Winning the best employees - How to conquer the heart of Generation Y

Leefke Krönke Last updated 25.02.2021
5 Min.
The best employees

For several years now, it has become increasingly difficult for employers to attract young professionals and retain them in the long term. This also applies to talented young professionals from the web design and IT sector. The agency industry in particular is complaining about a lack of motivated and qualified applicants. Today I'll show you what Generation Y has to do with this development and how you, as a small employer, can improve your chances of success in the "War for Talent".

In many industries, the search for suitable employees has become increasingly difficult in recent years. Especially agencies have problemsto position themselves as attractive employers among qualified young applicants.

Today, however, it's not just the well-known companies that pick out the best talents with big salary promises and prestige. Through innovative employee concepts and a convincing vision, more and more startups are attracting qualified young talent. Find out why this works so well in this article.  

"War for Talent" - High demand, low supply

The competition for the best web design, development and IT talent can be explained on the one hand by the fact that the demand for websites, tailor-made programs, apps and the like has increased sharply in recent years.

Employers who do not offer attractive conditions for these hotly contested specialists will sooner or later be left out in the cold.

The skills shortage has another big driver: demographic change. According to a study by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), Germany will have a shortage of almost ten million workers in 2040.

Why you should take Generation Y seriously

With a shortage of skilled workers, qualified candidates in many industries can afford to be choosy about where they work. To attract the best talent, you need to understand the needs of your future employees.

If you want to motivate your (potential) employees and retain them in the long term, you as an employer must understand what is really important to them.

The generation that will dominate the job market in the next few years is Generation Y - also known as "Millennials". Depending on the definition, this includes those born between 1981 and around 2000.

As is the case with all generations, Millennials are also said to have special characteristics. As a rule, these are generalised characteristics based, for example, on reports from teachers and employers, scientific studies or simply a general impression.

Generation Why - Volatile and demanding

Generation Y is described as, among other things, technology-savvy, flexible in terms of location, egotistical, spoiled, fickle and self-confident. In the work context, their desire for constant feedback is also often mentioned.

Because of their characteristic of always wanting to question everything, Millennials are also known as Generation Why referred to as.

Articles and studies from an employer's perspective often echo that Millennials are overly demanding of their jobs compared to their Generation X predecessors.

However, ignoring the supposedly unjustified demands of Generation Y is not a sensible strategy. If you want to continue to attract the best young talent in the future, you should address the needs of Millennials.

What do millennials expect from their employer?

In July 2017 (as part of my master's thesis on employer branding), around 140 Generation Y students and young professionals rated several employer benefits according to their importance.

The results showed that the following things are most important to young Generation Y employees:

  • A committed and cooperative team
  • A fair remuneration
  • Openness to new ideas and feedback
  • Challenging and varied work tasks
  • Chances of a permanent position (e.g. after trainee program)
  • Attractive training and development opportunities
  • Transparency, trust and respect as company values
  • An appreciative and transparent corporate culture
  • Flexible working hours and home office

Sustainability, well-known customers and partners, awards such as "Top Employer" or additional material benefits such as a company car and mobile phone were rated as less important.

Many larger studies come to a similar conclusion: work climate and colleague cohesion are the most important things for Generation Y. In addition, work tasks should be interesting and meaningful, the work-life balance should be right, there should be opportunities for further training and the workplace should be secure.

Winning the best employees - How to conquer the heart of Generation Y

Score with corporate culture and clear values

What can you as an employer learn from these results? Generation Y cannot be convinced with empty phrases and entrenched corporate structures.

If you want to attract qualified millennials, you need an appealing corporate culture and values with which they can identify. Many startups have already understood this.

A study on the topic of cultural fit in the IT industry confirms the importance of culture. The results show, for example, that 95 percent of those surveyed are willing to change jobs because of an inappropriate corporate culture. 70 percent have even changed jobs for this reason.

Authentic values as a differentiating factor

If you haven't yet established company values, you're probably asking yourself right now, "What does my company actually stand for?" Thinking about this is the first step in the right direction.

To find mission statements that are reflected in your company's history, that are authentic, and that your employees can identify with, I recommend the book
"The Meaning of the Company - What Are We Working For?" by Dominic Veken.

Already in the job interview you can check with the right questions whether potential employees really fit into your corporate culture.

Let's assume that one of your values is "unquenchable thirst for knowledge". If you ask your candidates in the interview whether they have a thirst for knowledge, they will probably answer in the affirmative. However, if you ask them when their last training was and which book they read last, you will get much closer to a real "fit".

RAIDBOXES builds on transparency and team spirit

At RAIDBOXES , there are six major values which, together with our Code of Conduct, determine our actions as a company on the one hand and how the entire team works together on the other. The two most important guiding principles are freedom and performance orientation.


We are freedom-loving and self-responsible: with concepts such as Holacracy flexible working hours and home office, everyone has the freedom - but also the responsibility - to make the right decisions in their own area.

Performance orientation

We are performance-hungry and love productivity because we always want to be number one. To be even more productive, we work according to the SCRUM principle, for example. This allows us to launch new features even faster.


Sales figures, financial plans and salaries RAIDBOXES are available to all team members at all times. We always communicate openly and honestly, even in difficult situations.

The company Buffer even goes one step further in this respect: The salaries and their calculation are not only for employees, but but for the whole public to see transparently.


Our goal is to make everything even easier for our customers: as few clicks as possible, as self-explanatory as possible, as fast as possible. Our RAIDBOXES dashboard is also structured according to this principle.


We are experimental and creative, because only by breaking conventions and trying new things can we hold our own against the Goliaths of the hosting world. One example of this is our FREE DEV program for agencies and web designers.


Whether in the team or with customers: Should emotions ever boil over, we remain friendly and understanding. Conflicts within the team are clarified directly and personally in order to resolve tensions immediately.

By communicating these values transparently and reviewing them in the job interview, we increase the chance that applicants will fit in with us and stay with the company for the long term.

The right cultural "fit" between RAIDBOXES and new employees is even more important to us than a complete CV or a top university degree.

Conclusion: Corporate values create a win-win situation

If mutual expectations arise during the job interview that cannot be implemented in reality, high employee turnover is inevitable. The right "fit" between employer and employee can therefore only be achieved if both parties know their needs and communicate them openly.

As an employer, you should be aware that a transparent corporate culture is increasingly becoming a differentiating factor and that you can use it to score points in the "war for talent".

Basically, if you not only communicate your values, but also actively act according to them, you will exactly the employees who fit in with your company.

What is your experience with the search for young talent? Have you ever had problems finding suitable professionals? I look forward to your comments!

As Head of Content Marketing, Leefke always has the RAIDBOXES magazine "wp unboxed", the newsletter & the social media channels in her sights. That's why she always knows the latest developments in the WP community. Unfortunately she is rarely to be found in Münster nowadays. But Hamburg is said to be rather nice too.

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