Boehringer Ingelheim
12 August 2016

Gen Y - Greetings from the drawer

Now that the youngest members of generation Y are gradually entering the job market, they are increasing their representation in the workplace. So it is understandable that employers are focusing on the needs of "Gen Y".  Lisa Marie, a student in Diversity & Inclusion Germany at Boehringer Ingelheim, is herself a representative of this much discussed and extensively analyzed generation. In her article she talks about how she views herself and her generation – and the role that employers have to play in this scenario.

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Let's take a metaphorical peek in the "Generation Y" drawer!

Inside, apart from some Pokémon nerds, we see things such as disorientation, individualization, a search for meaning, feedback, further development – or at least that's what most people think. Yet here I also find myself, in the middle of all these stereotypical characterizations.  


The view from the drawer


I can observe how the drawer is repeatedly opened and someone peers in with the aim of discovering something about Generation Y. But rarely does anyone ask how I arrived here and how things actually look from the drawer.


In fact, I see a generation for whom the whole world is opening up and who can do anything, but who also have to cope with the major challenge of finding ways of sorting and limiting all their options. We are also extensively networked, looking left and right to discover things which, though they may appear strange to us, others find fulfilling. Faced with these ever present alternatives, we obviously have to question our own decisions again and again.


This means that we have special needs and high expectations – that may sound spoiled, but from my standpoint, looking out of my drawer, it seems fairly normal.




So today, for me as a young person, joining the world of work means above all: searching. Searching for myself, searching for challenges, searching for feedback, searching for a purpose, searching for what I can do well and, especially, searching for a job that I do not because I have to, but because I want to.


But searching without finding is no fun at all – I need an employer who can help me. An employer with whom I can be myself and be appreciated accordingly. I need a manager who doesn't just ask, but really wants to know, how I'm doing – and who not only listens to but also understands my answer. I want an employer who doesn't look askance at me when I have a life in addition to my job. I don't want to stand still, but rather progress in my career.


An employer who listens


At Boehringer Ingelheim I work in a team that not only deals with diversity, but that actually wants it to be experienced within the company. Naturally, this includes generational diversity. Instead of being viewed as the colleague with the least work experience, I feel that I am able to make an important contribution to the work in the team with my slightly different perspective on things – and I'm very happy here as a result.


Next to me in the drawer sit many others, some nodding, others not entirely in agreement. When I see that I think that I must find a way to make them all nod – is this all the job of the employer? No. As representatives of Gen Y, we must also be prepared to share our views and stand up for our own needs. But for this, of course, we need an employer who listens, is flexible and who realizes that everyone here has something to say and that it is always worth obtaining a view from the inside.


So, warm greetings from the drawer until you look in next time!

"Representatives of Gen Y are looking for an employer with whom they can be themselves and be appreciated accordingly. "
Denise Hottmann

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