‘Generatieverschillen’ op het werk | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 31, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 0169-2216
  • E-ISSN: 2468-9424


Generational differences in work attitudes. A review of half a century of research.

Generational differences in work attitudes. A review of half a century of research.

The arrival of generation Y led to prejudice and speculations in practitioner literature. So far, the ample research that investigated generations at the workplace has failed to provide straight answers and is subject to theoretical and methodological issues. In this article, we provide a thorough literature overview, by reviewing the studies that have been conducted on generations in the workplace. In our analysis we make a distinction between findings that actually discuss generation trends (based on time lag designs) and findings that only give an indication about young people (cross-sectional research). We arrange our results in six clusters: job content and context, work-life balance, work related attitude and behavior, intrinsic and extrinsic motivators, social contacts at the workplace, and work outcomes. We conclude that results from the cross-sectional and time-lag studies often contradict each other. Age groups appear to differ on almost all six clusters. Generation differences on the other hand, are generally scarce or small. We therefore encourage practitioners to set up a policy that is adjusted to personal desires, needs and conditions of employees, instead of opting for a group based policy. A more general policy can be crafted around career development, training and general development, factors that members of all age groups find motivating and which are currently significantly more important than twenty years ago.


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