Managing

The hardest-working generation? Gen X outstrips the boomers, while Gen Y want the money: study

Myriam Robin /

The generation that brought us grunge and ripped jeans is also the generation who works the hardest in the workplace. Or at least, that’s what the HR directors think, a study revealed yesterday.

Career management firm Directioneering interviewed 170 human resource professionals across Australia, asking them a series of questions about managing workers from different generations.

The baby boomers, defined by the study as those aged 50-64, were identified as the most loyal (by 79% of respondents, while Gen X (aged 35-49 years) were deemed to work the hardest (by 45% of respondents).

Gen Y, on the other hand, was deemed the “most mercenary”, with 51% of respondents putting those aged 18-34 in this category.

Only 3% of respondents deemed Gen Y the “hardest working”.

It wasn’t all good news for baby boomers either though. The HR professionals thought they lacked ambition, and were the least comfortable with change in the workplace.

More than half (59%) thought Gen Y had the most need of clear career progression, while 57% said they wanted ongoing training.

Gen Y was also perceived as the most willing to accept change (by 43% of respondents) and the most likely to want to be challenged (by 37%). Gen X weren’t far behind on both of those traits though.

Directioneering International’s managing director, Nick Plummer, said the results showed businesses needed to think about how to meet the different needs of the workforce.

“HR professionals are recognising that employees of different generations have different needs and aspirations, and therefore need a tailored approach to talent and career management rather than a one-size-fits-all strategy,” he said.

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Myriam Robin

Myriam Robin is a reporter for SmartCompany and its sister site LeadingCompany. She has degrees in economics, international studies and journalism. She likes writing about businesses taking risks and doing new things.

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