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Comparing Generations in the Workplace Shows Diversity, Challenges

HR leaders are grappling with the generational change in the workforce.

They are also dealing with the changing demographics of the country.

Data on these concerns comes in a variety of forms.

A new survey shows what is actually happening in the workplace.

PayScale, Inc. and Millennial Branding announced a comprehensive study comparing career trends amongst Baby Boomer (1946-1964), Gen X (1965-81) and Gen Y/Millenials (1982-2002) workers.

The 2013 study highlights both changing demographics in the United States, as well as the impact of the economic downturn of 2008 and the sluggish recovery the country has experienced. Boomers are still in top positions and may be delaying retirement due to the economy, preventing younger generations from moving into management roles. The percentage of Gen Y workers managing people declined from 15 percent in 2012 to 12 percent in 2013. Furthermore, due to the economic collapse, Millennials are starting their professional lives later than previous generations and many are unemployed or underemployed right now.

"The economy has delayed their careers and their personal independence and forced them to work harder than previous generations just to catch up," said Dan Schawbel, Founder of Millennial Branding and New York Times best-selling author of Promote Yourself. "They are taking on multiple jobs to pay back student loans and are being forced to create their own careers instead of relying on companies to do it for them.

Highlights from the report include:

  • Millennials are most likely to have had to move back home with their parents due to financial hardship after starting their careers (28 percent) compared to Gen X (11 percent) or Baby Boomers (5 percent).
  • More Baby Boomers (9 percent) wish they could change their boss (out of all the possible changes to their work situation) than Gen Y (6 percent) or Gen X (7 percent).
  • Baby Boomers are most likely to have the highest-paying jobs, including Chief Medical Officer (CMO) ($300,700), Psychiatrist ($215,200), and Aerospace Engineer ($122,800).
  • Gen X (7 percent) is more likely to have the option to work from home than Gen Y (5 percent) or Baby Boomers (5 percent).
  • Gen Y workers are more likely to work at small firms (<100 employees) than both Gen X or Baby Boomers (56 percent vs. 48 percent vs. 50 percent, respectively)
  • Gen Y reports the lowest levels of Job Satisfaction and Job Meaning, even though they also report the lowest levels of Job Stress.
  • After controlling for all other factors, there is only a 2-3 percent difference between male and female pay across all three generations, and that difference is the smallest for Gen Y.

“Similar to other studies, our research reinforces that the sluggish and uncertain economy has made a significant impact on the perspectives and experiences of not only Generation Y, but also Generation X and Baby Boomers,” said Katie Bardaro, lead economist for PayScale.

“It is also important to note the complexities that each generation possesses based upon so many economic, cultural, and sociological conditions and issues,” she added.



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