Learning & Development

Study Shows Impact of Generational Differences in the Workforce

“This is the most comprehensive quantitative study performed on generations in the workforce,” says Warren Wright, vice president of LifeCourse Associates. Wright adds, “We now know what engages different generations.”

The study included Millennials (age 30 and under), Generation X (ages 31 to 51), and Boomers (ages 52 to 69) who are employed full-time. The survey was conducted through a nationally representative online panel of 1,250 respondents in July 2011, and was tested again on 4,986 insurance industry employees in September 2011.


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Key Findings

  • Generations matter. Nearly three-quarters of respondents agreed, not only that there are important generational differences but also that they “sometimes” or “often” pose challenges in the workplace.
  • Millennials crave mentorship. Nearly a third of Millennials “strongly” agreed that they want to work for an organization that provides an excellent mentoring program, far more than any other generation. Millennials also experience the largest gap between what they have and what they want when it comes to mentoring.
  • Millennials want a social workplace. An overwhelming 68 percent of Millennials agreed that they like to socialize informally and make new friends while at work, about 10 points higher than any other generation.
  • Millennials want to contribute. Nearly two-thirds of Millennials agreed that they like their employer “to contribute to social and ethical causes” that they think are important, versus barely half of Boomers and older Gen Xers.

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  • Millennials and Xers want cutting-edge technology. High shares of both Millennials and Gen Xers “strongly agree” that they “like to work with state-of-the-art technology,” while Boomers rate this as significantly less important. Millennials rate their employers’ performance in this area the lowest.
  • Boomers are mission-focused. Fully 56 percent of older Boomers and 50 percent of younger Boomers “strongly agree” that they want to be “100 percent dedicated to my organization’s mission.” That number declines sharply for older Gen Xers and continues to decline through Millennials, in a remarkable 19-point generational spread.

The report is part of LifeCourse’s new Generational Workforce Audit, a customized research tool to diagnose how generational engagement affects an organization’s bottom line. For more information, visit www.lifecourse.com.