Generation gap: Millennials at work

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This is the last installment of our 3-part series on 3 generations of workers. This week, we’ll look at Generation Y, mostly known as Millennials.

Millennials were born between 1981 and 1994

Technology is an intrinsic part of their lives. Unlike previous generations, they’ve never experienced a time without computers, cell phones and Internet, and even more so for Millennials born in the 90’s.

With the advancement of Internet came an unprecedented access to information and global connectivity. Millennials use it as a learning platform.

This generation was exposed to more group interactions through playgroups, team sports and other group activities. Leaving the kids to fend for themselves after school became a big no-no.

Millennials have also experienced tougher economic times and a changing workplace. Some entered the workforce in 2008, amidst the worst financial crisis since 1929 and the Great Depression. Overall, they face growing unemployment, stagnant wages and the disappearance of pension plans.


Generation Y is prone to communicating via electronic devices and is capable of multi-tasking while carrying a text messaging conversation. They rely on technology to live their lives and expect it to be available 24/7.

This generation is achievement-oriented and is confident. They will question authority without fear and challenge ideas and motives.

Most Millennials are also very team-oriented and want to pursue various interests and ventures outside of work. They want the time to do so.

At work

The working style of Millennials is vastly different from previous generations. It can create a lot of confusion and misunderstandings in the workplace.

Most Millennials are great team-player and it’s a strong asset for any employer. They seek positive reinforcement from others and believe no one should be left behind. They will slow a process down to give a teammate the opportunity to catch-up.

Although money is important, this generation is primarily motivated by benefits, particularly time-off and flexible schedules. They’re willing to take a pay-cut to have those. Millennials work to live, they don’t live to work.

Nevertheless, they also expect a lot from their employers, particularly in terms of advancement and mentoring.

A few tips if you work with a Millennial

  • Focus on end-results rather than schedules, dress codes and processes
  • Give them challenging and varied work
  • Offer flexibility and additional time-off: it doesn’t mean you have to pay for these
  • Be more of a mentor than a boss
  • Give them adequate recognition and feedback


All 3 generations of workers have something to contribute. They may sometimes look like polar opposites, but we think they’re actually complementary.

With this series, we hope you understand each generation better, and it will make your working life easier.

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