Mercer: Gen Y Positive About Career But Not Satisfied

July 16, 2003 ( - An alphabet soup of generational monikers proves that time marches on, as the new crop of Generation Y workers express lower overall satisfaction with their jobs, ready to leave on a moments notice for greater perks and more flexibility.

The Generation Y workforce, a small slice of newly minted employees aged 18 to 24, overall though tends to be more upbeat about the work experience than their generation counterparts, with this group more likely to agree that “senior management communicates a clear vision ofthe future direction of my organization,” according to data from Mercer Human ResourceConsulting.

Additionally, young employees express more-favorable views on a variety of workplace related issues. While the other generations see roughly four out of 10 workers able to maintain a healthy balance between their work and personal lives, 64% of the Generation Y employees said they were able to strike such a balance. A similar percentage also sees opportunity to take time away from work to participate in training (67%), compared to 52% of all generations and only 48% of the next older age group, Generation X (aged 25-34).

The training apparently becomes a big part of this young workforce’s concern and development. More than seven out of 10 (73%) said their last performance review was helpful in identifying areas to work on, something only 60% of Generation X and 55% of all age groups could identify with. Further, Generation Y is looking for guidance and 75% is apparently finding it, saying their managers are available when needed.

Dark Cloud in Silver Lining

Alas, it is not all sunshine and roses for the wee tots. Compared to 64% of all generations that feel they are treated fairly in their organization, only 44% of Generation Y felt this way. Also, 64% feel challenged, a relatively small figure compared to three-quarters of Generation Xers facing challenging and interesting work.

The overall effect is that employees age 18-24 tend to be less satisfiedwith their jobs, by as much as 9% to 14% lower than the other age groups. The discontent carries over to less satisfaction with their organizations, anywhere from 14% to 21% off the older group marks.

Therefore, while the group as a whole is looking at the work experience in a good light, this does not mean they have turned a blind eye to better opportunities around the corner; indicating they were also more likely to consider leaving their current jobs for better benefits, more flexible workingarrangements, and greater promotional opportunities elsewhere.

Interestingly, this group said their commitment and motivation at work are influenced less by base payand more by promotion opportunities and flexible working arrangements. Forexample, 82% cite flexible working arrangements as a factor that influencestheir commitment and motivation, compared to 58% to 69% for the otheremployee age groups. On the other hand, 73% cite base pay as important,compared to 78% to 88% for the other employee age groups. In addition, morethan half of the younger workers (55%) said they would leave their currentorganization to work for another organization with better benefits.

Not surprisingly, given the age of the group, Generation Y is considerably less interested inbenefits such as retiree medical coverage and long-term care insurance.However they are more interested than other workers in benefits such astuition reimbursement, flexible spending accounts for dependent care, andpet insurance.

“Employers were finally getting a handle on the needs and expectations oftheir Generation X workers, who differ considerably from other workers suchas the ‘Baby Boomers,’ and now along comes Generation Y,” Rod Fralicx,global employee research director for Mercer, in a statement. “Employees age 18-24clearly have different views and expectations than older employees, evenwhen compared to Generation X employees. This will require differentmanagement approaches to recruit them, retain them, and keep them engaged.”