Millennials’ (Lack of) Attitude Problem: An Empirical Examination of Generational Effects on Work Attitudes
- 8.1k Downloads
The purpose of this study is to contribute to the sparse empirical literature on generational differences at work by examining (1) the effect of generation on work attitudes (e.g., job satisfaction, job security, and turnover intentions) and (2) how Millennials’ work attitudes differ from prior generations.
Data were collected from a diverse sample of U.S. employees (N = 115,044) obtained from 18 years of repeated administrations of the Kenexa WorkTrends™ employee opinion survey. The data were analyzed using a hierarchical age-period-cohort regression model which has been recommended for the analysis of generational effects using repeated cross-sectional data.
In general, work attitudes differed across generations, although effect sizes were relatively small and depended on the work attitude. Compared to Boomers and Gen Xers, Millennials reported higher levels of overall company and job satisfaction, satisfaction with job security, recognition, and career development and advancement, but reported similar levels of satisfaction with pay and benefits and the work itself, and turnover intentions.
While generational differences do exist, whether they warrant special programs for Millennials is debatable. The cost of tailoring an intervention to each generation should be weighed against the potential benefits of considering generational differences.
To our knowledge, no study has empirically examined differences in work attitudes across five generations while controlling for the confounding effects of age and time period.
KeywordsGenerational differences Millennials Gen Y Work attitudes WorkTrends HAPC
- Barrick, M. R., Mount, M. K., & Judge, T. A. (2001). Personality and performance at the beginning of the new millennium: What do we do now and where do we go next? Personality and Performance, 9, 9–30.Google Scholar
- Cassidy, J. J., & Berube, D. (2009, April). Understanding generational differences through measurement: Identifying trends and developing recommendations for Gen Y. Paper presented at the annual conference of the Society of Industrial Organizational Psychology, New Orleans.Google Scholar
- Davis, J. B., Pawlowski, S. D., & Houston, A. (2006). Work commitments of Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers in the IT profession: Generational differences or myth? Journal of Computer Information Systems, Spring, 43–49.Google Scholar
- Deal, J. J. (2007). Retiring the generation gap: How employees young and old can find common ground. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
- Dudley, C. M., Burnfield-Geimer, J., & Erdheim, J. (2009, April). Generational differences in federal government employee attitudes and perceptions. Paper presented at the annual conference of the Society of Industrial Organizational Psychology, New Orleans.Google Scholar
- Giancola, F. (2006). The generation gap: More myth than reality. Human Resource Planning, 29, 32–37.Google Scholar
- Howe, N., & Strauss, W. (2000). Millennials rising: The next great generation. New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
- Hulin, C. L., & Judge, T. A. (2003). Job attitudes: A theoretical and empirical review. In W. C. Borman, D. R. Ilgen, & R. J. Klimoski (Eds.), Handbook of psychology (Vol. 12, pp. 255–276). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar
- Jurkiewicz, C. L. (2000). Generation X and the public employee. Public Personnel Management, 29, 55–74.Google Scholar
- Kleinfield, N. R. (1996). A new and unnerving workplace. In The downsizing of America (pp. 37–76). New York: The New York Times Company, Inc.Google Scholar
- Mannheim, K. (1952). The problem of generations. In Essays on the sociology of knowledge (pp. 276–322). London: Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd.Google Scholar
- Raudenbush, S. W., & Bryk, A. S. (2002). Hierarchical linear models: Applications and data analysis methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
- Raudenbush, S., Bryk, A., & Congdon, R. (2007). HLM (Version 6.04) [Computer software]. Lincolnwood, IL: Scientific Software International.Google Scholar
- Safer, M. (2007). 60 Minutes: The “Millennials” are coming [television broadcast]. New York: CBS Corporation.Google Scholar
- Strauss, W., & Howe, N. (1991). Generations: The history of America’s future, 1584 to 2069. New York, NY: William Morrow & Company, Inc.Google Scholar
- Tett, R. P., & Meyer, J. P. (1993). Job satisfaction, organizational commitment, turnover intention, and turnover: Path analyses based on meta-analytic findings. Personnel Psychology, 46, 259–293.Google Scholar
- The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. (2004). Rolling stone. Retrieved July 31, 2009, from http://www.rollingstone.com/news/coverstory/500songs.
- Townshend, P. (1965a). My generation [recorded by The Who]. On my generation [record]. UK: Brunswick Studio.Google Scholar
- Townshend, P. (1965b). My generation [recorded by Green Day]. On Kerplunk! [CD]. Berkeley, CA: Lookout! Records. (1992).Google Scholar
- Townshend, P. (1965c). My generation [recorded by Hillary Duff]. On Hillary Duff [CD]. Burbank, CA: Hollywood Records (2004).Google Scholar
- Trunk, P. (2007). What Gen Y really wants. Retrieved July 26, 2009, from Time Magazine, http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1640395,00.html.
- U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. (n.d.). Total mass layoff events. Retrieved July 31, 2009, from http://www.bls.gov/mls/home.htm.