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At the HART

Generations change – we need to change too

Every generation has its own rules in the workplace. HARTMANN Talent Manager Michael Wohlstein and Franziska Seiler, member of HARTMANN’s Junior Company YoungTalents, tell us how to rethink the way we approach the young leaders of tomorrow.

A new generation is coming. And organisations that refuse to ride the wave will miss out on the adventure ahead and on the opportunity to help build the leaders of tomorrow.

“HARTMANN has grown over the last 200 years and it’s been our employees that helped us come this far. But if we want to keep on going further, we need to rethink how to approach young people to get them on board”, says Michael Wohlstein, talent manager with the HARTMANN GROUP.

Young surfers running into the ocean with surf boards in their hands.
Gen Z: making waves

“As head of the talent management team at the HARTMANN GROUP, I can only embrace the great, young talents coming into our organisation. These young people will bring new ways to develop healthcare solutions and services, consumer products designed with a social purpose in mind and a growing sense of fulfilment to help move the world forward”, says Michael. “But to get them on board we have to understand their demands and needs.”

Researchers have spent years analysing the Millennials (Generation Y), those born in the early 80s to mid-90s. And now, with new data on Generation Z (born in 1995 or later), the conversation has shifted to focus on the vast differences between the two groups.

“It is said that Generation Z is the most multicultural generation. They are technologically adept and are remarkably mature for their age”, explains Michael. “On the other side, their consumer behaviour is driving businesses to rethink how they reach young audiences: Snapchat or Sit-In? Their communication style differs a lot from other groups.”

Gen Z has an affinity for multi-tasking on multiple screens and prefers a variety of channels for getting information. They’re looking for more visual and snack-sized data that provides instant gratification. And unlike millennials, they see the importance of disconnecting from their screens.

But, above all, they want to be seen as knowledgeable. And they demand challenges and responsibility.

Franziska Seiler and Michael Wohlstein smiling into the camera
Franziska Seiler and Michael Wohlstein
If they demand responsibility, give them responsibility

Despite their differences, both generations share three core values: work to make an impact, work with a purpose, and work with those who have a passion for what they do. That’s why Franziska Seiler decided to join the HARTMANN team as an apprentice in 2016.

Franziska is 23 years old and part of HARTMANN’s YoungTalents Junior Company, an internal firm at HARTMANN run by apprentices and students. It gives HARTMANN’s younger colleagues the chance to take risks in a controlled environment, learning how to manage themselves in different teams, and the innerworkings of a business. YoungTalents run their own HARTMANN shop and provide internal business services.

As an apprentice at HARTMANN, Franziska switches departments every three to four months. Currently, she is a member of the Management Board of Young Talents. “As Chief Executive, I’m in charge of supervising all business processes. This includes execution and quality management of assignments and projects run by Young Talents, as well as accounting for business services and human resources development.”

“Right from the start, I had full responsibility for the tasks I’ve been given”, Franziska remembers. “Working independently and delivering results in time are essential for my daily business. That was a challenge for me and still is today, but at the same time, I grow with it and it motivates me to go the extra mile.”
Members of the YoungTalents sitting together talking
The Management Board of HARTMANN's YoungTalents (from left to right: Alicia Bender, Michelle Gerstner, Maria Öchsle, Franziska Seiler)
Meaningfulness instead of money

Being part of the HARTMANN team for one and a half years, Franziska found out what matters most for her in work life. “Besides supporting colleagues and a pleasant working atmosphere, it’s meaningfulness that’s the most important part for me. Knowing that the work I do every day really serves a meaningful purpose fills me with a great sense of satisfaction. And it makes work more fun.”

“They are looking to make an impact, and want to work for a company that gives them an opportunity to do so”, says Michael. So instead of emphasising salary when talking to Gen Z, focus on career advancement opportunities, a strong sense of culture, and other values that aren't tied to money. While 42 percent of Gen Y said money would “motivate them to work harder and stay with their employer longer,” that number fell to 28 percent for Gen Z.

The younger generation’s mindset has shifted. But the truth is, every generation brings its own personality and set of rules. For Gen Z, the rules come sprawled across three screens, on two devices, but for one purpose: change the world we live in. It’s our task to listen, understand and give them the opportunity to add their skills and perspective into the company’s mindset.

Now it’s our turn: are we eager to go further for this next generation?
About HARTMANN's 200-year anniversary

In 2018, HARTMANN is celebrating its 200-year anniversary. We are now counting down to our anniversary celebration in June 2018 through a series of articles that show how our employees and partners contribute to advancing healthcare, as well as discussing trends and issues that affect the healthcare systems we serve.