Different Workplace Strokes Appeal to Different Folks

August 17, 2006 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Generational differences can make a significant difference in how employees view their relationship with their employer, according to a new Randstad study.

For example, the study found that 58% of Generation Y workers and 52% of Generation X employees want their employer to provide “pathways to personal growth,” compared to 41% of boomers and 29% of matures (born 1900 to 1945).

“Employees’ views of work and growth opportunities vary by generation; therefore improving job satisfaction and productivity require tailored approaches,” said Genia Spencer, managing director of operations and HR for Randstad USA, in a news release.

The study broke down the workforce into four generations of employees:

  • matures (born between 1900 and 1945)
  • boomers (born between 1946 and 1964)
  • Generation X (born between 1965 and 1979)
  • Generation Y (born between 1980 and 1987).

Generation Y – sometimes referred to as millennials, echo boomers and nexters, “has a different take on career development,” the study report noted. “They are the least interested in pay increases, even though one could assume they are at the bottom of the pay scale.”

Meanwhile, learning new skills is the most important aspect of the job for Generation Y (31%), while Generation X, boomers and matures see less value in such development: Generation X, 22%; boomers, 21%; and matures, 20%.

Spencer said the study found that members of Generation Y want jobs that give them time to pursue personal interests as well as the ability to finance their way of life, she said. “They’ve had it reinforced through everything they’ve seen that the pursuit of the traditional career path and the additional hours of work do not necessarily lead to a guarantee of a future position and status,” she said.

Other generational differences:

  • job training most appeals to Generation Y (10%) compared to matures and boomers (4 %) and Generation X (3%).
  • 3% of Generation Y and 8% of Generation X consider increased responsibilities important to their careers, unlike matures (15%) and boomers (11%).
  • Generation X and boomers value promotions (11% and 9%, respectively) more than Generation Y (4%) and matures (2%).
  • Matures (84%) want recognition and appreciation from a job; 78% of boomers and 74% of both Generation X and Generation Y said this was important.
  • Generation Y cares least about pay increases (27%) than do matures (40%), boomers (33%) and Generation X (31%).

“The usual process of career development means increased responsibilities and learning new skills along the way, resulting in a promotion with a pay increase, immediately followed by increased responsibilities. It’s hard to say how Generation Y will reconcile this disconnect among the aspects of career development. They may be the generation that redefines career development,” the report said.

Turning to employees’ view about money, Randstad found that more employees surveyed this year than last (39% vs. 28%) think they are underpaid, while more employers this year than last (50% vs. 42%) think the salaries they offer “are on par with the marketplace,” the study says. Workers see a gap in the value they provide their employer and the value the employer assigns to their efforts, Spencer said.

Despite talk about job pressures and claims of wanting a healthier work/life balance, a majority of employees of all ages agree they would put up with more job stress if they received more money. Generation X is most willing to accept more stress for a boost in pay (66%). Generation Y (60%), boomers and matures (both at 55%) also are willing to take on more stress for a fatter paycheck.

The survey covered nearly 3,000 adults.