Generation Y less satisfied than other generations

28 May 2015

Generation Y is the least satisfied generation when it comes to the work environment, research by Hay Group shows. The firm investigated the different generations; their expectations of what work is as well their ways of being engaged; and found that as generation Y grew up in relative stability, this generation has an unreasonable expectation of the work world.

Many workplaces today are multi-cultural, have wide diversity and other ways in which awareness of differences are highlighted. In a recent report from Hay Group, the intergenerational differences that work floors too need to consider – and deal with – are made salient. To bring out the intergenerational differences, the consulting firm analysed data from more than 5 million employees across the globe and assessed multiple work environment factors, yielding data that enables differences in generation type to be mapped.

Who are the different generations?

Generational differences
Five general trends were identified. The traditionalists were born between 1928 and 1944. This generation values authority and a top-down management approach and works hard. The baby boomer generation was born between 1945 and 1965. People born during these years, expect some degree of deference to their opinions; ‘be anything you want to be’; ‘eternal youth – retirement as freedom’; and tend to be workaholics. Generation X were born between 1965 and 1979. This generation is comfortable with authority; wants to be listened to; will work as hard as is needed; ‘don’t count on it’; ‘take care of yourself’; view the work-life balance as important.

Generation Y has been born between 1980 and 1995 and generally grew up in prosperity. For them, respect must be earned; ‘you are special’; ‘achieve now’; they are technologically savvy; goal and achievement oriented. Generation Z, born after 1995, is still to come into the workforce. However, they tend to be digital natives, fast decision makers, and highly connected.

The positivity dip

In mapping the different trends between the generations, Hay Group found that the different age groups tend to show different levels of positivity about their work environment. With positivity in the generation Y group at 63% compared to 70% for generation Z and 71% for the traditionalists. Generation X is only very slightly more positive (2%) while 67% of the baby boomers are positive.

The reason for the dip – according to Hay Group – is that generation Y grew up in relative stability and has unreasonable expectation of the work world. They are ‘used to having it all their own way’. Yet, they are also highly independent, enabled by unprecedented access to technology and education. While generation Z is more realistic about the lack of chances that the current economic environment and long term trend seems to project.

Qualities needed in future leaders

Leading future
The consultancy also noted the difference in the development of leadership style between the generations. According to the survey, generation Y and Z are not very confident in their organisations’ development of the right skills needed by future leaders, with a gap of 15% with respect to the traditionalists. The earlier generations believe that there will be greater emphasis on leading innovation, global leadership and collaboration. While the new generations (Y, Z) believe that the leadership qualities of the future will be in technical competence and decisive leadership.

The report concludes: “There’s no denying that we’re all different and shaped by our experiences. The rise of technology has affected all of us, but younger generations have had their education and home life shaped by technology in a way that older generations haven’t. Each of us changes and develops in response to the on-going change in the world around us. The best leaders will continue to use empathy and insight into the unique attributes and expectations of each person to create an environment that gets the best from everyone, regardless of age.”


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