Midway College Announces Findings of Study on Generational Attitudes in Workplace
For the past 18 months, several Midway College faculty members have surveyed and interviewed more than 800 Central Kentucky employees from seventeen different organizations to determine what differences do or don’t exist between employees of different generations.
The study found several generational differences in work attitudes exist among the generational cohorts currently in the workplace-- Baby Boomers (born between 1942 and 1960), Generation X (born between 1961 and 1981), and Generation Y (born after 1982). Key findings include:
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· Baby Boomers are significantly more likely than Generation X to agree with being more work-focused than family-focused, valuing organizational loyalty to employees, and the need for comprehensive health insurance.
· Baby Boomers are significantly more likely than Generation X and Y to agree with preferring in-person communication, valuing a company-funded retirement plan, and being loyal to their organization.
· Generation X is significantly more likely than Baby Boomers to agree that they are strongly motivated by competition, prefer group projects to individual projects, believe that teams are more effective than individuals, feel that it is important to have a strong voice in decision-making, and value the opportunity for advancement.
· Generation X is significantly more likely than Generation Y to agree that the following issues are important: a balance between work and family, having a company-funded retirement plan, and being challenged at work. They are also more likely to state that they are loyal to their organization and they follow the proper chain of command.
· Generation Y is significantly more likely than Baby Boomers to agree that job security is their top priority; teams are more effective than individuals that time off from work is a strong incentive, and close supervision improves their performance.
· Generation Y is significantly more likely than Generation X to agree that they consider themselves more work-focused than family-focused. They are also significantly more likely than Baby Boomers and Generation X to agree on the importance of opportunity for advancement, and that competition, tuition aid, special recognition, and tangible rewards are all strong motivators.
While the research findings found some significant differences in generational work attitudes between the generations, it also found some in common. All three generations considered loyalty from their employer and maintenance of good working relationships as important. Specifically, the survey found that all generations take their performance appraisals seriously, they are all comfortable working with members of the opposite sex and people with different backgrounds, and comprehensive healthcare was important.
The research results also point out that the generational values of workers in Central Kentucky are similar to like generational cohorts described in previous research from different parts of the US and the globe. There were no particular differences between these cohorts and others elsewhere. This tends to confirm an observation that generational commonalities cut through global, racial/ethic and social boundaries.
These findings are particularly important in light of the changes taking place in the workforce including the flattening of the hierarchy and involvement of employees in decision making and heightened the interaction of employees from different generations. As such, the study concludes that generational differences are likely an element of diversity that leaders of organizations need to be aware of and manage.
In the coming months the members of the faculty research team will be making presentations at academic conferences on this subject and expect some journals to publish findings from this study.
Members of the faculty that participated in this study include Dr. Frank Fletcher, Charles Roberts, Christine Gibson, David Gibson, David R. Cooke, Linda Eldridge, Wendy Hoffman and Roy Mundy.
The complete report of this study’s findings can be downloaded at http://www.midway.edu/sites/default/files/GenerationalStudyofWorkplaceAttitudes10-09.pdf .
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