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Sloan Center News

Why are Young Workers Less Engaged Today? 

“generation gap” may be a resource as companies struggle to survive

8 July 2009—As if balancing nearly four generations in the workplace simultaneously wasn't already difficult, now experts say the recession could further widen the generation gap.

A new study, conducted by Boston College's Sloan Center on Aging & Work, evaluated the effects of the recession on employee engagement. What researchers found: Members of Generation Y—workers ages 26 and younger—reported the greatest decrease in engagement, while engagement remained virtually unchanged for baby boomers and older (workers older than 43).

Why the gap? "Perceptions about job security, supervisor support and job quality," according to the report "The Difference a Downturn Can Make," part of the center's far-reaching age and generations study.

Older employees appear less affected by the recession. "Some older workers have seen it all, and that gives them experiential resilience," says Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes, director of the Sloan Center. "Younger workers just don't have the depth of experience, which leaves them feeling less engaged in their jobs.  But younger workers bring energy, enthusiasm and idealism. In a workplace where older and younger employees work side by side, the give and take between young and old is a valuable resource employers should leverage to survive the downturn."

Read the entire article here »

By Daryl C. Hannah, Diversity.Inc.

The Age & Generations Study was funded in part by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Download a copy of The Difference a Downturn Can Make here »