New study shows differing definitions of 'work' between generations

Lexington Herald-LeaderOctober 14, 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 between 1942 and 1960) were more likely to consider themselves work-oriented rather than family-oriented, they value organizational loyalty to employees, and they value the need for comprehensive health insurance.

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

¡ Generation Y employees (those born after 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."

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