At Work, Desire for Discourse Differs Among Generations

A new survey finds that the Generation Y work force wants more feedback, better access to managers and greater social interaction than their older counterparts.

One-quarter of workers among both Generation X (those born between 1961 and 1981) and Generation Y (born between 1977 and 2003) said that beyond formal reviews, they would like feedback from their bosses at least once a week, if not every day, in a survey released Oct. 18 by New York-based Hudson Index, a staffing, outsourcing and talent management solutions provider and publisher of employment market data.

This sentiment was shared by only 20 percent of baby boomer (born between 1946 and1964) respondents and 11 percent of traditionalists (born between 1925 and 1945).

"The challenge for employers is to first understand the differences within their work force and then come up with strategies and processes to attract, engage and retain top talent that make the most sense for their business," said Robert Morgan, chief operating officer of talent management for Hudson North America, in a statement. "Most importantly, they need to understand what motivates the talent in their organization, because nothing is black and white, especially when dealing with employees. Its all shades of gray."

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Generational differences were also seen in views of the importance of access to managers. Forty-eight percent of Generation X respondents and 55 percent of Generation Y respondents considered it important to work in the same office as their boss, compared with 44 percent of baby boomers and 41 percent of traditionalists.

Sixty-nine percent of traditionalists reported it was very or somewhat important to have direct access to senior management, a number that jumps to 81 percent for Generation Y respondents.

Different age groups reported varying interest levels in socializing with their superiors, with Generation Y, at 26 percent, expressing the greatest interest. Interest in frequent social interaction with managers fell to 21 percent among Generation X, 16 percent among baby boomers and 17 percent among traditionalists.

Less surprisingly, despite a strong preference from each generation for face-to-face interactions with their managers, Generation X and Generation Y workers were more willing to embrace e-mail and instant messaging to communicate.