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Attitudes About Work In General

Upon taking a new position, nearly 8 out of 10 government employees think the following thoughts:

  • The job provides me with great benefits, allowing me to pursue other life interests (84%).
  • I am satisfied with my position and the work that I do (77%).

Being satisfied with the position and the work is an opinion shared equally across the three generations.

Ambitious millennials, always with an eye to the future, are the employees most likely to think about their new job as a stepping-stone to higher-level jobs outside their current organization. They are also more likely to think about how their current job will help build their resume.

Members of Generation X, as they wait for older co-workers to retire, often wonder much more than baby boomers about when they will have an opportunity to advance. However, Gen Xers wonder much less about advancement than millennials.

Baby boomers are more apt than Gen Xers to say that they plan to hold their position until they retire. Likewise, members of Generation X are significantly more apt to express the same sentiment than are millennials.

Asked to select three statements that most typify their attitudes toward work, the public sector employees surveyed chose

  • Provides me with an income that is needed (57%),
  • Provides me with medical benefits (30%),
  • Working itself is basically interesting and satisfying to me (26%), and
  • Allows me to challenge myself (26%).

A one-way ANOVA was run to examine which attitudes employees of different generations shared or hold more strongly than older or younger co-workers. “Provides me with an income that is needed” was a statement selected more often by millennial and baby boomer workers than by Generation X employees. “Provides me with medical benefits” was chosen much more often by baby boomers and Gen Xers than by millennials. “Working itself is basically interesting and satisfying to me” is much more in line with baby boomers’ attitudes than with the attitudes of Gen Xers and millennials. “Allows me to challenge myself” is a statement that describes millennial and Generation X employees’ attitudes toward work more than it does baby boomers’ attitudes.

It seems that millennials and Gen Xers have work attitudes aligned with the realities of today’s workplace, where even a “permanent” job can be temporary. This makes the younger and middle-aged cohorts focused on the next job down the line. Thus, members of Generation X and millennials are more likely to say about work that “I want to learn as many skills as possible at my current job, as I realize that having skills that are portable is important to getting a better job in the future.” Furthermore, millennials are much more apt to make the statement that “work is a place for me to gain experience for future professional opportunities.”

Being community-minded, Generation X employees are much more likely to report that working “provides a rewarding way to give back to the country and community.”

Workplace Preferences