What does it take to attract and retain good employees? Apparently, that depends on what kind of employee you’re talking about. While both men and women value the same characteristics in their jobs, a recent study by the Pew Research Center reports, different generations vary widely in what they care about most at work.
Overall, the study found, money doesn’t matter nearly as much as enjoyment. Almost 45 percent of respondents say their biggest job priority is having work they enjoy. About one-third say job security, work-life balance and good benefits are top priorities, too. Salary came in way down on the scale, with just 19% of Millennials, 22% of Gen Xers and 17% of Boomers saying a big paycheck is a top priority for them.
But when you break down employees into different generations, there is a lot of variation in what they value—typically related to their life stage and family situation. For example:
- Millennials and Gen Xers are more likely to value opportunities for advancement than Baby Boomers, who are already at or near the peak of their careers.
- In fact, Millennials are more ambitious than any other demographic. Nearly two-thirds say they want to be a top executive someday, compared to just half of Gen Xers and 26 percent of Boomers.
- Millennials, men and minorities are more likely than non-Millennials, women and whites to say they aspire to be the boss someday. For example, 52 percent of men, compared to 38 percent of women, want to be the boss; 70 percent of African-American men do, compared to 50 percent of white men.
- Parents with children under 18 (in most cases, Millennials and Gen Xers) are most likely to value jobs that allow them to take time off for child care and family issues. More than 40 percent say this is extremely important, while just 27 percent of childless employees do.
What does it mean for your business?
- Be sure to offer policies that suit your core employees’ interests. For instance, if you have a lot of young parents on staff, offering flexible hours or work-at-home options will help keep them satisfied. If your employees are mostly young and single, focus on training and development to help them meet their goals for advancement.
- Emphasize the “right stuff” in your employment ads. You may want to tailor your ads based on where they are appearing. For instance, if you’re advertising on college job boards for entry-level workers, focus on advancement opportunities to attract eager Millennials; if you’re targeting more experienced workers, flexible hours will get their attention.
- Play fair. You need to offer the same benefits and perks to everybody or risk running afoul of labor laws, so don’t offer flextime to moms and not to anyone else. Just make sure the benefits and perks you do offer appeal to the widest swath of your employees.
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