charts of the Millennial’s wishes. 83 percent stated that it’s important for them that their work gets respected and appreciated. Requirement number one really surprised me: 89 per cent choose or prefer companies with a good relationship among the colleagues, peers as well as bosses.

When a more humane working environment decides who will win the heads in the War for Talents, many companies will have to change a lot. But in these changes there is still much greater economic potential than what the young specialists themselves offer. Because all will benefit from the “better relationship” among all employees—from Generation Y to 50 plus, from trainees up to bosses. It is well known that teams with a good working climate are more motivated and productive. The millennials will change corporate culture in their favor and in favor of their businesses. This is the cultural revolution of the young workers. An opportunity for our economy.

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Work In The Social Jet Lag

Rigid working hours are unproductive and unhealthy. They force people to work against their inner clock, they harm companies and their employees. A too challenging thesis? Not if you interpret the results of researchers …

By Jens Kügler

One of these researcher’s thesis is that at least half of all Germans live in a permanent social jet lag. And so do probably other Europeans and Americans, too. Their inner clock ticks differently than the working hours try to force them to. This statement comes from Till Roenneberg, professor at the Institute for Medical Psychology of the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. A colleague had told me about his research studies shortly after last week’s article on the subject of the “inner clock” had gone online. I found his theories published in the magazine Focus Online.

What is the social jet lag? Two examples make this clear. Tow examples in which almost all of us may identify ourselves. Some feel upset in the early morning, like they are torn right from deep sleep. Until noon they work in a kind of half-sleep. It is not until shortly before the evening that they reach their peak performance. For the others, it is exactly the opposite: they are fit early in the morning, but have to work, say, late shift. They get tired already in the afternoon and may have to participate in late-nightly in meetings, desperately concentrated.

Professor Roenneberg compares this situation with that of a person who lives in Munich but has to work at Moscow time. This means that he has to get up three hours earlier than his inner clock wants him to. The wake-up alarm chases him out of bed while his body still sleeps. The metabolism, the hormone production—all this is still in the sleep mode. “Everyone is a different chrono type,” as professor Roenneberg explains. He distinguishes two extremes of chrono types: owls and larks. Larks are the early risers. Like most children and elderly people they go to bed early at night and wake up fit in the morning. The owls are like most teenagers—late types. In the adult age from about 20 years onwards the genes determine whether someone is tending to the owl or the lark. Eventually, everyone’s inner clock is controlled by molecular biology.

How much do we torment ourselves? How much do we get tormented by our employers? This can be felt most intensively by those who must constantly change from early to late or day to night shift. The body needs several days to deal with the jet lag but we don’t give him these days. And then we all know this weekend feeling: the body, especially of the owls, quickly regrows itself into a healthy biorhythm. The more difficult for them is the start back into the week, see Monday morning blues.

The consequences are not only fatigue, sleep disorders and lack of concentration at work. Also, the risk of cardiovascular disease and burnout increases. So work actually makes us sick—if it is biologically wrong timed!

Obviously, not every company, not every department, can be run by employees whose working hours only marginally meet each other or not at all. But I am sure that many, if not very many companies could help to increase the health and productivity of their employees if they were more concerned with the biological laws.

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