Research has uncovered a generational gap in job satisfaction. While Gen Z and millennial workers reported higher job satisfaction, they’re more likely to be looking for a new role. In contrast, older generations are significantly less satisfied at work but will stay put, contributing to ‘resenteeism’.
The study from Westfield Health found the majority of workers aged 18-24 were satisfied with their job (73%), yet more than half (55%) are considering a new role.
In comparison, workers aged 55-64 were less satisfied in their role (54%) but less than under a third expressed interest in moving jobs (30%).
This job satisfaction lifecycle is a conundrum for businesses and HR teams tasked with staff retention during tough times. To survive the current economic climate, they need the best talent on board but will also need to do more with less.
How can they hold onto younger employees who may leave with little warning, and engage older workers who might be unhappy in their role?
A blanket approach can no longer tackle the problems of a multi-generational workforce, meaning that companies need to consider the challenges employees are facing at different points in life and individual differences in what employees want.
Retaining younger workers
Younger workers are difficult to predict as they might report that they are happy in their current role, while still looking to move elsewhere. To keep younger talent, there needs to be a solid strategy to keep them engaged beyond simply checking if they’re happy.
Vicky Walker, Group Director of People at Westfield Health, gives her advice on how to keep young talent: “The younger generation presents a fresh challenge for businesses and HR teams. They’ll fly under the radar as a flight risk, but this could have a huge impact on employee turnover.
“With businesses in the middle of a testing financial crisis, having a more strategy-led approach to talent retention is important; this means it’s no longer enough to track job satisfaction and happiness.
“As young workers are more satisfied with their job yet more likely to leave, HR teams need to be more proactive. Engage with your younger talent and ask them what’s important to them and use this to inform a talent retention and benefits strategy.
“When someone does leave, carry out in-depth exit interviews to unpick their reasons for leaving so you can review where your strategy might need to change. Measuring the strategy is essential to track whether it’s having an impact on employee turnover and satisfaction.
“Different generations have different approaches to work and there will always be individual preferences on what support and benefits people want.”
Preventing ‘resenteeism’ in older workers
Older workers aren’t as much of a flight risk, but the problem is that they are more likely to be unhappy in their role and stay put, resulting in ‘resenteeism’. As well as impacting their own wellbeing and productivity, this is likely to filter into the rest of the workforce, contributing to toxic work cultures. They may not directly impact employee turnover but if they’re actively voicing their resentment for their role it will have a knock-on effect on other employees.
Vicky expands: “Even though on the surface businesses may not need to worry as much about retaining older workers, ‘resenteeism’ still can impact talent retention due to its effect on workplace culture.
“The trickle-down effects of a negative workplace culture can have a huge impact on your talent retention strategy. Ultimately, unhappy and disengaged employees aren’t good for the bottom line. As with younger workers, it’s important for older employees to be heard. If they feel valued, they’re less likely to feel disengaged and frustrated. Our research found, for example, that older workers were less likely to prefer benefits such as working from home or gym memberships to younger workers, but more likely to prefer private healthcare and health check-ups. However, everyone is different so asking your employees what they want is the best starting point for a strategy.
“Managers play an important role here to keep this generation of the workforce engaged and listening to their teams. It’s not just about benefits, looking at personal development going beyond pay and job title is important, too. The best way to keep people engaged is to create a culture of continuous improvement where their team members are encouraged to seek out new projects and skills. All these factors can help toward keeping workers engaged, bringing out their best and happiest selves.”
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