Managing Gen Y

Managing Gen Y employees is a hotly discussed topics among leaders and HR folks. Much has been written about how they are different from earlier generations (Gen X / Baby Boomers) in their attitudes, behaviours, needs and disposition. BusinessWeek has put out a special report on the subject, which has a few articles that discuss some of the myths and realities of Gen Y employees. One of the articles contains research from a study by Corporate Executive Board covering over 400000 employees. The piece says that “gen Y is not so different after all” and attempts to bust myths like:

It’s all about money for Gen Y

Gen Y isn’t loyal

Gen Y communicates differently

Another article attempts to explore why Gen Y is the way it is. What has contributed to their collective programming?

What do you think? What approaches you are taking for managing Gen Y? Do you think you need we need different approaches for managing Gen Y or is it that intrinsic needs of employees (across generations) are the same?

13 thoughts on “Managing Gen Y

  1. Abhishek

    I will stick my neck out there, and say that the research is wrong. Gen Y has different motivators than others.

    They are not as patient, more quickly bored of doing the same thing repeatedly. Often crave excitement and challenge. Don’t want too much direction and yet if you don’t look out for them, get pissed.

    Think teenager and you’ve pretty much got a Gen Y’er figured out ;o)


  2. Sure! Appreciate your comment.
    Question – do you think Gen X had similar needs when they were in the age-group which Gen Y is in today? Are such needs more related to age-groups, rather than relate more to generational differences?


    • I’m not so sure. I as a Gen-Xer was more focussed on leaving a mark, doing something extraordinary, managing my responsibilities, managing my own costs. The Y’s are different, they have no qualms about continued dependency on parents, they have no qualms about being selfish and doing their own thing. Me FIRST!

      Interestingly enough, at a round table that I was part of, one of the participants mentioned that we’re all Gen Y’s today. The overabundance of choices, the quick-fixes that are available have turned us all in Gen Y’s and I kind of agree with him!

      Great question though!


  3. I think the first person to leave a comment should have atteneded the roundtable the person #2 attended. Not because I completely disagree with their comments, but because I think when you really hear conversations about Gen Y being similar it becomes hard to focus on them being different.

    As my typical question for all who say Gen Y is different. Tell me how? Because they are ambitious… So were the boomers so was Gen X? Because they don’t want to start at the bottom? Who does… I never did? Because they want a challenge and engagement in the workplace? Last I checked HR has been pushing these concepts in the workplace since at least the mid 80’s.


    • The first and the second person who left a comment here is the same!
      I do appreciate your comments, Asaad! One can certainly argue both ways.


  4. My thought is that Gen Y IS different and not necessarily in a good or bad way. If you look at the way that media has changed since Boomers and even since Gen X, I’d say it has a lot to do with programming. With the rapid rise of social media, gaming, etc., they’re programmed by society to be easily bored, to be doing more than one thing at once and to expect a lot. Also, in my last class in college I was told what I should expect from employers. I was told that they should invest in me and that I was worth a minimum of 40K just because of my education. So, I guess what I’m saying is that maybe Gen Y is a case of nurture as opposed to nature.


  5. This is such an interesting topic and one that I blogged about recently because I was so fed up with everyone saying that Millennials are spoiled and don’t know how to work hard.

    I argue that Millennials want to contribute to our organizations and make a difference. But we were raised to participate in the creation of knowledge and content – Wikipedia, YouTube, blogs, etc. Managers can’t expect this generation to blindly accept mandates and information when they were taught to believe that their voice is as important as anyone else’s, including the boss’s.

    You can read the whole post here:


  6. Abhishek, I agree with Ashley’s view, seriously the subject on Gen Y has been blown out of proportion. As a Gen Y member I don’t think that one can’t put the entire Gen Y population in the blame. I think it really depends on a individual how he or she thinks and what actions they choose irrespective of the fact if it’s a Gen Y or Gen X member. I have written a post on this, you might be interested to read it and share your views on it.


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