The Younger They Are, the Less Satisfied

Jan. 11, 2008
Newer-generation workers expect more from employers.

Older workers seem to like their jobs a little better than their younger counterparts -- at least that's what a recent study suggests. In a survey of 11,244 employees, only 30% of workers ages 21 to 30 say they would strongly recommend their organizations as good places to work. At the same time, 47% of workers ages 61 to 70 say they would strongly recommend their companies as good places to work. One reason for this is that younger workers demand more praise and recognition from their employers than older generations, according to the analysis by consultancy firm Leadership IQ.

"Age is positively correlated to workplace satisfaction, so the older you are, the more likely you are to have a high opinion of your company," says Mark Murphy, Leadership IQ chairman and CEO. "And a big cause of this seems to be that each age group is motivated very differently."

Murphy points out that employers may be better situated in the long run by giving younger workers the affirmation they desire. "It's become clich to bemoan younger workers' need for praise and recognition. But what's disturbing is that six out of 10 younger workers are being actively demotivated because their boss won't give them the one thing they really care about," Murphy concludes. "And these results are especially disappointing because praise and recognition don't really cost anything."

On the other hand, older workers want clearer performance evaluations. Based on the survey results, it appears that employers are meeting this need. "What's clear from this study is that managers are doing a better job with their older workers than with their younger workers," Murphy says. "Managers cannot use one management style and expect success because every age group is motivated differently."

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