A Disengaged Generation: Young Workers Disengaged by Pressures of Work Worldwide

NEW YORK, May 25, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Young workers around the world are lacking in engagement with their employers and are the most affected by perceived pressures at work, posing long-term retention and management problems for companies and countries, a new GfK study has found.

The study, conducted among more than 30,000 employees in 29 countries by GfK Custom Research, a global market research agency, finds a labor market polarized between disillusioned 18 to 29 year-olds and their older, possibly more resigned, counterparts.

Based on a 5000-interview survey conducted in the United States by GfK Custom Research North America, young employees are undergoing the same experience.  

Although younger employees are more likely to be free from the biggest responsibilities at work, a larger percentage of them are "frequently" or "nearly always" concerned about their work-life balance, pressure to work long hours, and personal health.


 International

Percentage of workers "Frequently" or "Nearly Always" concerned about:


Your work-life balance

Your levels of stress at work

Your job security

Pressure to work long hours

Resources to do your job effectively

Your personal health

18 to 29 years

39

40

33

31

34

32

30 to 39 years

34

38

31

26

31

26

40 to 49 years

30

36

26

23

30

25

50 to 59 years

28

34

27

23

32

27

60 years and over

24

28

24

17

22

22





 USA

Percentage of workers "Frequently" or "Nearly Always" concerned about:


Your work-life balance

Your levels of stress at work

Your job security

Pressure to work long hours

Resources to do your job effectively

Your personal health

18 to 29 years

43

41

34

30

32

31

30 to 39 years

33

36

29

26

29

28

40 to 49 years

29

34

26

22

28

23

50 to 59 years

26

31

24

19

25

23

60 years and over

24

27

25

18

23

22

Source: GfK International Employee Engagement Survey, 2011



Engagement with employer

Looking at the opposite ends of the workforce age groups worldwide, just 21 percent of 18 to 29 year-olds are highly engaged with their employer, compared to 31 percent of those in their 60s(1). This 10-point gap between the younger 'doers' and those likely to be in the more senior positions poses real problems for businesses around the world, as it risks creating divided workplaces, inter-generational resentment and can hamper efforts to recruit, retain and motivate a flow of qualified young talent.


International

Employees who are highly engaged (%)

Employees who are engaged or highly engaged (%)

18 to 29 years

21

62

30 to 39 years

20

64

40 to 49 years

23

66

50 to 59 years

22

66

60 years and over

31

75




The same pattern appears in the US workforce, with only 24 percent of 18 to 29 year-olds highly engaged with their employer, compared to 35 percent of employees in their 60s.  


 USA

Employees who are highly engaged (%)

Employees who are engaged or highly engaged (%)

18 to 29 years

24

63

30 to 39 years

26

67

40 to 49 years

27

69

50 to 59 years

28

70

60 years and over

35

77

Source: GfK International Employee Engagement Survey, 2011




When we look internationally, some countries face a far more severe problem with the level of engagement in their young workforce.

In Macedonia (36 percent), France (32 percent) and Turkey (32 percent), close to a third of their 18 to 29 year-old workers are 'highly engaged' with their employers, indicating a fairly stable and productive situation for companies. However, at the bottom of the 'engaged' list, Hungary and the Czech Republic (6 percent each) and Serbia and Portugal (7 percent each) all face a very different proposition.  Retaining young talent could become problematic in these countries, as economies become stronger.



Country


18 to 29 year-olds 'highly engaged' with their employer (%)

Macedonia

36

France

32

Turkey

32

Mexico

27

USA

24

Austria

20

Brazil

20

Philippines

19

Canada

18

Switzerland

18

Ukraine

16

Argentina

15

Poland

15

Colombia

14

Germany

13

Israel

13

Belgium

12

Bulgaria

12

Romania

12

Sweden

12

UK

12

Russia

10

Netherlands

9

Slovakia

9

Peru

8

Portugal

7

Serbia

7

Czech Republic

6

Hungary

6

Source: GfK International Employee Engagement Survey, 2011




Internationally, 61 percent of young workers believe there are career opportunities for them, many believe these lie with another employer – or in another country. Six in 10 young workers (58 percent) are actively looking for a job, or will be in the next 6 months. Two fifths, (41 percent) are willing to emigrate to find new employment.

Fewer, but still a majority (52 percent), of young employees in the US believe that there are career opportunities available for them in the job market.  Nearly three quarters of young employees (72 percent) are actively looking for a job, or will be in the next 6 months.  Many (59 percent) would consider changing their career.  

It is crucial, therefore, for businesses to confront and resolve the causes of disengagement in their young workforce, if they are to retain talent.

