Investigating the State of Happiness of Generation Y/Millennial Members

Investigating the State of Happiness of Generation Y/Millennial Members: Insights into Engaging the Unique Cohort


Case in focus: The Dilemma of the Young Project Manager

Prof. (Dr.) Debashish Sengupta

Alliance University School of Business

Bangalore, India

Literature Review

Myths & other Researches on Gen Y/Millennial

There are varied myths and partial projections that have been propagated about the nature of Gen Y. It is perceived that Gen Y delay making major decisions, like having children or buying a home (Taylor). Generation Y, the Millennial, are knocking on our doors. They are educated, connected, technologically advanced, and productive. However, they come with an unprecedented sense of entitlement and self-worth that existing field managers and employees find exasperating (Herbison & Boseman, 2009).

Gen Y are also seen as not saving enough for retirement, not know where to begin the saving s process, and they are seen as finding the process confusing and difficult (Bridgeford). The stereotype propagated of Gen Y as workers racing home at five in the evening and working late at night from their Blackberries is but a tired caricature. The truth is, a higher percentage of Gen Y workers strive to impress the boss, arrive earlier, work later, and take on extra responsibilities than their older peers (Laff). Again, Gen Y employees have often been negatively identified as demanding and self-serving, but research shows that if managed well, they can be a rich source of high-performing talent with the added ability to use technology like a second language. They can perform myriad tasks across a number of business disciplines, and many are willing to live just about anywhere as long as the job and company are ‘fun’ (Schnorbach).

Gen Yers have been accused of having a misguided notion of superiority; one who look at work-life balance with less of former and more of latter; a generation that has outrageous sense of dressing and least respect for timeliness; one who are naturally skeptical, always believing that can do anything; and the ones who are too busy watching MTV, tweeting, blogging, and texting, all at the same time (COLLINS, 2010).

While in reality, Generation Y is highly responsive to experiential strategies (Sullivan and Heitmeyer). Though individuals within generation Y may have different traits, the shared experiences of its members impact attitudes and perspectives across the group (Yeaton). It’s also been studied that Generation Y is particularly vulnerable to the future economic downturn (Lim). Millennial employees ‘job hop’ because of attitudes and ideals shaped by their upbringing. Gen Y have parents taught them they’re special, that they can do anything, and as such should not settle for any less than what they deserve (Pace). Millennials on their part have grown up at a time when the future of social security benefits has been in doubt. In addition, they’ve also heard their parents ‘generation express anxiety about saving enough for retirement. In short, they struggle with the problem of how to make a living, live a satisfying life and save for the future, all at the same time (Willmer).

Gen Y’s story is not all irritation and conflict. The generation is also heralded as smart, eager and technologically savvy (Williamsan, 2010). In characterizing Gen Y employees, they are seen as smart, opinionated, and have grown up with a multitude of choices. They aren’t afraid to challenge management and are willing to confront the status quo (Walen). Gen Y also seeks the best health care and retirement benefits employers can provide, as well as defined career paths (Isom-rodriguez). The traditional perception that Gen Y is only money driven has been proved to be a myth. Generation Y’ers have an aggressive approach towards pay packages, expectations of a work/family life balance, quick rise up the corporate ladder, and lack of employer loyalty (Conference & Incentive Travel, 2008). Most Gen Y members tend to believe their time is their money (Butler). Management wants more and better work out of every Gen Y-er and for their part. Gen Y-ers are looking to earn more of what they need and want (Tulgan, Managing in the new workplace, 2009).

For Gen Y, remuneration isn’t the only important consideration they weigh while accepting a job. The key features that attract Gen Y are listed as professional growth and development, work-life balance, variety, social interaction, responsibility, input and reward, and recognition (Twyford). Gen Y also place higher value on the opportunity to build trust-based relationships, the potential to work flexibly, and career development over steady employment (Read). Gen Y employees interviewed opine that a flexible work schedule was one of their top requests when applying for jobs (Robbins). Gen Y demand work/life balance, are technologically savvy and competent. They also know how to get the job done anywhere, anytime (Levine). Gen Y places a high value on having enough flexibility to pursue hobbies and interests outside of work (Downs). Gen Y wants to have the best of both the worlds – a promising career and a social life and believe it is possible to have a social life outside of one’s work life without a compromise on career (Sokolowski).


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About the Author

Dr. Debashish Sengupta

Alliance School of Business, Alliance University

Bangalore, India



Dr. Debashish Sengupta
is a Professor in Organizational Leadership & Strategy Area at Alliance School of Business, Alliance University, Bangalore (India). Dr. Debashish Sengupta is the author of a Crossword bestseller book – ‘Employee Engagement’ (Wiley India, 2011). The book has been cited by KPMG in its report ‘Post Merger People Integration’ (2011). He has also authored four other books – ‘Business Drama’ (Zorba, 2014), ‘Human Resource Management’ (Wiley India, 2012) ‘You Can Beat Your Stress’ (Excel Books, 2007) and ‘FMI’ (Excel Books, 2010). He has been a book reviewer for the prestigious Emerald Group Publishing, London (U.K.). He is an avid researcher and has won best paper awards and best young researcher award for his research works. He occasionally writes columns, articles and case studies for reputed business publications. He writes a professional blog on people engagement – http://www.peopleengagement.blogspot.in/ Dr. Sengupta is a much sought speaker at various business forums and a resource person in several MDPs, corporate training programs. His invited talk on ‘Engaging Gen Y’ for the entire HR fraternity of Tata Consultancy Services, Bangalore was contributory in design of a Gen Y policy of the company. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @d_sengupta