Personal Growth vs. Higher Pay: The Generational Differences
7/1/2006 By Stephen Miller, for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)
Employees want opportunities for career development, an improved work/life balance and to feel valued, according to a new survey. But despite concerns about job strains and the desire for a healthier work/life balance, a majority of employees of all ages said they would endure more stress for more income. Still, younger workers are more likely to favor personal development (and more time off) over higher pay.
In its 2006 Employee Review, global staffing firm Randstad explores workplace attitudes in today's multi-generational workplace. Results from the 2006 survey focus on employee development, health and happiness.
When it comes to career development, 73 percent of employers said fostering employee development is important, but only 49 percent of employees said leadership is adhering to this practice. Likewise, 86 percent of employees cited feeling valued as an important factor for happiness while only 37 percent said it exists in their job.
"The survey shows a widening gap in employee expectations and respective employer delivery. Companies that encourage dialogue to narrow the disparity will broaden work appreciation and job satisfaction," said Genia Spencer, managing director of operations and HR for Randstad USA. "Employees' views of work and growth opportunities vary by generation; therefore improving job satisfaction and productivity require tailored approaches."
It's a New Generation
The employee universe is segmented into four generational categories born between these respective years: Gen Y (1980-1987), Gen X (1965-1979), Baby Boomers (1946-1964) and Matures (1900-1945).
The survey reveals key generational differences regarding more pay increases vs. more responsibility/personal growth, and the use (and misuse) of sick days:
Career development. Gen Y workers are the least likely to be interested in pay increases and most likely to be interested in learning new skills (31 percent), and they are more likely to value a career path (19 percent) than any other generation. Yet interestingly, only 3 percent consider increased responsibilities important to their career.
Happiness. Gen Y and Gen X want pathways to personal growth, 58 percent and 52 percent respectively, compared to 41 percent of Baby Boomers and only 29 percent of Matures. On the other hand, 84 percent of Matures are looking for recognition and appreciation compared to 74 percent of Gen Y.
Absenteeism. Gen Y and Gen X take the most number of sick days, and—surprisingly—Matures take the least. Compared to Matures, Gen Y employees are almost twice as likely (40 percent vs. 26 percent) to take a sick day to relieve stress, almost three times more likely (33 percent vs. 12 percent) to attribute working too many hours to absenteeism and almost four times as likely (23 percent vs. 6 percent) to use a sick day for personal errands.
Small companies (41 percent) are more likely to be concerned with hiring the right person with the right skills, the survey found, while large companies (31 percent) regard retaining and motivating employees as the most important business issue.
Stephen Miller is the manager of SHRM Online's Compensation & Benefits Focus Area .
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