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Generation Y – challenging clients for HRM?

Susanna Kultalahti (Department of Management, University of Vaasa, Vaasa, Finland)
Riitta Viitala (Department of Management, University of Vaasa, Vaasa, Finland)

Journal of Managerial Psychology

ISSN: 0268-3946

Article publication date: 9 February 2015




The purpose of this qualitative paper is to seek more understanding of the elements important to the psychological contracts of working Millennials. The study also presents the implications of those findings for human resource management practices.


Empirical data were collected from Facebook using the method of empathy-based stories (MEBS). A sample of working Millennials describes the factors they saw as motivating and desirable in working life.


The findings are in line with previous quantitative studies in western countries, which reveal constant learning and developing at work; interesting, challenging, and varied tasks; social relations and the supervisor’s behaviour; reciprocal flexibility concerning timetables and working hours; and a good work-life balance to be important factors. However, the findings indicate that the desire to develop competences, and factors related to time may be even more significant for Millennials than previous literature on psychological contracts has suggested. Neither monetary issues nor a desire for long-term contracts emerged clearly as important factors from the material, showing that the manifestations of some elements that are important in the formulation of the psychological contract vary in different contexts.

Practical implications

The findings of this study indicate that employing Millennials challenges HR professionals to develop HR practices that offer flexible time structures, systematic and individual development procedures, and a coaching form of leadership.


The paper exhibits a methodological innovation in using Facebook as a vehicle for data gathering. Additionally it applies the MEBS: a method still rare in research in the field of business.



An earlier version of this paper has been presented in the 28th British Academy of Management Conference, 9-11 September 2014 in Belfast, Northern Ireland.


Kultalahti, S. and Viitala, R. (2015), "Generation Y – challenging clients for HRM?", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 30 No. 1, pp. 101-114.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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