Anecdotal evidence declares that Millennials, the so-called “Me Generation” born between 1982 and 1999, are interested in altruistic work that has meaning.  Other anecdotes tell us that Millennials want meaningful work.  Now, recent research published in the Journal of Management suggests otherwise.  Should managers adapt recruiting, hiring, training, and management styles to fit the “new” employee?


  • Valued extrinsic rewards more than Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) but less than GenX (born between 1965-1981) — Easy Street
  • Value intrinsic rewards less than other generations
  • No more (or less) altruistic than previous generations
  • Value social interactions at work less than other generations
  • Value leisure time more than previous generations — Lazy Way

Do these new conclusions imply that management techniques for Millennials must be different?

Millennials want more leisure time than their predecessors and they want to be paid handsomely for it too.  How does this expectation compare with reality?  In an increasingly global economy those with poorer standards of living may be expected to live by corollary rules – work more for less.   Just because Millennials want more for less, doesn’t mean they will get it.  Instead, history suggests that world events will change the generation more than the generation will change the world.  GenX’ers witnessed new lows in corporate ethics while Boomers survived Watergate.  Millennials are growing up in the midst of the Great Recession.

Recession or not, management techniques that focus on helping people achieve their personal goals while attaining business goals still suffice.  As I have posted previously, when managing people the most important keys are to unlock their sense of purpose, mastery, and autonomy.  There is no need to coddle this new generation, just as there was no need to coddle the Boomers.

For those trying to determine how (if?) they should change their management techniques to adapt to a new workforce, the pivot point (the answer) is a resounding “no.”  Andrew McAfee comes close to reality in his post Millennials Won’t Change Work; Work Will Change Millennials.

What do you think?

Millennials – Don’t Believe the Hype
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2 thoughts on “Millennials – Don’t Believe the Hype

  • 24 February 2011 at 18:07

    Andrew, you ask: “Do these new conclusions imply that management techniques for Millennials must be different?”

    I would say that the disciplines that management is trying to engender stay the same, as you argue, but counter that yes, the techniques must be different. You define the technique by its outcome–people “achieve their personal goals while attaining business goals.”But I wonder if the techniques to achieve those outcomes must be adapted to the context of Gen Y?

    Here is a response of sorts to what you wrote, which I am using as a launching point for defining the disciplines that remain constant. These disciplines may be different from those you would suggest, but I think we agree that they are not new (just the methods of developing them, possibly.)


    • 24 February 2011 at 18:39

      Joanna, thanks for the response and the link to your post!

      You raise an interesting point about context. I think of the answer in relation to the strategic and global forces at play in the labor market (fewer boundaries, most people worse off than their US and European counterparts, etc.). So anything we do to perpetuate the idea that Millennials are entitled to different treatment puts them at a disadvantage.

      In response to your question of “… I wonder if the techniques to achieve those outcomes must be adapted to the context of Gen Y?” I would say no. It is more likely that the socio-economic forces of a changing world will mold Gen Y than the other way around. I fear those who act otherwise will face extinction.


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