An Inside Look at How Gen Y Views the Workplace

Recruiting the best candidates isn’t always easy. HR outsourcing firms and hiring managers know this. With recent college graduates entering the workforce, different factors are at stake when it comes to making a decision about where to work. Whether you outsource hiring or conduct it in-house, if you’re looking to recruit from Generation Y, you need to understand how they view the workplace and what they’re looking for in an employer so you can ensure your business is a good fit with these recent graduates. Here’s an inside look at how Gen Y views the workplace.


What Generation Y employees value in a company is different from what older generations prefer. Achievers and Experience Inc. found that 54 percent of Gen Y considers career advancement opportunities as the most important when deciding where to work, followed by interesting, challenging work and salary at 51 percent each. A 2010 study conducted by Johnson Controls found that the 45+ workforce lists meaningful work as the most important while Gen Y is ready to engage with companies that provide environments in which they can grow and evolve. Because this generation place such an emphasis on growing as an employee, they’re more likely to work for a company where they are learning, a company that coaches and develops new hires.   


The work environment that Gen Y prefers is different than that of other generations. 79 percent prefer to be mobile rather than static workers and more than 70 percent prefer an urban to slightly urban location. While more than 60 percent of the generation Y prefers a flexible way of working, only less than 25 percent actually expect their employers to offer it. Because Millenials view the workplace as a place to work and socialize, 41 percent of the Millenials prefer to have access to a team space and 32 percent prefer breakout working spaces rather than a conventional meeting room. Johnson Controls also discovered that Generation Y aspires to work in a greener office. Gen Y workers want an open working environment that is eco-friendly and flexible. If your business can’t offer the ideal working environment of Millenials, consider how you can incorporate what they are looking for into your office.


Motivating Gen Y goes beyond the financials. This is a generation of employees that expect quick feedback. 81 percent of the ­Achievers study respondents listed travel rewards (i.e. flight and hotel to a destination) as the most appealing reward program a company could offer, followed by experience rewards at 70 percent. Dr. Bob Nelson, an authority on employee recognition, points out that 89 percent of today’s employees report that recognition is very or extremely important to them. The recognition someone receives for each positive work action can act as a motivator for continued good work. How you listen, question, speak and give feedback are essential to keeping your Gen Y employees motivated.

Gen Y is looking for a challenge when they come to the workplace. Make sure you’re able to offer employees challenging, yet meaningful work. Keep in mind that this is a generation of hyper-connected and social employees. They want to be able to easily collaborate and socialize with colleagues without the worry of a micro-manager’s constant supervision. If you’re looking to hire new employees from this connected generation, make sure your recruiting firm or HR department convey whatever your business offers that most appeals to Gen Y in the job postings. 

Views: 1387

Comment by Scott Corwin on November 21, 2012 at 11:10am

Warning strong opinion and language used below. No insult is meant to the writer of this article.

Wow, am I tired of hearing how companies need to change and bow down to the demands of the next generation. The same generation that wonders why 76% can't find jobs their first year out of school. After all they have been handed everything since birth. This is the same generation that never lost, and everyone got trophies. 

Did anyone else read this article and think - this is all about them getting and little to nothing about the employee being held accountable? 


Addressing issues by paragraph above:

Opening paragraph – What if ‘business’ isn’t a good fit for the Gen Y? When are they going to wake up and adapt to the real world demands? There are many qualified and experienced people out of work and willing to do what is takes to earn a job.


Values – It is naive and insulting for someone to want the “next job” or a promotion before they have even learned or succeeded at the job they are interviewing for. Success should be rewarded and doors are opened after that success is achieved. Does Gen Y really want to learn and grow or simply be promoted because they showed up? Here is something they can learn, maybe for the first time – you need to work hard and smart in life to get ahead. No one is going to hand you what you want without you earning it. And by the way, earning it will add directly to your happiness and life fulfillment.


Environment – 79% want to be mobile, but have not earned the trust. Nor do they have the knowledge or basic understanding of the job. I thought they want an environment they can learn from and grow. How can they get that if they don’t want to be around those that can help and teach? They want to work and socialize but won’t put in the effort to accomplish the work and again earn the right to socialize. I do believe in building teams and social interaction creates stronger teams. Each team member needs to be a productive and effective team member.  Going green is good for everyone – it has nothing to do with changing for Gen Y.


Motivation – If I were to take this sectional literally – pay Gen Y minimum wage but offer trips and nice hotels as bonuses. I have not found that to be the case.


Conclusion – This is the sentence that encouraged me to write the my comments.

 “They want to be able to easily collaborate and socialize with colleagues without the worry of a micro-manager’s constant supervision. Translation – Gen Y wants to have fun and socialize without ANY accountability. Why get caught up in the details of having to work. I have to get back to my social media accounts – people are waiting for me.


No I am not bitter or angry although my words above sound like I am. I am simply tired of these types of articles that try and educate us on the next generation. When in fact, it is the next generation that needs educating. 

Comment by Jim Murphy on November 21, 2012 at 11:22am

Hi Scott,

Excellent points you have made and I tend to agree with you.

