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Employees Value Company Stability

August 18 2010 - Employees of all ages are placing greater emphasis on company stability when making career decisions but four out of ten of those surveyed for specialized staffing firm Robert Half International said they are more likely to consider moving to new organizations as a result of the recession.

Kathryn Bolt, president of Canadian operations said:

"Our research reveals that there are several parallels across generations, which may be partly attributed to recent economic challenges. As the job market rebounds, understanding what motivates employees can help companies augment their recruitment and retention efforts."

The conclusions are based on a survey of more than 1400 professionals from Canada and the United States in full-time employment who have, or are studying for, university degrees. This included 502 hiring managers. Respondents came from across the age range: baby boomers (approximately 46 to 64 years old); Generation X (approximately 32 to 45 years old) and those from Generation Y (approximately 21 to 31 years old) meeting the academic criteria for the study.

Other significant findings include:

  • Pay is not keeping up with performance - 37 per cent of respondents felt they were not being fairly compensated for greater workloads associated with the recession.
  • Work is more engaging - 28 per cent agreed they were more involved in their work as a result of the recession.
  • Generational views on post-recession career progression differ - Among the youngest employees, the most popular plan was to look for a new job as the economy recovers. Those from Generation X were more inclined to update their skills. Baby boomers most commonly responded that they intend staying with their current employers.
  • Cross-generational teams bring challenges and rewards - While 72 per cent of hiring managers agreed that managing multi-generational teams poses a challenge, more than one-third of employees felt that teams incorporating different levels of experience increase productivity.
  • Retirement plans are being put on hold - 46 per cent of respondents believe they will work beyond the traditional retirement age, more than one-third said the recent recession has had a very significant impact on their retirement plans.

Researchers identified a number of similar responses across the generations surveyed. Working for a stable company and job security were identified as two of the most important aspects of the work environment, valued more than a short commute or working for a socially responsible company. Salary, company stability and benefits were considered the most important factors when evaluating offers of employment. The most valued benefits were extended healthcare coverage, dental coverage, vacation time and Registered Retirement Savings Plan matching. Among those planning to work past the traditional retirement age, the great majority cited the recession as an important factor in their decision, regardless of their current age. The most commonly cited benefit associated with being part of multi-generational teams was the concentration of different experience providing specialist knowledge.

The survey also identified some significant generational differences, especially with regard to post-recession career progression:

  • 36 per cent of respondents from Gen Y planned to look for new job opportunities compared to 30 per cent from Gen X and 24 per cent of the baby boomers;
  • Respondents from Gen X were more inclined to enhance their skills sets (38 per cent) and build tenure with their existing companies (33 per cent) than other generations;
  • More than half of baby boomers surveyed (54 per cent) said they would work past the traditional retirement age compared to 46 per cent of Gen X and 39 per cent of Gen Y;
  • More from Gen X had increased their retirement savings since the recession (34 per cent compared to 27 per cent of baby boomers);
  • Over half of baby boomers (54 per cent) felt the greatest challenge working with multiple generations was 'differing work ethics and approaches to work/life balance' (compared to 45 per cent from Gen X and 35 per cent from Gen Y). Respondents from Gen Y were more likely to identify 'differing communication styles' (29 per cent compared to 16 per cent for both Gen X respondents and baby boomers).

Kathryn Bolt commented:

"With the job market stabilising, many employees, particularly Gen Y professionals, may start to consider other employment opportunities. Developing a sound retention strategy, including the review of top performers' career paths and compensation levels should be a priority for companies looking to maximise emerging growth opportunities."

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