Gen Y Employees: Your Company’s Most Misunderstood Asset

  • March 20, 2017
  • by:Zeynep Ilgaz

Generation Y is perhaps the most misunderstood generation that has ever entered the workforce. This group has been labeled lazy, entitled, and needy, but this is a terribly inaccurate reputation.

Generation Y includes those born between 1977 and 1992, so it encompasses the ambitious 20-somethings just entering the workforce. As children, they were told they were special and could do anything, but this hasn’t made them lazy — it’s made them ambitious. It has given them high expectations for their careers and themselves.

Many employers shrug off Gen Y as a waste of time and miss out on the many powerful benefits these young people have to offer. My experience with Gen Y has been not only enjoyable, but also highly prosperous.

This generation can invigorate a company, but their needs are not widely understood. They have plenty to offer as employees, but you must focus on utilizing their strengths if you hope to retain them over the long run.

What Makes Gen Y Employees Fabulous Assets

Gen Y brings an entirely new skill set to the workplace that sets these young people apart from any previous generation.

They’re highly productive. Baby Boomers often cite Millennials’ desire to work fewer hours as laziness, but Generation Y isn’t so different from older generations. In a survey by Solutions 21, Baby Boomers and Millennials both selected “hard-working” as the No. 1 quality that makes someone successful.

Gen Yers’ attitude of “work smarter, not harder” is what sets them apart as highly productive and efficient employees.

They’re tech-savvy. Members of Gen Y are tech natives, which is a huge benefit in the workplace. Our company is very active on social media, and we’ve developed an app for several products — all because my Gen Y employees told me that we should. They were right, and these developments have only improved our business.

They are diverse. Genera­tion Y is the most ethnically diverse generation in history, with only 58.9 percent of its members identifying themselves as white. Adding this diversity to our team has brought a wealth of new ideas during brainstorming because of the different backgrounds represented.

They are independent. These people do not need to be micromanaged. You can trust them to get the job done, and they love to take initiative to make new things happen. They want to make a difference and create something from nothing.

What Gen Yers Want

Members of this generation want to work hard, but they want to do it for the right company. They seem picky because they’re driven by passion rather than money, and they want to see purpose in their work. They crave a long-lasting, meaningful work relationship — not a ladder to climb.

“Loyalty is synonymous with job security,” says Sara Holtmeyer, one of our Gen Y sales associates. “It means you see a future together.”

According to Holtmeyer, the Millennial job-hopping that many misinterpret as entitlement is the result of a lack of loyalty and reinvestment from companies. To retain Gen Y employees and show them that your company wants to enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship for years to come, here’s what you should offer.


Work-life balance is essential to Gen Yers, and flexibility in when and where they work helps them strike this balance.

Flexibility also makes them more eager to work because it lends a sense of autonomy. Rigid expectations demotivate young employees and can actually stifle their potential, but a little bit of control goes a long way toward encouraging higher achievement.

Meaningful Work

Gen Yers love meaning in their work, and they love assignments that stretch them. They thrive on expanding their minds and challenging themselves with every task.

“We live for a purpose — to make a difference — and having a job or a position that will allow us to infuse our most precious traits and strategies to grow the company and ourselves is the most satisfying feeling,” says Natalie Garcia, store manager at TestCountry.

Even if a position involves a lot of routine tasks, allow room for creativity when possible, and give your Gen Y employees permission to find more efficient ways to complete assignments. They’ll appreciate the challenge and ultimately feel more fulfilled.


This generation wants to work for companies that are changing and adjusting to current times, especially when it comes to incorporating the latest technology. You don’t necessarily have to go out of your way to use every new gadget or social platform, but if an employee suggests implementing a new tool, why not let her run with it?

Giving Back

Growing up, most Gen Yers had their basic needs met, which allowed them to develop an outward focus. They are big on volunteering and value companies that give back to the community or work toward a larger purpose.

If you’re unsure how your company can incorporate social responsibility, why not ask? Gen Yers are passionate about causes they find worthwhile, and they’re happy to share what they know with anyone who’s willing to listen.

Whatever you do, don’t underestimate Generation Y. My experience with these young people has been nothing but positive, and yours can be, too. Listen to what they want, and make adjustments where you can. This generation will help your business thrive.

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