Talkin' 'bout my generation: Managing age diversity in the workplace
Ed Ng, associate professor in the Faculty of Management, along with colleagues from the University of Guelph and Carleton University, surveyed over 3,000 Canadians as part of the Generational Career Shift Project. Their three-year study asked participants to describe career experiences and answer questions about job expectations and priorities, with the hope of discovering how different generations view expectations, experiences, attitudes and outcomes as their careers progress.
The researchers surveyed members of four successive generations: matures, born before 1945; baby boomers, born between 1946-1964; generation Xers, born between 1965-1979; and millenials, born between 1980-1992.
The study found that the average expected first-year salary for millennials entering the workforce was $48,860 for men and $42,060 for women. While those numbers aren't entirely unreasonable, millennials expect a substantial increase in salary over the first five years of their career, with their yearly income increasing to $84,868 for men and $67,766 for women. They also expect their salaries to peak at $171,036 and $125,664 respectively; according to Statistics Canada, only 4 per cent of Canadians earn more than $100,000 each year.
Although the differences between generational career patterns are like night and day, the work priorities that are on every generation’s list include interesting work, job security, benefits, achievements, supportive supervisors, salary, and having the necessary information to do one’s job.
“There’s been a very interesting shift in workplace dynamics. The baby boomers are supposed to have retired by now but since the economy is bad and we’ve done away with mandatory retirement, boomers are sticking around longer. Now you have baby boomers, generation Xers, and millenials all working under the same roof with very different workplace behaviours.” -Ed Ng, associate professor, associate professor, Faculty of Management, Dalhousie University.
“It became clear to us that gen-Xers were the most unhappy of the generations. If you think about it, they’re sandwiched between making headway in their careers, raising a family, and taking care of aging parents. This creates a very unhappy situation.” -Ed Ng, associate professor, Faculty of Management, Dalhousie University.
“We also found it interesting that millennials placed such a high emphasis on work-life balance. These are people who typically aren’t married, have no kids, and very little responsibility. What we found was that they placed high importance on leisure activities. Millennials expect an average of five years off work for child-rearing and travel activities, on top of high salary expectations.” -Ed Ng, associate professor, Faculty of Management, Dalhousie University.
“Boomers show up to work at 8:30 a.m., take their one-hour lunch, and leave at 4:30 p.m. Millennials stroll in at 9:30 a.m. or 10 a.m. and may stay until 6 p.m. or 7 p.m. Boomers see this as sloppy, so there can be a lot of conflict in the workplace when you have both generations working side-by-side.” -Ed Ng, associate professor, Faculty of Management, Dalhousie University.
"Millennials are used to being asked for their opinion. This usually starts at home with parents asking their kids where they want to go on vacation, what they want for supper, etc. And so when Millennials enter the workplace and aren't consulted on organizational decisions, they get frustrated." --Ed Ng, associate professor, Faculty of Management, Dalhousie University.
|Dr. Ed Ng |