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Career Development

Do people’s aspirations and motivations change according to their generation or age?

eye 636 Published on 16 Sep. 2019
tag #HR advice #Talent management

In the world of work, you’ll find no fewer than 3 generations of people: generation X (born 1965/1979), generation Y (born 1980/1995) and generation Z (born from 1995). Although they certainly cohabit the same professional environment, their professional needs and expectations are not the same. It’s commonplace to speak of a generation gap or a generation “shock”. The differences between the generations are striking, as demonstrated by the term “Millennials”, a concept referring to generation Y and one which has been widely marketed over recent years.

Maria Pia Donati, a psychological consultant for Central Test, explains the inter-generational expectations and motivations at work, drawing upon the results of the Professional Profile 2 personality and motivation test and the Vocation professional interests test, a study conducted by Jonathan Kennedy, a psychometrician for Central Test.

Constantly changing professional expectations

People’s perceptions of work have been constantly changing for the last 50 years. One of the main reasons for this is the possibility of changing employer more easily, enabling you to speed up the development of your career. “The results from the Professional Profile 2 test confirm this hypothesis. Indeed, it appears that generation Z are more ambitious than the more experienced generations, scoring higher on this aspect in comparison with generations X (+26%) and Y (+6%). More ambition entails a greater need for stimulation, for a challenge and for learning. This is why generation Z will readily change employer to meet their needs” explains Maria Pia Donati.

Desires and concerns influenced by the times

Changes in society and education combined of course with the rise of the new technologies are creating new digital occupations every day. It comes as no surprise therefore, to find that generation X is 15% more interested in manual and technical activities than generation Z. For its part, generation Y is 5% more interested in the sciences and new technologies than generation X, and generation Z 7% more interested than generation X, (results based on the Vocation test).

On this point, we should note that generation Y (the Millennials) is 9% more interested in occupations linked to data and figures when compared with generation X. Generation Z is 9% more interested in this factor than generation Y, opening up a gap of 24% between generations X and Z. It should also be noted that the Millennials are less interested in the social field (-15%) when compared to generation X. “These results may be linked to a profound change in mentality as a result of economic crises. It must not be forgotten that generation X grew up at a time of significant economic development, whereas generation Y experienced the crisis of 2008,” stresses Maria Pia Donati.

The central position occupied by finance, a love of figures and a quest for performance could explain a change in values and therefore in interests. “The new generations may therefore naturally be more interested in statistical data and sciences than by working in the social field or with their hands. Another interpretation is that new technologies, which are fundamentally scientific and mathematical, may have influenced the interests of the new generations and their work-related motivations,” concludes Maria Pia Donati.

However, it’s important to note that these results may be influenced not only by the generation to which the interviewees belong but also by their age. r It would not be surprising to find that the younger generations who are just entering the job market are more ambitious. Viewed from this angle, the fact that generations X and Y are keener to become managers would also be logical (+17.65 between X and Z). They have more experience and also wish to support the new generations and pass on their skills.

*Survey conducted in 2018, results based on 20,871 French and British interviewees for the Vocation test and 65,604 French interviewees for the Professional Profile 2.

Kate Gatens

Content Manager

Graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Communication and Marketing, Kate is in charge of the Editorial Strategy in Central Test. She is passionate about literature, communication, and new tech.

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