How to Treat Generation Y Employees

How to treat Generation Y employees

[About clichés, culture, customers & creating change]

Not a week goes by, or I see some inspirational / interesting / insightful post about what people want from their work, and especially how this is different for younger people (generation Y), than for mid-career (gen X) or near-retirement (baby boomers) employees.

I read that Generation Y:

  • Is lazy.
  • Has a short attention span.
  • Feels entitled.
  • Requires constant praise.

If I take a closer look, I see that:

  • They like to work smart – not hard -Yet a lot of companies rather have you work from 9 to 5 in a controlled environment to monitor your productivity.
  • They are eager to progress. Yet a lot of companies don’t provide the proper opportunities to grow.
  • They are ambitious and have high expectations. Yet a lot of companies focus on what they want from them, not on the value they can offer their employees.
  • They love to work on specific goals & they want to know if they’re doing the right thing. Frequent feedback – either constructive or positive – helps them in learning, progress and mastery. Yet a lot of companies limit feedback to end results or formal moments (performance reviews) and are frugal with giving compliments

They have a point.
They don’t want to play by your rules.
They want to be happy, doing meaningful work in a smart way, for people that appreciate them.
Is that so strange?

Making & keeping your employees happy should be top priority in any organization. Who says so? Well, all those quotes I come across every week:


“Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first”. – Simon Sinek


“Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers” – Stephen Covey


“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your clients” – Richard Branson


So, these guys also have a point: Take care of your people. Is that so strange?

Your company culture, the way you treat your employees and the way you treat your customers are coherent. They do not just only influence each other; they are basically the same. The all spring from your DNA; a clear definition of WHO you are – as a company – and WHY (what are you about). Take a look at these:

Think Different (Apple), Don’t be Evil (Google), Open Happiness (Coca Cola), Just do it (Nike), Because you’re worth it (L’Oréal), Everything for a smile (Coolblue), Make the most of now (Vodafone), Challenge everything (EA), Have it your way (Burger King).

They are not just slogans. If you take a closer look here, you’ll notice that:

  • They apply to both customers and employees / company culture
  • They are all about human action or emotion
  • They leave room for personal interpretation
  • They are short & simple

These are all strong WHY’s. Some of them have been around since the beginning of the company, like l’Oreal (1973) and Burger King (1973) and they continue to inspire both customers and employees. That doesn’t happen all by itself though. If your company doesn’t have a clear WHY, or if it’s not focused on human action or emotion, if it doesn’t leave room for personal interpretation, if it’s not short & simple or – if it ís – but it’s not actually ‘lived’ by your people, than it’s time to take action.

“Words may inspire, but only action creates change.” – Simon Sinek

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