I have never fully bought the idea that the divide between the generations is all that wide. A little while back, I had the privilege of doing a keynote at the Sauder School of Business. In speaking with these future leaders and decision makers it really hit home how much more in common the generations have than we popularly believe.
I know that each generation might use different tools and ways to communicate but fundamentally I believe we want similar things. Like these young men and women, I remember entering the workforce thinking about how I wanted to help make the world a better place and how things could be done differently. I was eager to make a difference and often frustrated with the barriers I perceived those ahead of me placed in my way.
Now comes some interesting research from York’s School of Human Resource Management to back up my hunches. One of the key findings was that employees of all generations are basically looking for and motivated by similar things. Meaningful work was one of the most significant factors identified. It was linked to higher levels of engagement, satisfaction, commitment and intent to stay.
In this study, meaningful work was measured as work that enables an employee to realize their full potential, values and goals, make a positive impact and increase their feelings of personal accomplishment. It’s certainly been my experience of working across numerous sectors that having work that serves all these things is critical to career satisfaction…no matter what the generation.
Among other things, these findings drive home the need for companies to have clearly defined Vision, Mission and Values statements that are easily understood and are well communicated. It’s critical that all people in any company understand how their work fits into the big pic.
The final piece that this research really highlights is the need for there to be a strong match between a person’s personal goals & values and that of any particular position. Young and old alike, increasingly people are looking for more than just paychecks. They are looking for work that is both meaningful and fulfilling. In this way, again, the generations seem to see eye to eye.