Understanding the Y Generation

About Gen Y-ers

Generation Y-ers are people who are born in 1980s and early 2000s inclusively (Waterworth, 2013). In this era of globalization, Generation Y-ers tend to be socially and environmentally conscious. They are also prepared to move on when the deal no longer works for them (PrincetonOne & Hobart, 2014). There are issues of miscommunication and misunderstanding when dealing with this emerging generation in the corporate world. Gen Y-ers are boundary-less and globally connected. Besides that, Gen Y-ers have grown up with an inflated self-esteem and the mindset that nothing is impossible is deeply ingrained in them(PrincetonOne & Hobart, 2014). They are usually more creative and have new insights about the world. In order to manage millennials, employers need to understand the needs of Gen Y-ers.

What makes Gen Y-ers remain in your company?

Career Development and Advancement

In today’s fast-paced world, if you refuse to learn, you will definitely LOSE OUT!  This is what Gen Y-ers is worried about. According to Wehrwein, Lujan, and Dicarlo (2014), Gen Y-ers are more concerned about career development and advancement compared to other generations in the current workplace situation. From the report done by Barclays (2014), it was found that 64% of Gen Y-ers in the UK cite ongoing career and personal development as most important to them. Thus, this proves that without a proper managing or guiding of career development in the current corporate setup, it is is hard to retain workers of this generation. Remember, Gen Y-ers don’t work for your company but work for their own career.


Empowering Gen Y-ers is a must! Gen Y-ers wants some authority and instant gratification in their work field (PrincetonOne & Hobart, 2014). Based on a few research in different geographical areas, Gen Y-ers desires to work out on meaningful and interesting tasks(Montana, 2008; PrincetonOne & Hobart, 2014; Spiro, 2006). They prefer challenging tasks rather than repeating the same and easy routine work (PrincetonOne & Hobart, 2014). Furthermore, Gen Y-ers bearing a high expectation from themselves and others, therefore, they want their assignments linked to a more important goal (PrincetonOne & Hobart, 2014). Due to the perception of work “with” organization not work “for” organization, Gen Y-ers tends to be waiting for order to complete their task rather than find the meaning in their task(Barclays, 2014). In addition, they wish to have direct and constructive feedback from their employers to know their strengths and weaknesses(Spiro, 2006).

Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance seems to be an issue the corporate world is dealing with. Long working hours are not favored by Gen Y-ers although money is important to them. They take a serious look at family and community too (Spiro, 2006). They want to spend more time with their family and friends rather than working to earn one’s living. Travelling nowadays has become more common to us compared to the past 2 decades. Gen Y-ers has been raised up in an environment where family vacations are a major feature (Nicole, n.d.). This doesn’t means they are ineffective or lazy, it’s just that they prefer finish their work with just a few clicks (technology). Flexibility of work arrangement, work leave, and spatial flexibility practices of work-life balance have a huge direct impact on organizational outcomes in SMEs(Cegarra-Leiva, Sánchez-Vidal, & Cegarra-Navarro, 2012).

What to do when managing Gen Y-ers?

  1. Make FRIENDS with them

Spending some time with them, listening to them, and trying to understand them will help you a lot in managing this generation of people and improve your company performance. Based on Hansen (n.d.), Gen Y-ers enjoy friendships with co-workers and bosses they consider that as an important part of their career. They are willing to stay longer in jobs simply because they love the people around them.

  1. Make them feel you CARE

To keep the employees’ motivated, engagement of managers is important for them. One of the effective methods to retain Gen Y-ers is coaching (Spiro, 2006). The consistency of coaching motivates new graduates to take on more challenging work (Spiro, 2006). By doing this, Gen Y-ers grab opportunities to reach their potential and extend their creative abilities to the next level. At the same time, coaching helps them identify and understand their weaknesses (Spiro, 2006). On the other hand, constructive and frequent feedback from managers helps employees towards a better understanding of their personal strengths and weaknesses (Spiro, 2006).

  1. Respect them and make them feel they are IMPORTANT

Shared vision should be established in current corporate situations while managers need to spend time to share their vision and goals with Gen Y-ers.  Nevertheless, it’s also important to provide them freedom and flexibility to carry out their job (Barclays, 2014).  This means that they need some authority to carry out their job and have a sense of ownership of their task. Respect is a must for them!

  1. CHALLENGE them with different tasks

Most of them are graduates from college or university with a dynamic mix of academics prepared to show their capabilities. They are not interested in “dull” jobs, or jobs that “pay their dues”; they are willing to accept challenges (Hansen, n.d.). Everything start from small. Here will be a few ways to stimulate Gen-Yers in your company. Focus group discussion may help company get the honest feedback from participant (McQuerrey, n.d.). Therefore, there is no harm to open a door for company member (including Gen Y-ers) to take turn alternatively to lead a group discussion. Besides that, incorporate reverse mentoring can be implemented to providing alternative development and engagement opportunities for Gen Y-ers (Solnet, Kralj, & Kandampully, 2012). To avoid some misunderstanding happen, it does not have to be a formal process, make it like a knowledge sharing session between mentor and mentee(Solnet et al., 2012).

  1. FAMILY, FRIENDS, and COMMUNITIES cannot be neglected

Bear in mind, “Gen Y-ers does not live to work, but works to live”.  They love to socialize. According to Cathy (2014), enhancement of flexibility such as telecommuting, defined work schedule and taking time off is crucial to retain Gen Y-ers in your company. Because many of them are willing to sacrifice a higher salary to have work-life balance as mentioned, some flexible benefit package such as flexi-working hours, compressed working hours, work sharing, telework, and sabbaticals should be implemented. It’s all depend on how you do it and fit into your company culture. A small reminder for you, Gen Y-ers needs time to fellowship with their family and friends and to carry out some community responsibilities.

Why are you hesitating? Put in your effort to manage this powerful generation right now.

Research by Ting Zhi Ning, Morphos International Pte Ltd


  • Barclays. (2014). Talking About My Generation: Exploring the Benefits Engagement Challenge, (September). Retrieved from http://www.wsandb.co.uk/digital_assets/7002/Talking_about_my_Generation_-_embargoed_white_paper_06.09.13.pdf
  • Cathy, L. (2014). Work/Life Balance for the Generations. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/cathy-leibow/worklife-balance-for-the-_1_b_5992766.html
  • Cegarra-Leiva, D., Sánchez-Vidal, M. E., & Cegarra-Navarro, J. G. (2012). Understanding the link between work life balance practices and organisational outcomes in SMEs: The mediating effect of a supportive culture. Personnel Review, 41(3), 359–379. http://doi.org/10.1108/00483481211212986
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