Many aspects can be taken into consideration in order to understand the reasons behind the myth or reality of Generation Y, behaviour and attitudes in the workplace.
A recent study on job satisfaction, conducted by researchers from Curtin University in Western Australia, surveyed workers from every age group, state and territory. The findings concluded that older workers are happier with their jobs than younger ones, with Generation Y being rating the lowest job satisfaction.
A different study published in the journal Work, Aging and Retirement, was initiated by Professor of psychology, Nick Haslam, from University of Melbourne. He compared 18-year-olds now with contemporary 48-year-olds when they were 18. The study focuses on three different groups: baby-boomers (18 year olds in 1976 to 1979), Gen-X (1979 to 1999) and Millennials (2000 to 2014), their personality characteristics, attitudes and work behavior.
Many studies try to trace the historical changes of personality in different generations. Some researchers’ findings can be exaggerated, while others consider that the changes are real and consequential. A few very predominant personality traits characteristic for people born more recently include being more assertive, more narcissistic, more extroverted, more anxious and higher in self-esteem. They tend to be less trusting, less empathetic and less confident that important life outcomes are under their control. They are more fragile and entitled, demanding of more pay for less effort, they require constant praised and focus on accelerated promotions. Considering their growing environment perhaps they are more entrepreneurial and socially conscious than their predecessors, shying away from corporate conformity and striving for personal meaning or social contribution.
To be able to come up with more concrete answers, the researchers used a large survey run annually since 1976 on 100,000 American 18-year-olds. Their findings of the comparison of the three generations on work values concluded that the differences are small, subtle and not readily divisible into three periods. The millennials valued the extrinsic rewards of work, such as money and status, slightly less than Gen-Xers and only slightly more than the Baby Boomers. Also, another similarity between Millennials and earlier generations is the fact that the intrinsic rewards of work, such as opportunities for skill development and creativity, were only marginally less invested between them.
A few differences are larger such as Millennials placing higher value on the leisure rewards of work, including holidays, flexible hours and freedom from supervision than Gen-Xers and especially Boomers. Also, Millennials valued work less for its opportunities to make friends than previous generations. Due to the age of social media, workplaces are less essential sources of social connection than they used to be for past generations.
One of the predominant characteristics of Millennials, as mentioned previously, is the imperative to seek out jobs that are better paid – this tendency leading to an expensive lesson for employers: a higher rate of turnover in current workplace environment. Connecting back with the personality, Millennial employees can be seen as having an unpredictable personality. Their reason to change jobs quicker can result in bigger debts at an earlier age. Job satisfaction (or lack thereof) can be a very important factor for their move.
One thing’s for certain – in order to retain the new generation in the workplace for longer, employers need to be budget ready to invest in the their skills.
Based on Chapter 8’s theory on personality types, category of jobs that match personality and different generations, the following discussion questions are to be answered.
- Based on the recent study and your own experience, could you agree and why or why not that the Gen-Y has the lowest job satisfaction?
- Do you consider that the millennials personality traits are a characteristic of this generation? If yes, explain why you consider so.
- Based on research conducted by the University of Melbourne, could you justify giving examples, why the new generations are more entrepreneurial and socially conscious than their predecessors?
- How would you feel if had to take a personality test as part of a job recruitment process? Would you keep your answers genuine?
- How do you feel about the careers suggested to you based on a personality test? Would you take a career decision based on these suggestions, even if you cannot relate to any of these suggestions?
- Considering personality, skills and interests, which one would weight more in your preferences of recruiting people to work with you? Why?