Employers failing to get to grips with Gen Y motivators

The report revealed that managers are underestimating how important the values of an organisation are to employees; as 13 per cent of 18-24 year olds said ‘values that reflect my own’ was an important consideration when choosing a company to work for, but just seven per cent of managers believed this to be the case

Becoming a manager and running a team isn’t cited as an important long term ambition by younger employees, according to new research from global people management business Penna.

The study, conducted amongst senior managers and employees aged between 18-34 (frequently referred to as Gen Y), illustrated a mismatch between what employers think their team members want from their careers in the long term, and what is actually most important to them.

Nearly a quarter (24 per cent) of employers believe that one of the most important ambitions for this generation is to have experienced lots of different jobs and sectors, and a fifth (20 per cent) think they’re motivated by wanting to be a manager and lead their own team. The employee research, however, split into 18 – 24 year old and 25 – 34 year old categories, showed that in fact work-life balance and a sense of fulfilment rank far higher on both groups’ surveyed long term priority lists.

The findings also demonstrated, that despite the age range of the 18-34 age group, both groups share exactly the same top three priorities when it comes to their long term ambitions – which are ‘earning a great salary’, ‘being totally fulfilled and happy in my work’, and ‘to have achieved a great work life balance’. However, employers believe that there is a significant difference in attitudes and priorities between those at the upper end of the group and those at the lower end.

Steven Ross, head of career development at Penna said: “This research has revealed two really important things – one, that we cannot just assume that younger generations in the workplace are automatically going to want to fill the shoes of todays’ leaders and managers, and two – that perhaps Gen Y aren’t as distinctly different from older generations as we thought.

“While organisations are doing pretty well at understanding some of the key motivators, there is work to be done in casting away stereotypes and making sure that managers invest time in regular career conversations with their teams to really understand what drives them. Simply guessing what will engage a Gen Y employee, or any employee for that matter, won’t work. Organisations that fail to do so could see a decline in engagement levels, and productivity, and increased attrition rates – not to mention a serious shortfall of managers and leaders in ten years’ time.”


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