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Critical Analysis of Characteristics of Generation Y

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Nowadays, most of the workforce in Malaysia is dominated by Generation Y. Generation Y is those born between the early 1980s and the late 1990s (Sharkawi, Syed Mohd, & Roslin, 2016). They are also known as Millennial and have unique characteristics that make them different from the generation before. This generation is raised up in surroundings which technology is widely used in daily life. More precisely, it is because of the development in the current stream of modernization is taking place.

Characteristics of Generation Y

A study conducted by Jalil, Achan, Mojolou, and Rozaime (2015) mentioned that this generation is labelled as ‘Digital Natives’ because of they are the generation that is really exposed to the wired world, such as the world of social networking. In addition, most of them is well-educated at least have a diploma or degree in a college or university (Moorthy, 2014).

The entry of generation Y into the workforce in Malaysia has given a great impact toward the rules of play of an organization. Across history, the entrance of the new generations has caused conflict in between the new and also the old value in the workplace. This occurrence is due to the work’s value posed by generation Y is different from the generation before. Besides, they also have differences in term of work attitudes and also work expectations if compare to the generation before.

Due to their preference that differs from the older generation, there are a lot of negative perceptions about this generation. Reported from Mansor, Mun, Farhana, Nasuha and Tarmizi (2017) mentioned that the generation Y are always seeking for opportunities to learn, willing to collaborate with others, able to socialize with a workmate and also strongly relationship-focused. At the workplace, they are appreciating clear instructions, request immediate feedback on performance, and expect referral which includes management decisions, and ongoing intellectual challenges (Jalil, Achan, Mojolou, & Rozaime, 2015).

Besides, they insist to work under flexible conditions, where and when to work. The different characteristics of the generation Y from the older generation lead to dilemmas in terms of leadership style that is suitable to their preference. A study conducted by Alqatawenh (2018) mentioned that this generation plays a vital role in determining the future of an organization. So it is important to attract this generation to join the workforce because at this stage they are eager to learn. Leadership style in an organization also becomes a crucial factor in order to attract them.

Transformational Leadership

The amount of the generation Y continues to grow in the workplace makes it is important to understand which leadership style that suitable with generation Y preference. One of the leadership styles that is suitable with the preference of the generation Y is transformational leadership. Transformational leadership is about a person that stimulates and transforms followers to achieve a great outcome (Alqatawenh,2018). Warillow (2012) identify four components of transformational leadership style which is idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation and also individual consideration (as cited from Odumeru & Ogbonna, 2013).

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In this 21st century, the characteristics that the transformational leadership style have make it is suitable for generation Y. Idealized influence or charisma is one of the components of transformational leadership. It is referring to the behaviour of the leader becoming a role model to the employee and creates a wonderful image with self-confidence that is able to make the employee engage more in the organization (Mansor, Mun, Farhana, Nasuha and Tarmizi (2017). This means that a leader will go beyond their own interests for the good of the group and make personal sacrifices for the benefit of others. So that, the employee will expect that leaders must be able to help them achieve any goals that have been planned by the organization. For Gen Y, they believe that they will follow wherever the good leader go like become a successor.

A transformational leader will show a sense of power and confidence that can motivate others that they can overcome obstacles (Sharkawi, Syed Mohd, & Roslin, 2016). A study conducted by Jauhar, Ting, Rahim and Fareen (2017) shows that generation Y prefer a leader that always shows a degree of accountability and incorporates moral aspects in their leadership style. The wonderful image shown by the leader will produce a positive influence and can enhance the engagement of the generation Y in the organization. Besides that, leaders that display a friendly and caring attitude is the best and chosen employer among Gen Y. The leaders as well as must be approachable and easy to talk to. It is critical to Gen Y to have a conducive working environment when learning takes place without feeling stress.

The second component that transformational leadership have is about the inspirational motivation dimension which is related to the leaders that give motivation to the employee within the entire organization. According to Grubbstrom and Lopez (2018), motivations are the causes or the reason that can drive and direct individual behaviour to achieve a specific goal. So in order to ensure this generation performs in the organization, the leader should provide them with something that can ensure that they feel satisfied with what they are doing in the company. Employees will feel satisfied with their job if the leader is able to recognize their contribution to the organization. Not only that, when their supervisor makes feedback it shows appreciation of their commendable hard work in order to accomplish their job. Balouch and Hassan (2014) mentioned that job satisfaction is a subjective variable which not only on the nature of the job but also on the individual’s expectation of what his or her job should provide. Rewarding or compensating the Millennials can make them to feel motivated in doing their job thus retain in the company for a longer period.

The third components of the Transformational leadership style are intellectual dimension. This intellectual dimension is when a leader challenges employees’ ability to solve problems (Moorthy,2014). The leader provides a challenge that makes their subordinates more active in thinking and looking at problems from a different view. Generation Y are eager to learn about new thing (Mansor, Mun, Farhana, Nasuha and Tarmizi, 2017). By involving in discussions or any meetings the organization, the employee able to express their own idea and also gain new knowledge from others. When an employee shows that they give a contribution to a certain job they hope can receive fair feedback from their supervisor. It is because through that feedback it could help them to develop their own talent. Instead of contributed new ideas to the organization, the employee will also feel self-belonging to the organization and that will surely make they stay longer in the organization.

The fourth component of transformational leadership that suits with the characteristics of the generation Y is individualized consideration. According to Mansor, Mun, Farhana, Nasuha and Tarmizi (2017), individualized consideration is refer to a leader that always recognizes and reward their employee accordingly. Recognising an employee’s show that they are able to play their role in performing their task will send the message that their hard work is worth rewarding. This will make the employee feel satisfied in doing their job. Furthermore, according to a study conducted by Sharkawi, Syed Mohd and Roslin (2016) generation Y always expect for supervisor recognition after succeed perform their task. Thus, by giving a reward or recognising their job it will be able to meet the generation Y job expectation. This in turn will make them to retain in the company for a longer period.

Generation Y have a different preference if compare the older generation. This generation have a difference in term of work attitude, work value and also work expectation than other generations. Besides, Generation Y is also known as being very different from older generations in terms of values such as personal ambitions and goals, increased self-confidence, and also a need to express their opinions. They also always expect the effort in performing job is being recognized by their leader. In conclusion, leadership style in the organization is very important in attracting the generation Y to join and retain in the organization.


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  4. Hossain, M. I., Limon, N., Amin, M. T., & Asheq, A. S. (2018). Work-Life Balance Trends: A study on Malaysian Generation Y Bankers. Journal of Business and Management, 20(9), 1-9.
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  6. Jauhar, J., Ting, C. S., Rahim, N. F. A., & Fareen, N. (2017). The Impact of Reward and Transformational Leadership On the Intention to Quit of Generation Y Employees in Oil and Gas Industry: Moderating Role of Job Satisfaction. Global Business and Management Research: An International Journal, 9(4), 426-442.
  7. Kranenberg, E. (2014). Work-Values Differences within Generation Y: Recommendations for HR Management in the Hospitality Industry (Master’s thesis, University of Twente).
  8. Mansor, Z. D., Mun, C. P., Farhana, B. N., Nasuha, W. A., & Tarmizi, W. M. (2017). Influence of Transformation Leadership Style on Employee Engagement Among Generation Y. Journal of Economics and Management Engineering, 11(1), 161-165.
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  11. Sharkawi, S., Syed Mohd, S. A., & Roslin, R. (2016). Exploring the Leadership Preference of Malaysian Generation Y Employee: A Conceptual Paper. International Journal of Business and Management, 11(8), 152-161.

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