To read this content please select one of the options below:

Sufficient challenges and a weekend ahead – Generation Y describing motivation at work

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

Journal of Organizational Change Management

ISSN: 0953-4814

Article publication date: 8 July 2014




The purpose of this paper is to examine some perceptions of Millennials concerning what makes work motivating, and discuss their implications for human resource management (HRM) practices.


Empirical data were collected via Facebook using the method of empathy-based stories (MEBS). The theoretical framework is grounded in the literature on motivation.


The full-time working Millennials wrote more about intrinsic motivators than extrinsic ones. Additionally, there were several dichotomies of positive and negative factors causing motivation/demotivation. Thus, the results contradict to some extent with the ones of Herzberg's. The stories revealed that the most important things having an effect on motivation were an interesting, varying and flexible job and good relationships with colleagues and supervisor.

Practical implications

The results revealed some particular factors that should be considered when designing HRM practices to dovetail with the motivational drivers of the Millennials: flexibility, work-life balance, convenient social relationships, need for coaching-based leadership and the opportunity to develop.

Social implications

Due to retirements and shrinking generations, the impact of Generation Y is increasing in the workforce. Thus, recognising its motivational factors is important.


The originality of the study partly rests in its methodological innovativeness. Often adopted by sociologists, this study introduces the method of MEBS to the business field. Furthermore, Facebook is still seldom used in data gathering. While much of the extant research on Generation Y is quantitative in nature, the adoption of a qualitative approach allows for the voice of Generation Y to be heard.



Kultalahti, S. and Liisa Viitala, R. (2014), "Sufficient challenges and a weekend ahead – Generation Y describing motivation at work", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 27 No. 4, pp. 569-582.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles