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More on the So-Called Generation Gap

Posted by: Jena McGregor on August 7, 2007

I wrote a few weeks ago about how often I hear consultants go on and on about the generational divide at work. Judging by what you hear from workplace consultants these days, you’d think Generation Y was populated by alien life forms never before seen on this planet. The undercurrent message: Surely, all you poor Boomers need to hire a workplace consultant to help you deal with all those crazy kids.

Of course, Generation Y does come with its own quirks and characteristics. But according to two recent studies, they really want the same things we all do. Jennifer Deal, a research scientist with the Center for Creative Leadership, accumulated seven years of research in a book last year, “Retiring the Generation Gap: How Employees Young & Old Can Find Common Ground.” Her findings, though not surprising, remind us that we’re not all that different. No one really likes change. Everyone wants to learn and develop. We all like getting feedback on how we’re doing.

And in March, human resources consulting firm Watson Wyatt released a study that says all age groups want essentially the same things to stay engaged in our jobs: “strategic direction and leadership,” “rewards/pay & benefits,” and “communication.” Those three issues are in the exact same order for every age group except we money-grubbing thirtysomethings. Apparently, we were the only group honest enough to say rewards keep us more engaged in our jobs than “strategic direction.”

Reader Comments

Brandon W

August 7, 2007 11:42 AM

A lot of us 30-somethings grew up in the 1980's, surrounded by Yuppie-ism and a mindset exemplified in the 1987 movie "Wall Street". We also watched our parents get laid off after committing their lives to their company. We learned that loyalty means nothing and you better take every penny you can get while you've got the chance.


August 8, 2007 11:25 AM

That makes sense. People in their 30s are also often starting families, so money becomes more of an issue if you want to send your kids to college or buy a home.

Aaron H

August 9, 2007 12:01 PM

I agree w/Nicole. We have a young family, we're always concerned about paying for school, considering private schools, as well as the expenses that come with a growing family.
30-somethings who are married or have kids have really good reasons for keeping money on the top of the list.

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