Young Workers Pressured by Older Generations
A study carried out for KPMG has found that, as the UK’s workforce demographic becomes older, so the younger generations of workers feel that Generation X and the baby boomers are damaging the youngsters’ career paths.
As the number of over 65s in the UK workforce tops a million, according to ONS’ Labour Market Statistics (June 2013), so the younger generations believe that the older workers are blocking their way.
In a poll of 1,500 people, the figures seem to indicate a tension amongst young workers as nearly half of them (46%) believe that, in order to progess along their career paths, older workers need to move out of the way and retire.
A similar number of youngsters believed that older workers were a drain on productivity and just a fifth of young workers (20%) expected to learn from the business experience of their elders. There is a concern that young workers appear unconvinced with the benefits that older generations of employees can bring.
At the same time, there also seems to be a growing acceptance that older workers will have to stay on and work due to an increase in life expectancy and the fact that pension funds may not be as generous as they were for previous generations and that inadequate provisions are forcing people to work longer.
Generation Y have a different attitude than older generations with 58% of them expecting to simply to earn "enough" rather than striving for more. For baby boomers, only 48% are content with earning enough.
Telling, the new generation’s attitude to money appears to be less important than the ethics of the businesses they work for – Whilst only 45% of Generation X said that corporate responsibility was an important factor in influencing who they worked for, with Generation Y that figure has increased to 55%.
Another factor that is important to Gen Y and Gen Z is flexibility – Gone are the days of sticking to just one employer and simply working the 9 to 5. The latest workforce are a more dynamic breed with 40% of Generation Z expecting to work for more than one employer.
Appearing to be more driven and self-confident, the newest recruits to the workforce are seemingly more willing to challenge authority meaning that they are prepared to ask questions of their employers’ direction and purpose.
Robert Bolton, partner and co-lead at KPMG’s HR global centre of excellence, said of the latest data:
“As people remain in the workplace for longer, older workers will inevitably constitute a larger proportion of the workforce. Although this may breed the pernicious perception that the younger generation will lose out, this does not have to be the case. Far from it – an older workforce brings a wealth of experience and Baby Boomers can potentially adopt the invaluable role of coach or mentor to those entering the workplace.”
Taking the positives from the findings, Bolton said that businesses can turn this information to their advantage, adding:
“The companies who succeed will be those who take advantage of what older workers can bring to the table, in a way that is both innovative and inclusive. They will be the ones who can find a way for the Baby Boomers in their workforce to be enablers for the young rather than blockers.”
The findings come as KPMG releases a number of articles on the workforce, from the inadequacy of pension pots to a fear of the lack of emerging talent.