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21st Century Employees are Focused on The Next Level

By Melissa J. Anderson

Earlier this year, Accenture launched a global study on attitudes toward work. The report surveyed 3,400 executives from medium to large organizations in 29 countries. While the survey, launched in the lead-up to International Women’s Day, revealed interesting insight into how women feel about success and ambition, it also yielded significant data on how the different generations feel about their work.

One of the most striking insights revealed by the study is how dissatisfied people are with their current roles – yet the majority of people said they planned to stick with their employer in the long run.

LaMae Allen deJongh, Accenture’s Managing Director of U.S. Human Capital & Diversity explained, “Our research found an unusual workplace dynamic in that even though today’s professionals are dissatisfied with their jobs, they are focused on seeking the training, the resources, and the people that can help them achieve their goals with their current employers.”

Overall less than half of the people surveyed said they were satisfied with their jobs (43 percent of women and 42 percent of men), but 7o percent said they were planning to stay with their companies. Instead, individuals are seeking personal development opportunities like continuing education and mentoring to get to the next level (59 percent of women and 57 percent of men). Today’s high-performing workforce, regardless of age, is not content to stagnate in the same role for years on end. Employees are focused on the next level.

Career Moves

The report, entitled “Reinvent Opportunity: Looking Through a New Lens,” showed that generations have different motivations for seeking career moves. For example, Gen Y was significantly more interested in changing jobs to pursue higher levels of compensation.

In fact, according to the study, every generation surveyed was interested in making more money, but 73 percent of Gen Y respondents said compensation was their main reason for seeking a new role, while 67 percent of Gen X and 58 percent of Baby Boomers said the same.

Conventional wisdom has held for the past few years that Gen Y is less interested in cold hard cash than their older peers, and more interested in “meaningful” or “flexible” jobs. Accenture’s research shows how important it is for employers to understand that if they aren’t paying Gen Y enough, they will leave.

In fact, according to the report, 54 percent of Gen Y respondents rated being underpaid as their top reason for job dissatisfaction. Only 39 percent of Baby Boomers and 44 percent of Gen X said the same.

Mentoring Generations

Additionally, the study revealed, generations approached mentoring differently. Across the generations, however, numbers of individuals with mentors were surprisingly low. According to the report, only 25 percent of Baby Boomers had worked with a mentor, while 32 percent of Gen X and 37 percent of Gen Y had.

The report continues, “Of these respondents, having a mentor help plan career moves was most popular among Generation X, compared to Baby Boomers or Generation Y (reported by 51 percent, 40 percent and 43 percent, respectively).” Baby boomers were more likely to use their mentor as a sounding board (49 percent compared to 42 percent and 39 percent for Gen X and Gen Y respectively). All three groups cited “provided guidance and advice” as the most frequent way a mentor has helped them.

Finally, the data show that when firms offer formal mentoring programs, they are used frequently. Of those respondents whose firms that do have a formal mentoring programs (79 percent), over three quarters (76 percent) did take advantage of them.

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