Work pressures take their toll

In many countries, work pressures are taking their toll on well-being among the younger work generation. The recession has dealt a hammer blow to the aspirations of many. Internationally, more than a third of young employees have been forced to accept a job they were unhappy with (36 percent) or been driven down a different career path (37 percent) because of the economy. In the US, more than four in ten young employees feel like they have been forced to take a job that they are not happy with (42 percent), or have taken a different career path because of the economy (45 percent). Nearly half of young workers (47 percent) are forced to change life plans, such as delay having children or buying a home, because of the economy.  

Younger employees also appear to be bearing the brunt of businesses tightening their belts. Two fifths (39 percent) believe that their employer is using the recession to justify asking them to do more, compared to one in four older workers (24 percent). A third (34 percent) are also concerned with not having the resources to do their work effectively, compared to 22 percent of workers in their 60s.  (This pattern is weak in the US).

This, in turn, may be having a real impact on younger workers' well-being. Internationally, two fifths (40 percent) are frequently stressed at work – which is a higher percentage than that seen in any other age. Moreover, almost a third (31 percent) feel under pressure to work long hours.  In the US, two fifths (41 percent) are frequently concerned about the levels of stress they experience at work, a higher percentage than any other age group.  In addition, almost a third of young workers (30 percent) feel pressured by their company to work long hours, more than any other age group.  

As a result, internationally, two fifths of young workers (39 percent) are unhappy with their work-life balance – again the highest percentage of all age groups - while a third (32 percent) feel that work pressure and stress frequently impacts their health – five points more than those in their 50s, and ten points higher than those in their 60s. In the US, two fifths of young workers (43 percent) are unhappy with their work-life balance, the highest percentage of all age groups, while nearly a third (31 percent) believe that work pressure is affecting their health, again more than any other age group.  

More support for young workers

"In the US, young people who find work may feel fortunate to have a job, but they are also clearly feeling pressure." said Tom Hartley, Vice President at GfK Custom Research North America, US. "These findings support the view that we have a new, hard-working, but stressed generation of employees who place a greater value on work that they believe is meaningful to society, and on a strong desire to use their skills in their jobs. US employers are learning that it is crucial that the younger employees understand and buy into the value of the company's mission, and create opportunities where they can grow and contribute to making a difference."

Editor's note: Please source all information to GfK Custom Research.

The GfK US Employee Engagement Benchmark 2011 Survey

The GfK US Employee Engagement Benchmark 2011 Survey was conducted from February 16 to March 31, 2011, by GfK Custom Research North America. This online survey is based on interviews with 5,012 employed adults age 18 or older sampled from GfK's national online panel. The data were weighted to reflect the demographic composition (industry, gender, age) of the US workforce using targets provide by the International Labor Organization and the US Census.  This survey is part of a multi-national survey that includes 29 countries worldwide.

About the GfK International Employee Engagement Survey:

The GfK International Employee Engagement Survey was conducted by international research firm the GfK Custom Research. It includes the opinions of 30,556 working adults in 29 countries who were interviewed between February 8th and April 4th 2011 using online, telephone or in-person interviewing techniques appropriate to the country.

Data were weighted to represent the demographic composition (industry, gender and age) of each country. To produce global statistics that combine countries, the data for each country was also weighted by GDP (PPP).

The questionnaire was developed by an international team of Employee Engagement experts, with input from experts in each of the 29 countries.

Countries surveyed were: Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Macedonia, Mexico, Netherlands, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, UK, Ukraine, US.

(1) GfK's Employee Engagement definition measures employees' identification with their company's success, dedication, and willingness to stay with their employer.

About GfK Employee Engagement

GfK Employee Engagement experts offer a wide range of information and consultancy services that help organizations develop their talent more effectively. Our teams of HR consultants provide end-to-end solutions, designing, implementing and supporting people-related strategies including; employee engagement, talent management, HR and team effectiveness, internal communications, change management, training and coaching and business performance metrics.

About GfK Custom Research North America

Headquartered in New York, GfK Custom Research North America is part of the GfK Group. The GfK Group offers the fundamental knowledge that industry, retailers, services companies and the media need to make market decisions. It delivers a comprehensive range of information and consultancy services in three business sectors—Custom Research, Retail and Technology and Media. The no. 4 market research organization worldwide operates in more than 100 countries and employs over 10,000 staff. In 2010, the GfK Group had revenues of EUR 1.29 billion (approximately US$ 1.7 billion). For more information, visit www.gfkamerica.com. Follow us at www.gfkinsights4u.com or on Twitter @gfkamerica.

SOURCE GFK Custom Research North America



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