Our study examined career-related differences among four generation of workers in today's workplace.

We surveyed over 3,000 Canadians to determine if there were significant inter-generational differences in their work priorities, carrer attitudes, career experiences and career outcomes.

Work Priorities

Our data provides evidence of generational differences in terms of work priorities. The youngest generation, the Millennials, placed more importance on work characteristics that lead to self-improvement, as well as social aspects of the workplace. In contrast, the values of Generation X employees emphasized the need to find a balance between work and personal facets of life. Both Boomers and Matures were concerned with staying relevant in an ever-chaging work environment. However, these oldest two generations differed in that Boomers remained focused on advancement and achievement while Matures were striving to leave a lasting impression in their organizations.

Career Concepts

Overall, our study shows significant inter-generational differences across many of these concepts. For example, Matures identified with their careers more than other genereations, which suggests that work plays a more central role in their lives. Millennials and Gen X employees indicated a belief that they are not in control of their career success. Moreover, Millennials had lower level of self-efficacy than both Gen X and Boomer employees. In terms of career anchors, we found that each successively younger generation placed more importance on autonomy and independece, entrepreneurial creativity, lifestyle, service and dedication. Lastly, pre-career Millennials indicaed high expectations for salary growth over their careers, despite expecting to take an average of five years for child-rearing and travel activities.

Career Experiences

We also studied the frequence of career events, pivotal moments, and the individuals whom our participants believed to be the most influential in their careers. Despite having spent less time in their careers, Millennials and Generation X employees, for the most part, reported equal, if not greater, frequency of career events (e.g., left employer for advancement, took extended leave for travel, reduced hours of workload) than the older generations. Millennials were less likely to have encountered several pivotal career moments (e.g., being downsized, having health issues that lead to career change) as compared to older generations. Finally, the two youngest generations seem to be influence by, and reliant on, more individuals for career advice, as compared to the Boomer and Mature generations.

Coming in October 2012

Our new edited book “Managing the New Workforce: International Perspectives on the Millennial Generation” is now available for pre-order with an expected publication date of October 2012.  Visit Edward Elgar for more information or to pre-order your copy.