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Millennials and the Workplace

Millennials in the Workplace

Millennials, also known as Generation Y or Gen Y, are the generational cohort that follows Generation X and precedes Generation Z. Although there aren’t any precise categorization of birth years for when millennials are born, most researches in the past classified babies who were born between the 1980s till the mid-1990s to 2000 as “Millennials”. (Rudolph et al., 2018).

Many people seem to have the perception that millennials are often feeling very entitled when they join the workforce while millennials may say that the environment is no longer as conducive as compared to the earlier generations. Is that really the case?

  1. Could it be due to environmental factors?

Although millennials are born in the age of rapid technology and mass communication, they are also the ones who were born during the Great Recession and have benefited the least from the economic recovery and are still catching up, as compared to the other generations. Average incomes of millennials fell at twice the rate and is recovering at a much slower pace compared to the earlier generations (Smith, 2012).

Also, millennials are often brought up with the understanding that you will be successful when you grow up as long as you study hard and work hard. They often have the expectation in mind that they are able to get good jobs and better living standards after they start working. As compared to the older generations, millennials could be the most educated generation till date, which further heightened their expectations towards their future.


 However, the increase in competition, bad economic prospects and other circumstances result in millennials feeling deprived, facing a total opposite of what they believe they deserve or expect. The Relative deprivation theory explains that millennials feel that their situation is worse than what they perceive they deserve and as a result, their unmet expectations are often being seen as entitled in the eyes of the society (Crosby, 1976).

2. Millennials tend to choose their careers based on their individual values rather than economic expectations.

While monetary returns may be the main reason for some people when it comes to job seeking and keeping them motivated at work, millennials may have a slightly different point of view. They take into consideration about their organisation’s mission and values. They have a high desire to work for organisations that go beyond simply making money, and provide meaningful and fulfilling purposes (Lancaster & Stillman, 2002). Responsible companies with CSR practices seemed to be preferred by millennials as they feel empowered for being part of a company that contributes to making the world a better place. When employees are comfortable with their workplace environment and values, they tend to perform more effectively in their roles (Alonso-Almeida & Llach, 2018). It’s no longer the monthly pay that entirely matters, there’s a higher willingness among millennials to accept a lower salary to work for a responsible company.

3. On the bright side. They can be impactful.

While others may say millennials often feel entitled, which means a sense of deservingness by definition, probably unjustified deservingness, this desire may lead to positive social progress. Their sense of entitlement and higher expectations could drive and encourage people, organisations, and even society to both expect and do more, as they have a strong desire to be socially responsible and feel a personal responsibility for making a positive difference in the world, which may lead to positive societal growth when they are part of the workforce (Alsop, 2008).


Millennials as future leaders are also trained in their education system and universities in sustainability developed perspective to anticipate, prevent, and resolve the problems that they will have to confront in their future societies (Ashton et al., 2017).


Alonso-Almeida, M. D. M., & Llach, J. (2018). Socially Responsible Companies: Are They the Best Workplace for Millennials? A Cross-national Analysis. Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management26(1), 238–247. doi: 10.1002/csr.1675
Alsop, R. (2008). The Trophy Kids Grow up: How the Millennial Generation is Shaking Up the Workplace. San Francisco: Wiley.
Ashton, W. S., Hurtado-Martin, M., Anid, N. M., Khalili, N. R., Panero, M. A., & Mcpherson, S. (2017). Pathways to Cleaner Production in the Americas I: Bridging Industry-academia Gaps in the Transition to Sustainability. Journal of Cleaner Production142, 432–444. doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2016.03.116
Crosby, F. (1976). A Model of Egoistical Relative Deprivation. Psychological Review83(2), 85–113. doi: 10.1037/0033-295x.83.2.85
Lancaster, L. C., & Stillmann, D. (2002). When Generations Collide Who They Are, Why they Clash, How to Solve the Generational Puzzle at Work. New York, NY: HarperBusiness.
Smith, E. B. (2012, December 21). American Dream Fades for Generation Y Professionals … Retrieved January 20, 2020, from

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BeLive In Psychology is a mental health clinic at Ecosky, Jalan Kuching, Kuala Lumpur.
Our services consist of therapy, assessment and training.
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Evelyn interns at Be❦Live in Psychology. She graduated with a Bachelor of Psychological Science (HELP-Flinders). Apart from psychology, Evelyn has a strong passion in dance and working with children and youths.


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