Despite the 21st century’s widespread age differences in the workplace, at least one thing hasn’t changed – many attitudes of workers are similar. For example, employees are often most-interested in company stability, according to a 2010 study by Robert Half.

Sadly, for many companies, that might also be why 40 percent of respondents were apt to shop around in seeking a new job.

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“Tere has been considerable focus on the differences among various generations, but our research confirms many similarities,” said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International.

“Understanding the values shared by nearly all employees, particularly in light of changing economic conditions, can help companies enhance their recruitment and retention efforts,” he explained

The study involved more than 1,400 people working fulltime in North America.

The respondents were either college graduates or are in school. Just over 500 were hiring managers.

The demographics included baby boomers, aged 46 to 64; Generation X, 32 to 45; and Generation Y, 21 to 31.

Among the three generations, the study reveals five similarities:

  • Job security was preferred over working for a community-minded firm or even for a shorter commute
  • Salary, company stability and benefits were the most salient
  • Most-prized benefits – healthcare and dental coverage, vacation time and matching 401 (k) plans
  • The Great Recession is the main reason for those planning to work past 65
  • Diversity in work experience is believed to be beneficial

Here are the generational differences:

  • Following the downturn, many planned to job hunt. The breakdown included 36 percent of Generation Ys, 30 percent of Generation Xs, and 24 percent of baby boomers.
  • Among the Generation X, 38 percent planned to upgrade skills and 33 percent percent planned to stay with their employers.
  • For the respondents planning to work past 65, 54 percent were baby boomers, 46 percent were Generation X, and 39 percent were Generation Y.
  • 34 percent of Generation X and 27 percent of baby boomers managed to add to their retirement nest eggs since the beginning of the downturn.
  • Many were concerned about differences in coworker work ethics and balancing career with their lives. That’s 54 percent of baby boomers, 45 percent of Generation X, and 35 percent of Generation Y.

“Many employees, particularly Gen Y professionals, are biding their time in their current employment situations and plan to make a move when they feel the economy is on firmer footing,” said Brett Good, a Robert Half International district president. “Now is the time for employers to take action and outline career paths within their company for strong performers. Compensation reviews also should be conducted to ensure that pay is competitive.”

Well said.

If you want, you can get a copy of the study.

From the Coach’s Corner, more HR resources:

“Never put off the work till tomorrow what you can put off today.”


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.