Motivating Generation Y

gen-y.pngThe stereotypes that haunt Generation Y have carried over into today’s workplaces. The generational gap between the Baby Boomers and Generation Y is filled with miscommunication and fallacies. With the elders of Generation Y established in their careers and a high number just entering the workforce, many Baby Boomers and Generation Xers are struggling with how to motivate the Millennials to take pride in their work.

It is common for older generations to criticize younger generations. In 400 B.C., Socrates said, “Our youth have contempt for authority; they show disrespect for our elders.” This illustrates that the negative perception of younger generations is not a new problem. Currently, there is a lack of awareness on what motivates Generation Y.

First, we must define the generations. Smashed in between the Baby Boomers and Millennials is Generation X. The generally accepted timeframes of each generation is Baby Boomers – born 1946-1964; Generation X – born 1965-1979; Generation Y – born 1980-2000. A major factor in the generational conversation is population. The Baby Boomers are often described as the most populous generation with 79 million Americans falling into that category. Generation X is sometimes overlooked due to their small population of only 49 million Americans. The biggest surprise, and what is unbeknownst to many people, is the Generation Y population is nearly as large Baby Boomers with 77 million American Millennials.*

Characteristics of Millennials

Stereotypes are typically based on characteristics of a group. However, the focus is on the negative characteristics and often takes traits of the lowest common denominator and applied to the entire group. This careless grouping of people is dangerous in society and in the workplace. To dispel the stereotypes that plague the Millennials, we will lay out the characteristics of Generation Y and how they have been misconstrued as a negative.


According to the Pew Research Center, Generation Y is on pace to become the most educated generation ever. With an emphasis on post-secondary education from their Baby Boomer and Generation X parents, many Millennials are not satisfied with their high school diploma – they attend college and enroll in apprenticeship training and/or academies to continuously learn. This focus on continual learning is one the reasons why many Millennials are in a rush to climb the ladder.

Multi-tasking Experts

How many times have you seen a young adult walking while holding a conversation, checking Facebook, and responding to a text message? Having this wealth of connectivity at their fingertips has trained Millennials’ brains to focus on multiple things at one time. Of course, there are many negatives that come with the mobile phone. However, focusing on the positives, it provided the ability to quickly research or process new information.


The younger generation is always searching for a way to streamline their work processes. Millennials were raised in a time when new technology can revolutionize a business and then be obsolete the next month. This rapid evolution of technology forces users to be at the forefront of the next best thing. Whether it’s using a new device or tool, they consistently challenge the notion, “That’s the way we’ve always done it.” While in pursuit of a new way of completing their work, these Millennials aim for efficiency instead of daily routines.

People of Generation Y also ask “Why?” That simple question opens the door to evaluate new business methods on a jobsite or in the office.

Motivation Tactics

One of the biggest dilemmas facing today’s business owners i