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Leaders in Zero Liquid Discharge.

This topic never fails to provide adequate fuel for quips on social media: the comparison between baby boomers and Generation Z. The first are grafters – the others, free spirits. But is it really true that baby boomers are workaholics while Gen Zers are rebellious? We will get to the bottom of these clichés today: with an example from H2O.

For those who don't exactly know what this is all about: here is a small summary of the clichés from the internet about the differences between the generations (please read with tongue in cheek):

Baby boomers are workhorses who sacrifice their free time for the company. Bosses are authorities who do not get contradicted. Reputation and respect are gained through diligence and a dedicated career. The most important issues: economy, community and prosperity. Born from 1946 to 1974.

Generation Z sees things differently: leisure and health are more important to them than work. Respect goes to those who make their dreams come true. Hierarchies? They don't give a damn – their young opinion counts just as much. The most important issues: health, freedom and the environment. Born from 1996 to 2012.

But now let's get into things in practice. We interview our H2O colleagues:


Baby boomer Ursula Wagner – affectionately known as Ursel – has been with H2O for 25 years. She introduced accounting in H2O when it was a young start-up and was thus involved from the start. She has actually already entered retirement – but she enjoys the work so much that she is still there. She says: "It's a nice job. They're great, young people here – that keeps me young!"


Gen Zer Klaudia Myrto, an apprentice industrial clerk at H2O for almost 2 years now, currently in marketing, always surprises us with her creativity and natural affinity for social media and topics. When this article was proposed, she was immediately very enthusiastic, and also wants to post it straight onto Insta and LinkedIn.

Application procedures – what were your beginnings like?

Baby boomer Ursel: That was straightforward for me. It started with a phone call from the boss at half past nine in the evening. He asked if I wanted to get involved. I thought: Well, it can't hurt to try.

Gen Zer Klaudia: It was easy for me too. I never wrote an application. After my student internship at H2O, I received an invitation to a job interview from the trainer via WhatsApp. The conversation was very casual and pleasant. I was asked if I thought I was up to it and how I envisioned an apprenticeship. I was then immediately accepted during the interview still.

Make sacrifices for work? What is the workload like?

Baby boomer Ursel: At that time, I still had small children at home and therefore regularly took work home with me because the working time in the office was not enough. I was happy to do that – we were all pulling in the same direction and there was great cooperation! And, I have to say, we really managed to introduce a great accounting structure right from the start, which really saved us a lot of subsequent work later on. Now that the company is large, the work is more specific and better distributed among several people. I no longer do day-to-day business but devote myself to more complex bookings, e.g., in the areas of tax, subsidiaries and foreign business. So, I usually go home on time and have my free time just for me.

Gen Zer Klaudia: Honestly, I think work is for working hours and not for leisure time. As a trainee, you have fixed, legally regulated working hours, and great importance is attached to this here at H2O. So, I'm also not allowed to work overtime. I am flexible though as well: for example, I am currently getting my driving licence and am allowed to come in a little later in the morning or leave a little earlier because of the driving lessons. In return, I then stay longer sometimes, for example, when there is a trade fair coming up, or I help with events on the weekend. As long as things are balanced, I find tasks like these really exciting and I like doing them.

Special tasks – what do you think about those?

Baby boomer Ursel: Oh, that was normal back in the day. I've even shovelled snow in front of our hall before.

Gen Zer Klaudia: I've also sometimes washed the company cars when nothing else was going on, and we trainees are responsible for filling up the drinks in the kitchens. That's part of the deal. In return, we get good initial training for the tasks in the departments and also have our own projects that we take over on our own responsibility, such as looking after the company's Insta channel, for example.


Baby boomer Ursel: That's a big difference between back then and now – also because of the size of the company, of course, and what a start-up company is able to afford. Back then, we just got a commensurate salary for our performance. And fun company parties! I remember a Christmas party in a wine tavern. We did a Secret Santa, there were anecdotes of the year, there were even awards – I won the "skinflint" award. We made raclette and very pragmatically hooked up 6 devices to one extension cable. When we wanted to start, of course, the fuse tripped. It was a fun night! I have always really enjoyed the atmosphere – to this day.

Gen Zer Klaudia: I think it's nice that there are benefits that you can also take with you into your private life, such as sports collaborations, like Hansefit and the Maxx gym, which I already use. And the free drinks, of course – right in line with our motto of #Stay Hydrated! What's more, I even have a pension as a trainee.

Hierarchy: Is the boss more of a colleague or an authority? Are you on first name terms? Do you tell them what you think?

Baby boomer Ursel: My boss and I stayed addressing each other more formally for a long time. And when he offered to switch to first name terms after years, it was really hard for me to do that. However, cooperation has always been a top priority. We told each other when we didn't agree with something. That is still the case today. It's important to treat both the boss and colleagues with respect.

Gen Zer Klaudia: Definitely an authority. I address my bosses formally, and would find anything else strange as well. When it comes to the topic of "expressing an opinion", I am more of a reserved person. That is probably a question of what type of person you are, not a question of your generation. I only say my opinion when it's really important, and then I do so in a nice way so as not to hurt anyone.

What do you view as being the strengths of the other generation?

Baby boomer Ursel: I admire Generation Z for their intuitive approach to social media and technology in general. They deal with these soon-to-be-daily innovations much more naturally. On top of that, they are self-confident. No one used to dare to utter a "but" or "I don't think that's good", at least not during training or to a superior. A lot has changed there today, which I very much welcome. Outdated structures are thereby pointed out, for example, and I am happy to receive new ideas from a "zoomer".

Gen Zer Klaudia: The baby boomers are hardworking, and work is important to them. They like regulated processes, but they are also relaxed, open, and happy to help you. You can also learn a lot from them: they have a lot of experience and are empathetic, even when it comes to solving problems and cheering you up when something didn't go so well.

What does a future worth living look like for you?

Baby boomer Ursel: For me, a future worth living is staying fit and healthy for a long time to come. As for the world, I hope that the volatile situation in the numerous war zones around the globe will alleviate, and that insight and reason will, ultimately, take precedence. What's more, I would like to see more awareness of climate protection worldwide – but I am in good spirits, because the young people are leading us by example – they are fighting for their future!

Gen Zer Klaudia: For me, a future worth living means having time. It means not having to do everything at once, but being able to go through the day stress-free. Worth living means having a job you enjoy going to. I want a stable, safe life. Without worrying about the future and how to manage the next month. Also, I want to have people in my life who make me happy.




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