Midway study reveals generational differences in views of work

jpatton1@herald-leader.comOctober 15, 2009 

Central Kentucky employers take note: A new business study by Midway College found big differences between workplace attitudes of older workers and those of younger workers.

The differences don't necessarily make one generation preferable to another, but they might help employers understand how to get a department or team to work together.

Business school dean Frank Fletcher said he hopes that the study will help employers help retain workers by focusing on what is important to specific groups.

"People of different age groups respond to things differently," Fletcher said. "Hopefully, we raised more questions than we answered."

The survey found that:

■ Baby boomers (those born from 1942 through 1960) were more likely to consider themselves work-oriented rather than family oriented. They also value organizational loyalty to employees, and value the need for comprehensive health insurance.

■ Generation X employees (those born from 1961 through 1981) value a balance between work and family, prefer group projects and teams, and want a challenge at work.

■ Generation Y employees (those born since 1982) are more likely to say that job security is their top priority, time off from work is a strong incentive, and close supervision improves their performance.

One of the more surprising findings, Fletcher said, was "generation Y being so attracted to social events at work. They place a lot of value on that, more than generation X or baby boomers."

Midway College business and teacher education faculty members surveyed 834 Central Kentucky employees in various industries from January through April.

Reach Janet Patton at (859) 231-3264 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3264.

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