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Generations at work

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Thursday October 08, 2015 Written by  Retain Canada
High school students are nearly three times as likely as current workers to say they need to make $200,000 or more to feel successful.

The new survey from CareerBuilder looked at how the next generation of workers compares to America’s current workforce in terms of work-life beliefs and expectations.

“With the next generation of workers preparing to enter the workforce, now is the time for companies to adjust their recruitment and retention strategies to guarantee the success of all workers and strengthen the bottom line,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer with CareerBuilder. “While workplace expectations can vary widely among different generations, one thing they have in common is they want to be successful in their positions. Introducing programs that promote learning and collaboration – such as mentoring – can help workers of all generations achieve that together.”

Money matters

When asked what salary they feel they need to earn to be successful, one in four current workers (25 per cent) felt they would be successful making less than $50,000 a year. That’s a sentiment shared by only 18 per cent of high school students.

In fact, high school students are nearly three times as likely as current workers to say they need to make $200,000 or more to feel successful (13 per cent versus five per cent).

Defining success

The majority of both current workers (76 per cent) and high school students (81 per cent) define success in a career as the ability to provide a comfortable life for themselves and their families.

Both groups also agree that having a good balance between work and personal life is a defining factor in success (71 per cent of current workers and 76 per cent of high school students).

High school students, however, are more likely to associate success with a sense of accomplishment (78 per cent, compared to 67 per cent of current workers); the ability to make a positive impact on people’s lives (78 per cent versus 47 per cent of current workers) and making a lot of money (53 per cent versus 33 per cent of current workers).

The gap grows even wider when it comes to a loftier goal: high school students were more than twice as likely as current workers to define success as “making a mark on this world” (54 per cent versus 22 per cent).

The ideal work environment

CareerBuilder asked workers to give their attitudes toward eight commonly debated areas of workforce culture.

  • On office attire: High school students and current workers have similar views on workplace wear. The vast majority of both groups (74 per cent of current workers and 70 per cent of high school students) feel one should be able to dress casually at work. Looking at specific age groups, 45 to 54-year-old workers (79 per cent) were more likely to agree with this statement than workers aged 18 to 24 (67 per cent) and 35 to 44 (72 per cent).
  • On promotions: When it comes to earning promotions, high school students display more optimism than working professionals. Eighty-seven per cent of high school students agree that one should be promoted every two to three years if one is doing a good job, compared to 73 per cent of current workers. Workers between the ages of 18 and 24 were closest to high school students’ level of agreement (81 per cent), and 45 to 54-year-old workers were the farthest (65 per cent).
  • On mobile usage: High school students (66 per cent) are more likely than current workers (52 per cent) to say it’s okay to check one’s mobile device for work during a family activity. Workers aged 25 to 34 (61 per cent) are more likely than workers aged 55 and older (43 per cent) to agree with this statement.
  • On job hopping: Though employers may expect younger workers to job hop more frequently, only 16 per cent of high school students believe one should only stay in a job for a year or two before moving on to better things (on par with 15 per cent of current workers). Among individual age groups, however, responses were more varied, with 25 to 34-year-old workers (22 per cent) more likely than their older counterparts to say a worker should move on after a year or two.
  • On career expectations: Workers across all generations seem to have similar perspectives when it comes to switching companies. Nearly one in three high school students (32 per cent) expect that they will work for 10 or more companies in their careers, similar to 28 per cent of workers who say the same.
  • On emoticons and email: Surprisingly, high school students appear to have more conservative views on electronic communication than today’s professionals. More than one in four current workers (28 per cent) believe it’s acceptable to use emoticons in emails and other electronic communication at work. Only one in five high school students (20 per cent) say the same.
  • On meeting etiquette: It may seem as if they are constantly on their mobile devices, but only 13 per cent of high school students agree that it is it is okay to check one’s mobile device during a work meeting, versus 21 per cent of current workers. Workers between the ages of 25 and 34 (28 per cent) are more likely than those aged 45 to 54 (18 per cent) and workers 55 and older (16 per cent) to be okay with checking a mobile device during a meeting.
  • On flexible hours: It may come as a surprise that high school students (25 per cent) were less likely than current workers (33 per cent) to say it shouldn’t matter what time you arrive to work as long as you get your work done. Workers aged 55 and older were the least likely to say arrival time doesn’t matter (23 per cent).

The national online survey, conducted on behalf of CareerBuilder by Harris Poll between May 14 and June 3, included a representative sample of more than 3,000 full-time, U.S. workers across industries and company sizes and more than 200 high school seniors.

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