Generational Differences in Workplace Expectations: A Comparison of Production and Professional Workers
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Much of the extant literature regarding generational cohort differences has been conducted on college-educated participants, a potential bias noted by previous researchers. The present study therefore examines generational cohort differences in workplace expectations between professional (i.e., “white-collar,” largely college educated) and production (i.e., “blue-collar,” largely non-college educated) workers. Using online survey data from 2,799 union workers employed by the same organization, we compared expectations when first hired as well as current workplace expectations between professional and production workers from three different generational cohorts (i.e., Gen Y, Gen X, and Baby Boomer). We found evidence for generational differences that confirms some of the common characterizations of Gen Y workers; however, this characterization was principally found within our professional subgroup of Gen Y employees. Further, the data suggest that other factors (e.g., workplace experiences, maturation effects) may shape current workplace expectations more than do generational differences. These results suggest that concern over generational differences may be limited to certain workplace expectations and to specific subgroups of employees.
KeywordsGenerational differences White and blue-collar workers Workplace expectations
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