Millennials in the workplace: not as different as you think – The Conversation

Extract from an article by Nick Haslam

Comparing generations is a reliable way to provoke an argument. Members of one generation are apt to criticise the failings of others and be blind to their own. As George Orwell wrote: “Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it”.

Mutual recriminations are often keenest in the realm of work. Younger workers mock the technological incompetence of their elders, who criticise the laziness and entitlement of youth.

The embers of generational conflict are fanned by popular writers and consultants who advise on how to manage Gen-Y millennials in the office, as if they were an invasive species.

But just how different are the generations in their approach to work? To date there has been surprisingly little good research on the topic. Many studies have compared workers of different ages at a single point in time, tending to find few if any robust differences in job satisfaction, organisational commitment or turnover intentions.

Unfortunately, findings from these “cross-sectional” studies are ambiguous because they may tell us more about age than generation. Comparing 18-year-old and 48-year-old workers at the present time may lead us to mistake differences in maturity for generational effects.

To clarify inter-generational differences we should compare 18-year-olds now with contemporary 48-year-olds when they were 18. A new study, published in the journal Work, Aging and Retirement, has done just that…(continues)

SOURCE: Nick Haslam, “Millennials in the workplace: not as different as you think”, The Conversation, 07 March 2017

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