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Generation Y Characteristics in the Workplace: What You Need to Know
Work Wellness

Generation Y Characteristics in the Workplace: What You Need to Know

|Jul 9, 2021

Millennials: the most misunderstood generation. With more education than any generation before them, yet officially the most broke, it’s no wonder Generation Y characteristics have a different approach to the workplace.

Generation Y characteristics (currently aged between 25-39) are well documented, often in a fairly negative light, but what people don't always appreciate as much is how essential this age group is to the future of business. With baby boomers wading in the waters of retirement and Gen X pushing 50, Millennials (Gen Y), who have the best knowledge of modern technology and how to implement it, are soon going to be in charge.

Failure to understand Generation Y personalities and their influence on your workplace is detrimental to the future success of your company.

Generation Y Traits

There are a few words that automatically spring to mind when you hear the word “millennials,” but pre-conceived notions are not a sensible way to lean. Instead, look at both sides of the coin for a better understanding.

Millennials are entitled

millennials are entitled

This is the first thing most people have to say about Gen Y, and they are not wrong. What is wrong is thinking that entitlement and laziness are the same things. Millennials believe their opinion is important and that it should be heard; a smart business owner sees this as an opportunity to find valuable insight, not a nuisance.

Listening to these opinions and recognizing that a new way of thinking is often the best way to motivate Gen Y staff members. They feed off of interaction and reassurance from superiors, so this type of communication is highly beneficial.

Commitment to self is more important than loyalty

commitment to self

Although it sounds selfish - another perceived generation Y characteristic- being committed to self-progression over a place of work is almost essential in this day and age. This generation may have had it easy in a lot of ways, but advancing in the workplace is not one.

There are more in-debt, highly educated, and over-qualified 30-year-olds than history has ever known. If they feel their skill set is move appreciated elsewhere and see an opportunity for forward momentum, that is where they have to go.

Loyalty may have been the primary concern for workers 20 years ago, but this is not the same world as back then. If you don’t understand this, you are going to lose valuable team members.

They do not respond to repetitiveness or redundancy.

respond to repetitiveness

Generation Y characteristics or personalities crave efficiency. They grew up with unlimited access to instant information and communication at their fingertips and have been conditioned to look for the fastest, easiest solution.

This should not be construed as short-cutting or an unwillingness to follow procedure, although it can come across in such a way at times. If you insist on maintaining outdated, inefficient ways of doing things, you can expect pushback from millennial staff, manifesting in a lack of motivation and low productivity.

Asking for thoughts on new ways to approach tasks is not pandering or compromising: it is intelligent business practice.

Traditional balance is not enough.

traditional balance

Millennials do not simply want a healthy work/life balance. They do not want to work themselves into the ground, nor do they want to spend their life at home; they want to integrate both sides into one seamlessly flowing way of living. On top of that, they expect to be provided with the flexibility to achieve it.

You may be thinking, "Should I shine their shoes as well!?" but it is not as unachievable as it sounds. If the past couple of years have taught the business world anything, it is the value of a hybrid work model. Before the pandemic, it was less common, but now that people have seen how efficient it can be and how much better their quality of life is, it is here to stay.

Generation Y as well as Generation Y characteristics is a complicated age group. Baby boomers were family-focused: Gen X was all about the career, but millennials want both. Is that demanding? Sure! Is it wrong? Absolutely not.

Pros and Cons of Generation Y Employees


  • Modern thinking that can revolutionize your business
  • Very dedicated if properly motivated
  • Tech-savvy
  • Not afraid to challenge the norm and try new things
  • Information driven and hungry for momentum


  • Likely to leave if they don’t get what they need
  • Can be rebellious against decisions they believe to be outdated
  • Require more time and attention than the previous generation
  • Expect flexibility

Getting the Most out of Millennials in the Workplace

the most out of millennials

Generation Y characteristics lend themselves perfectly to a hybrid team or other flexible workplace trends. They should be the base you build from when planning a strategy. The hybrid work office environment is fluid by nature, which is the ideal environment for Gen Y in workplace success.

Here are some tips for working with millennials and creating the most productive working environment:

  • Create a strong office culture where collaboration is encouraged
  • Offer regular feedback and support and let them know how they are doing
  • Take advantage of tech-knowledge
  • Be open to new ways of working and as for opinions
  • Keep up to date with your team’s mindset to avoid unrest
  • Integrate hybrid work strategies
  • Acknowledge impressive employees and keep progression on the table
  • Do not dismiss modernizing ideas

Final Thoughts

What Generation Y values above all else is the freedom to be who they are and express what they believe. This applies to all paths in life, and the workplace is no exception.

Millennials may be dismissed as lazy, selfish, and entitled with no understanding of what hard work really is, but the reality is different. They are empowered, educated, and passionate about what they think and feel. Most of all, they believe in working smarter, not harder, to achieve success and balance.

Gen Y is essential: businesses cannot thrive without them on board. Understanding Generation Y characteristics and how to appreciate them is the key to a successful future. With the right motivation and cultivation, millennial workers have all the tools to revolutionize modern business and take over the world.

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