Gen Y to the haters: We don’t like you either

by HCA29 Oct 2013

Generation Y make up a third of the workplace, and they are the most maligned demographic – but the generation conflict isn’t one-directional.

The baby boomers and Gen Xers who make up the bulk of managers in Australian organisations might be scratching their heads at their Millennial charges, but the confusion and disconnect is a two-way street.

According to a recent survey of all three generations in the workplace from American Express and Millennial Branding, misunderstandings, dislikes and conflict abound in an uncomfortable office three-way.

Some of the findings have shown:
•    Gen Y found Gen X “annoying and aggressive.”
•    Gen X said Boomers are “have difficulty giving up control,” while Gen Y said Boomers “live to work rather than work to live.”
•    Boomers described Gen X as “loners” who “lack patience.”
•    Gen X contended Gen Y “think they know everything.”


Key HR takeaways
So, how can you overcome these conflicts? While forging mutual understanding is the most beneficial goal, managers can kick off the process by applying the following to their Gen Y staff:

  • Provide training. Gen Y, more than any other generation, want guidance. Providing them with a strong grounding of training – and continual feedback – will help them understand where the older generations are coming from, as well as settle them in more to the working world.
  • Understand their priorities. Gen Y seek greater work/life balance. While some may feature entrepreneurial desires and a drive to progress, the majority want to be able to enjoy life outside of work. To a point, managers must relinquish and understand this is the attitude this generation adopts towards work. Providing flexibility is important.
  • Acknowledge and reward. While it would be unrealistic to be giving cash rewards for every accomplishment, Gen Y are driven by a feeling of contribution. Simply acknowledging their contribution verbally or written will help drive productivity. This can be applied to other generations as well.
  • Create meaning. Gen Y are not interested in working simply for the benefit of a shareholder. It is important to demonstrate to Gen Y the impact their work is having on the community more broadly.


  • by Alice M 29/10/2013 3:13:59 PM

    It's nice to see something that works both ways for once - thank you.

  • by Grant 29/10/2013 4:04:01 PM

    This is a fascinating article and I am not entirely surprised that generational difference can produce complications. I note that the solutions offered are specifically targeted at Gen Ys however given that Gen Xs and Babay Boomers are likewise struggling to handle the generational differences, it would have been nice to proffer solutions for each of the generations.

  • by Deborah 29/10/2013 4:55:51 PM

    Great. Yet another article telling Gen X and Baby Boomers what they need to do for Gen Y. How about an article telling Gen Y what they need to do for Gen X & Baby Boomers? A good start would be to stop with the "I'm so entitled" attitude and put in a solid days work without expecting a gold star and validation for turning up to work on time.

    It's great the Gen Y want/expect more of a work/life balance, but having worked with Gen Y, it sure seems to be more "life" than "work" balance that they're expecting - and at top dollar too.

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