By Ruba Qaqish
Saskatchewan companies take pride in their strong work ethic. But some are concerned about whether the new generations of workers place the same value on hard work. The findings of a 2017 Finnish study[i] run counter to what many entrepreneurs perceive.
The study, which focused on Generation Y (or the Millennials), who were born in or after the 1980s and entered the labour market in the 2000s, found that in fact there is no difference in work ethic. “Our results show there are no grounds for concern over young people’s work orientation: It is not growing weaker.” But the researchers did offer some insights into the current workforce, and here’s what that means to Saskatoon companies that are hiring and managing staff.
Education level and work appreciation
People with basic education value gainful employment more than those with higher education. This relationship between education level and work appreciation has not changed for newer generations.
However, young people with a higher level of education value employment more than older people with the same level of education. This fact may be attributable to the younger generation studying for a higher degree at a younger age: better-educated labour market newcomers are keen to start their careers.
Readiness to change jobs
While young people are keener to change jobs than members of older age groups are, this only reflects youths’ search for direction. Young people need to find their place in the labour market. Once they do, they are highly committed to the workplace.
Again, perhaps surprisingly, the research could not confirm the assumption that Generation Y is more willing to change jobs than older people are.
It is worth mentioning that young people today are showing greater individuality in their transitions from education to the labour market and are better placed to make independent choices and even to get employers to compete for their services to secure a better contract and to pledge their commitment.
Family and leisure
Analyzing work orientation includes looking at family and leisure. The value attached to family and to leisure has increased among all wage earners across all generations, not just with the younger generation.
In recent years, young people have attached more value to family than older generations have. In fact, younger people consider family and leisure the most important parts of life. This suggests that young people are eager to have both diversity and balance in their lives.
All in all, the appreciation of wage employment and workplace commitment has remained quite stable over the past three decades. At the same time, both family and especially leisure have become more important.
The results of this research do not support the claim, widespread in popular media, that the Millennials and their distinctive characteristics will be forcing work organizations to make radical changes. Work orientation across generations shows more signs of permanence and continuity than of difference and conflict. This might be cause to ask whether a new breed of labour even exists.
[i] Pyöriä, Pasi; Ojala, Satu; Saari, Tiina; & Järvinen, Katri-Maria (2017). The Millennial Generation: A New Breed of Labour? SAGE Open 7(1): 1–14. DOI: 10.1177/2158244017697158. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2158244017697158
First published in the June 2018 edition of The Business Advisor.