The Gen Y Workplace

I wrote this for a class, but thought I might just share it out with the rest of the world too 😉


The work culture in the corporate world is changing as the Gen Y, the term that refers to those who were born between 1981 and 1992, are entering the market. These Gen Y workers bring in new values to the workplace with new expectations and distinct skills and mind sets to those preceding them (Flavelle, 2012). Their contributions should not be ignored, but rather, they should be celebrated. While big and well-established corporations might find difficulties in adjusting their work culture, new companies and startups excel in accommodating and adapting to this new set of workers (Pooley, 2006).


One of the companies that excel in creating a desirable workplace for this new set of workers is HootSuite. HootSuite is a social media dashboard that allows one to manage all their social networks in one unified site. For a startup like HootSuite Media Inc., it was important to find the right kind of people to fit in and contribute to the company culture of which its founder, Ryan Holmes, and VP of Community, Dave Olson, have been curating since it was first founded in December 2008. As a company thriving to drive itself to be the leader of this newly tapped social media industry, HootSuite realized that it was important to cultivate their fans all around the world by establishing a strong culture both in and outside of the company.


With 3.3 million users worldwide, HootSuite is staying to its roots in the Vancouver Downtown Eastside neighbourhood, just few blocks away from the infamous hub for needle and drug exchange. From the outside, the building looks like a warehouse painted in dull brown and decorated with barred windows. Inside, the office is bustling with creative energy and passion from the 130 employees. The room is loud with the sound of chattering of the sales crew, the rolling sound of the chairs from one end to the other, and the fast clicking of mouse and keyboards. The parked bicycles and the old game consoles fit perfectly with the bright painted mural. Just with one look, one can feel how dynamic and lively the company is and the culture that entails. The bright open space encourages interaction between coworkers and the exchange of thoughts throughout the day.



According to a Time magazine article in 2007, friendship is a strong motivator for Gen Y workers. Thus, it makes sense to have the office as an open playground rather than in cubicles. As described by Employee Evolution, this sitting arrangement further proved one of the ten ways generation Y changing their meetings culture and workplace.. For previous generations, meetings are structured formally and can go on for hours. However, the ‘Gen Y-ers’ do not believe in long meetings and they only hold productive meetings that should not take more than 30 minutes. It takes the right kind and like-minded people to continue support this growth.


It is of the belief that the most crucial factors in determining the success or failure of a startup are the team, the demand for the products or services, and the market situation at time of launch. Therefore it is important for the people to not be “ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process.” as Stanley Milgram, a famous researcher once said. Ambrosia Humphrey, the Human Resources manager of HootSuite, once said that 90% of the hires were done through referrals. This is only made possible with the strong company culture that had helped HootSuite to attract and retain employees with high skill sets and strong work ethics. By having dedicated employees who represent the work culture, it was easy to naturally attract more and more talented individuals to the company. In fact, HootSuite quadrupled the number of employees in just five short months.


Unlike the past decades, now an unhappy employee can tweet or blog about his or her experience and the story can spread like a wildfire. In the same way, one careless post can cost someone’s career. Christopher Cristwell, a disgruntled Starbucks’ barista was fired after posting a song on YouTube about the customers he had to deal with everyday (Flock, 2011). In contrary, due to the strong culture curated by Dave Olson, shared and contributed by everyone else, the opposite happened. The story of how much employees love working for HootSuite and their passion for the company transcend.


What sets this cohort of Gen Y workers apart, according to the Canadian Business article, is
the way they socialize, communicate, and manage. HootSuite is successful in encouraging for all three to happen. Through hiring and empowering the right employees who have high skill sets and also fitting personalities, HootSuite is able to soar high and position itself in the competitive technology market. This shift in the work place should not be taken lightly as more and more Gen Ys are entering the market and soon, the change will be inevitable. Rather than fighting the change, companies should embrace and accommodate to this group’s fresh mindset.




BC Jobs. Four generations in the workplace. Retrieved from

Dana Flavelle. (2012, March 15). Generation X feeling the workplace squeeze, report finds. Retrieved from–gen-x-forget-hard-done-by-gen-y-it-s-their-older-counterparts-getting-the-workplace-squeeze

David Gardner. (2011, September 23). ‘Screw frappuccinos, they take an hour to make’: Starbucks sack employee after he posts song mocking customers online. Retrieved from

Elizabeth Flock. (2011, September 09). Starbucks barista fired for a song (video). Retrieved from

Erin Pooley. (2006, January 06). Generation Y: How twentysomethings are changing the workplace. Retrieved from–generation-y-how-twentysomethings-are-changing-the-workplace

Jonathan Chow. (2011, January 10). A Video Interview with Dave Olson of HootSuite [Video file]. Retrieved from

Melanie Trottman. (2011, December 2). For Angry Employees, Legal Cover for Rants. Retrieved from

Penelope Trunk. (2007, July 05). What Gen Y Really Wants. Retrieved from,9171,1640395,00.html

Ryan Healy. (2008, May 23). 10 Ways Generation Y Will Change the Workplace. Retrieved from




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s