An awful lot has been written about the Gen-Y and it seems a lot of it is based upon interpretation of Gen-Y survey responses rather than any real indepth study. Is Gen-Y an actual phenomenon or just a cultural meme being promoted by 'experts' scratching around for their 15 minutes in the spotlight I sometime wonder?

That said, there are significant differences now to when I entered the workforce in 1983 but principally the differences revolve around the velocity of change, the availability of information and the technology to manage both the change and the information. Businesses still need to be profitable and in order to do so, they need to be managed, perferably well managed in order to prosper which in turn should translate into benefits for employees and the wider economy.

The line in the article that really stood out for me was "While more than 60 percent of the generation Y prefers a flexible way of working, only less than 25 percent actually expect their employers to offer it.", which really implies that the article reads more like a 'wish list' than a phenomenon. I am sure if we were to ask any Gen 45+ what they would like, it might well read very similar.

Those with drive and ambition will continue to succeed whatever their generation.



Comment by Erica Bell on November 21, 2012 at 11:58am

Hi Scott and Jim,

Thank you both for your comments. This article is not about how businesses should be bending as this generation enters the workforce. It is, however, an article as to how Gen Y views the workplace. As they become the majority workforce in future years, there is a strong possibility that this is what the workplace could become.  As Gen Y becomes older, and as individuals develop into company leaders, these "wish-list" items could be the reality.  

Just some additional thoughts.

- Erica

Comment by Sandra McCartt on November 21, 2012 at 12:26pm
Dear Santa,
Please bring me a fun job where I can work from where ever I want to without the irritation of a boss looking over my shoulder. Additionally I would need to know in advance that I will be promoted rapidly, be able to check my Facebook, twitter and personal email to stay connected. Oh and Santa, please understand that I require work/life balance ,good benefits and a green environment. Santa, I love to travel so the job should offer lots of bonus travel opportunities but I simply can't travel as part of my job.

And most of all Santa, my job can't seem like frustrating work. I will need to feel that my every waking moment is challenging and meaningful. Yes, I know that since time immemorial my elders have been looking for a career change with a challenge, but remember Santa, I am "special". You have always brought me everything I have ever asked for so of course I still believe in you, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy so I'm counting on all of you to deliver as you always have.

I would have left you milk and cookies but being concerned about weight, lactose intolerance, too much sugar, factory farmed eggs, farm subsidies and animal welfare I opted for organic carrots. Merry Christmas, I will be in Hawaii for the holidays so will not be able to start until jan. 8th so please leave my offer letter under the tree. I will sign and return it after I have an attorney review it to be sure it is not too favorable to my new employer. No non compete please. I can't limit myself being burdened by one of those should I find something better in six months.
Comment by Sandra McCartt on November 21, 2012 at 12:39pm
Dear kiddo,

I have reviewed your dear Santa letter. The only suggestion I have for you to have what you are looking for is to open your own recruiting firm.

A word of warning, however, if you don't work your butt off nights, weekends and holidays for at least the first five years you will starve in the dark.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I left the carrots, they will keep you from going blind reading resumes. I am having a glass of Dom. All these years of recruiting And training elves and reindeer to be sure jobs like the one you have asked for are delivered, have made me stress related fat but at least I can afford the Dom. Good Luck, let me know in five years how you feel about new grads who think they are ready to manage general motors or do the tax planning for Exon.
Comment by Amy Ala Miller on November 21, 2012 at 3:15pm

Gen Y views the workplace like this NOW. Then Gen Y will get married, have a few kids, a mortgage, probably get promoted. Then Gen Y will look at their new, younger employees and wonder if they were ever that unrealistic.


Then again, as Sandra points out there's always recruiting. :)

Comment by Sandra McCartt on November 21, 2012 at 4:35pm

What i truly cannot figure out about about Geny and even Z is why they walk around all the time sucking out of water bottles.  Are they freeze dried, or what.  If they do not hydrate themselves every five minutes are they going to shrivel into shadows of them former selves.  Previous generations knew that folks who walk around with a roader in their hand all the time are drunks.  Is this an addiction to H2O or what?  Can they not make it from point A to point B without a water fix?  Without a smartphone and a water bottle they are doomed.

Comment by Alasdair Murray on November 23, 2012 at 9:57am

Gen Y wants this, Gen Y says that. I'm tired of all the talk about Gen Y and pandering to their needs in the workplace, the poor lambs. Adapt to the working environment you find yourself in rather than expect a whole organisation to change on your behalf. If I'd have made half the fuss back in my youth I'd have been kicked up the ass quicker than you could say "how's that for baby booming?" Get with the programme! The world does not revolve around you and your needy, want it all now, needs. (glaring face smiley)

Comment by Alasdair Murray on November 23, 2012 at 10:00am

PS I wish we;d had the web back in my youth. my demands would have been simple -more chicks and less heartache. Work was just something we did in between and dealt with whatever we were faced with.

Comment by Raphael Fang on November 23, 2012 at 12:19pm
Do the Gen Y knows what the employers want from them?


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