Chapter 1: Who are the Millennials? Empirical evidence for generational differences in work values, attitudes and personality
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With a mix of four different generations in today’s workplace, generational differences at work have become a hot topic for both academics and practitioners. Although generational diversity brings a variety of perspectives to the workplace, organizations must also try to understand each generation, their needs, their values and their attitudes to capitalize on their strengths (Lieber, 2010). Managers are especially interested in understanding the Millennials (born roughly 1980–99; also known as GenY and Generation Me; Twenge, 2006), the young workers now beginning or building their careers. While this young generation adds valuable energy and effort to the workforce, it also adds complexity for organizations as they struggle to understand what challenges, inspires and motivates these young workers. Many books, press accounts and consultants have rushed to fill this information gap. Some of these sources report the events and trends experienced by each generation and conclude, often without much empirical support, that the generations have certain traits and attitudes (for example, Howe and Strauss, 2000). Others conduct qualitative interviews–either of managers or young people themselves–to draw conclusions about what the young generation wants at work (for example, Lancaster and Stillman, 2010; Tulgan, 2009). Press accounts take a similar approach, documenting the new programs companies have instituted to attract this group, often without first establishing the existence of the relevant generational difference. For example, Needleman (2008) noted that many companies now off er programs that pay employees to volunteer, based on the idea that Millennials have a greater desire than previous generations to help others and contribute to society. However, it was not clear if that supposition was true or not.

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