Uncertain economy beats Gen Y into shape: survey

Renowned for their arrogance and fleeting company ties, Generation Y workers are now more loyal thanks the adverse economic climate a new survey has revealed.

The impact of the economic slowdown on work attitudes has been greatest among Generation Y (18 to 29) where 31 per cent say the downturn has made them more loyal, compared with 28 per cent of Generation X (30 to 47) and 26 per cent of baby boomers (48 to 65).

The findings are part of the Kelly Global Workforce Index, which obtained the views of approximately 134,000 people, including more than 20,000 in Australia conducted between October 2009 and January 2010.

Generally, 29 per cent of employees say the economic downturn has made them more loyal, while 7 per cent say it has made them less loyal and 64 per cent say it has made no difference.

With most CIOs in the “baby boomer” bracket, they are the least likely to be more loyal are a result of the downturn.

Some 44 per cent of respondents say they feel “totally committed” to their current employer, ranging from 47 per cent among baby boomers, 44 per cent for Gen X and 43 per cent for Gen Y.

What one factor would be most likely to cause a person in IT to leave an organisation? At 27 per cent a piece it’s a dead heat between “poor management” and “lack of opportunities for advancement”.

Other “push” factors include poor salary and benefits, poor communication, poor staff morale, inadequate work-life balance, stress and concern with corporate reputation.

Chris Gardner, CIO of Penrith City Council in western Sydney, said he definitely agrees that people will be more loyal in times of economic uncertainty, particularly people who like to travel.

“Staff are less likely to travel overseas if they are unsure what will be waiting when they get back,” Gardner said.

In addition to economic factors, Gardner says people are more likely to be loyal when they are working close to home for better work-life balance.

“We are stable so I have everyone staying,” he said, adding people will change jobs for a better opportunity but will always consider travelling time and work-life balance.

Across the IT industry people are generally committed to their current employer (45 per cent), and telecommuting ranks in the middle as “somewhat important” with 52 per cent of respondents.

IT people also enjoy a challenge more than money, with 42 per cent saying “more interesting or challenging work” as the one thing would make then feel more committed or engaged with their job.

Kelly Services Australia managing director Karen Colfer said employers who have communicated openly with their staff about the difficult economic conditions and who have tried their best to look after staff have been able to build strong levels of trust.

“This heightened loyalty is likely to become a real advantage, with a more committed and focussed workforce, as the economy recovers,” she said.

“When we look at the things that motivate people in the workplace, it’s clear that opportunities for personal growth and development are critical, as is the chance to perform stimulating and challenging work. Pay is certainly a motivator but it’s not as big as some imagine [so] employers have to examine a broader range of employee conditions if they want to have the workforce performing at its best.”

More information about the survey results is online at: Kelly Services.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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