Motivation & attitude of generation y in India: an exploratory study.

AuthorBansal, Nidhi


Generational cohorts include individuals born around the same time who share distinctive social or historical life events during critical developmental periods (Schaie, 1965). Each generation is influenced by broad forces (i.e., parents, peers, media, critical economic and social events, and popular culture) that create common value systems distinguishing them from people who grew up at different times (Meglino & Ravlin, 1998). The youngest generation in today's workforce is Generation Y. The group of young individuals born between the years of 1980 and 1999 is commonly known as Generation Y (Jennings, 2000). Generation Y has a variety of names such as Nexters, N-Genres, Echo Boomers, and Millenniums etc. (Glass, 2007). This large pool of new workers comes with a mindset that is very different from that of the earlier generations (Parry, Professor Stefan Strohmeier, Guillot-Soulez & Soulez, 2014). One of the most important reasons why we need to have a clear understanding of the characteristics of Gen Y in India is the notion of the 'demographic dividend'. Gen Y would form close to 75% of the global workforce by the year 2025 (Catalyst, 2015). According to the Economic Survey (2013-14), India will become the youngest country by 2021, with 64% of its population in the working age group of 20-35. Leaders are finding it challenging to manage the Gen Y effectively (Sharkawi, Mohamad & Roslin, 2016) and if they lack interest or are not maturing in their jobs, they will change organizations (Dulin, 2008). Thus, recruitment and retention of "generation Y" employees will be a vital factor of the staffing policies and strategies in the forthcoming years (Mitsakis & Talampekos, 2014).

With youth becoming part of the organizations, there is a need to work with, engage and manage Generation Y employees differently from what is required to manage previous generation employees (Huntley, 2006; Wey Smola & Sutton, 2002a). Most workplaces have multi generations of workforce. Each generation is characterized by unique abilities and competencies, and leveraging them is a key to an organization's success (Millar, Vicki Culpin, Hernaus & Poloski Vokic, 2014; Rentz, 2015; Vicki Culpin, Carla Millar, Kai Peters, Kultalahti & Viitala, 2015a). Generational difference in approaches and attitudes to work can result in intergenerational conflict that can compromise organizational performance (McGuire, Todnem By & Hutchings, 2007). Thus, there is a requirement to understand the attitude and motivation of generation Y employees and also need to find the ways to manage intergenerational conflict and generational differences. Understanding this generation helps businesses develop policies to suit the needs of generation Y, which results in an inclusive workplace that celebrates harmonious work environment. This understanding also improves productivity and innovation in young employees, who will soon fill managerial positions (Kupperschmidt, 2000; Lyons & Kuron, 2014). This large pool of talent will not only strengthen India's economic status but it also would be able to supply human capital to the developed nations in future. Therefore, the characteristics of generation Y will be common around the world. Thus, the study on generation Y can provide important guidelines for employers around the globe.

Most of the studies on generational differences, and generation Y in particular, have been done in Western countries; there is need to examine the influence of national culture (Yi, Ribbens, Fu, & Cheng, 2015) and its impact on generational characteristics. Hence, in order to foster generational synergy in the workplace, it is important for Indian managers to understand the variations in value structures of the different generations. Gen Y is increasing its presence at workplaces across the world and limited research has been done to study their motivations, needs, and expectations at work in Indian context (Khera & Malik, 2017). Thus, to fill the above gap the present study aims to examine the attitude and motivation of generation Y towards their work-life through an open-ended questionnaire survey.

Objectives of the Study

The present study aims to achieve following objectives:

  1. To examine the motivating factors for generation Y.

  2. To understand the work preferences of generation Y.

  3. To understand the attitude of generation Y towards their work-life.

    Previous Researches

    The extant literature shows that generation Y is different from previous generation employees (Huntley, 2006; Smola & Sutton, 2002), it has different work-related characteristics (Connor, Shaw, Shaw & Fairhurst, 2008). They value autonomy, leisure and work-life balance (Callanan & Greenhaus, 2008; Macky, Gardner, Forsyth, Cennamo & Gardner, 2008; Twenge, 2010; Twenge, Campbell, Hoffman & Lance, 2010a; Westerman & Yamamura, 2007) and see work as less central to their lives when compared with Baby Boomers and Generation X (Macky, Gardner, Forsyth, Dries, et al., 2008). Employees of generation Y also seem to demonstrate more individualistic behaviors and self-reliance within the working context (Jones et al., 2006). Within this generation and this particular cohort "new" career patterns such as the boundary less career (Tams & Arthur, 2010) are evolving (Lyons & Kuron, 2014). They prefer to work for the company which is good at CSR (Aguirre et al., 2009). Employees of this generation consider work-life balance options as an important indicator of a person's job quality, job performance, job satisfaction and commitment, and a precursor of ethical decision-making individuals (Smith, 2010). They will, however, if forced, select their family and friends over work (Crumpacker & Crumpacker, 2007). Gen Y professional couples are grappling with dual-career issues early in their relationships (Clarke, 2015). However, it has been argued that while members of Generation Y will seek a work-life balance, their concern for career success will actually draw them into working increasingly long hours and experiencing unsatisfactory relationships between their personal and work lives (Sturges & Guest, 2004). Constant learning and developing at work; interesting, challenging, and varied tasks; social relations and supervisor's behavior; reciprocal flexibility concerning timetables and working hours; and a good work-life balance are important factors for them (Vicki Culpin, Carla Millar, Kai Peters, Kultalahti & Viitala, 2015b). Generation Y placed greater importance on learning, and pride in work knowledge and skills, (Smola & Sutton, 2002b). Members of Generation Y crave for prestige and status in their jobs. They are frequently characterized as ambitious and impatient, and have been reported to expect immediate rewards, including praise, promotion and pay (Gursoy, Maier & Chi, 2008). Generation Y are likely to place greater emphasis on social work value (Altimier, 2006; Wong, Gardiner, Lang & Coulon, 2008). When compared to older generations, generation Y is more effective in some arenas, like multitasking, responding to visual stimulation, and filtering information. However, they are less adept in terms of face-to-face interaction and deciphering nonverbal cues (Smola & Sutton, 2002).

    A recent research on Indian generation Y professionals suggests that they have strong desire to climb the corporate ladder and have a strong need to be associated with a firm which visibly...

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