Younger workers ‘less motivated by money and more ethical’

Flexibility in the workplace is important for all generations, with two thirds saying the option to work beyond the narrow nine-to-five boundaries drives their choice of employer, according to an intergenerational survey of staff by KPMG.

The survey finds younger workers are less likely to be motivated by money and more likely to choose ethical employers. Some 58% of those from Generation Y are more likely to be content earning ‘enough’, rather than constantly striving for more – a figure that drops to 48% amongst Baby Boomers. In addition, 55% of Generation Y say that the corporate social responsibility record of a company would influence their choice of employer, compared to 45% of Generation X.

The survey of 1,500 employees suggests younger generations are also less likely to be attached to a single employer and their objectives. One in four (24%) Generation Y respondents believe that “individuals will increasingly challenge and question their organisation’s purpose”, compared to a mere one in ten (12%) of Baby Boomers. Moreover, nearly 40% of Generation Z believes that individuals will increasingly work for more than one organisation at the same time, compared to just 25% of Baby Boomers.

The survey also shows growing tensions between younger workers and their older colleagues who may be perceived as blocking their career progression.  Nearly half (46%) said that older members of staff need to retire so that younger workers have a genuine chance of career progression and the same amount felt that a much older workforce would reduce productivity. Only 20% of respondents believe that employees will want to retain older workers to learn from their experience – the suggestion being that many of those employed recently are unconvinced about the benefits that older workers can bring.

However, the survey also shows a growing acceptance that older workers will have to continue working for longer as the retirement age rises. The vast majority of respondents believe that insufficient pensions will become more commonplace due to longer life expectancy, with 81% saying that as a result of living longer, more people will end their lives in poverty. Two thirds also believe that people will be forced to work until they die.

“As people remain in the workplace for longer, older workers will inevitably constitute a larger proportion of the workforce. Although this may breed the pernicious perception that the younger generation will lose out, this does not have to be the case. Far from it – an older workforce brings a wealth of experience and Baby Boomers can potentially adopt the invaluable role of coach or mentor to those entering the workplace.  The companies who succeed will be those who take advantage of what older workers can bring to the table, in a way that is both innovative and inclusive.  They will be the ones who can find a way for the Baby Boomers in their workforce to be enablers for the young rather than blockers,” says Robert Bolton, partner and co-lead of KPMG’s HR global centre of excellence.”

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