• unlimited access with print and download
    $ 37 00
  • read full document, no print or download, expires after 72 hours
    $ 4 99
More info
Unlimited access including download and printing, plus availability for reading and annotating in your in your Udini library.
  • Access to this article in your Udini library for 72 hours from purchase.
  • The article will not be available for download or print.
  • Upgrade to the full version of this document at a reduced price.
  • Your trial access payment is credited when purchasing the full version.
Buy
Continue searching

An investigation of generational differences in job satisfaction in a bureaucratic environment

Dissertation
Author: Deidre Elaine Eaton
Abstract:
Today's workplace is comprised of multigenerational employees (Traditionals, Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials). Each generation has different ideas, beliefs, and values systems. Consequently, they respond and react differently to common life events. Moreover, they have differences in how they view various aspects of work. These generational differences can be a creative strength, an opportunity, or create stress and/or conflict in the workplace. In the workplace, managers need to understand the attitudinal differences and how these generational differences may result in different levels of job satisfaction within each generation. This research collected job satisfaction data from 430 federal government employees to examine nine facets of job satisfaction and overall satisfaction in a bureaucratic organization. Accordingly, the study contributed to the emerging research on generational differences in the workplace. The results of this study indicate that generational differences in job satisfaction may not be as dramatic as previously expected. Although the study hypotheses were not supported, the ANOVA with Bonferroni post hoc contrast found generational differences in satisfaction with promotion and operating procedures. Millennials and Generation X employees within this research had higher satisfaction with promotions than Baby Boomers and Traditionals. Additionally, Millennials had higher satisfaction with operating procedures than Traditionals, Baby Boomers, and Generation X. These results indicate that the research on generational differences is warranted. By understanding generational differences, organizations may be able to improve their employees' job satisfaction and thereby generate teamwork, collaboration, and synergy among their employees.

TABLE OF CONTENTS ACKNOWLEDGEMENT ii ABSTRACT v LIST OF TABLES vii I. LITERATURE REVIEW AND HYPOTHESIS 1 The Four Generations 3 Defining the Traditionals 5 Baby Boomers 7 Generation X 10 Millennial 12 Characteristics of a Bureaucracy 16 Bureaucracy in the U.S. Federal Government 19 Job Satisfaction 23 Generational Differences in Nine Facets of Job Satisfaction and Overall Satisfaction 25 II. METHODS 57 Data Analysis 61 III. RESULTS 63 IV. DISCUSSION 74 Limitations of the Study 78 Directions for Future Research 79 Practical Implications 82 Conclusions 84 viii

TABLE OF CONTENTS (CON'T) REFERENCES 86 APPENDIX I: Survey of Employees Attitudes 96 APPENDIX II: Salary Table 98 VITA 99 IX

LITERATURE REVIEW AND HYPOTHESIS America's corporations are faced with a mixture of employees that are composed of four generations (Traditional, Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennial) that have different ideas of how they view various aspects of the workplace (Lancaster & Stillman, 2002; Ruch, 2005). Moreover, the generations have different value systems (Kupperschmidt, 2000; Zemke, Raines, & Filiczak, 1999), react and respond differently to common life events (Hicks & Hicks, 1999; Kupperschmidt, 2000; Zemke et al., 1999), and bring their own life experiences to the workplace (Hicks & Hicks, 1999; Lancaster & Stillman, 2002; Zemke et al., 1999). These differences can result in constructive events for the organization such as creative strengths and opportunities (Lancaster & Stillman, 2002). On the other hand, the differences can develop into unpleasant incidents such as stress, conflict in the workplace (Hankin, 2004; Lancaster & Stillman, 2002; Siebert, 2008), friction, mistrust, miscommunication, and consequently impact job satisfaction, retention, and productivity (Ruch, 2005). Understanding generational differences in job satisfaction will assist organizations in coping with the changing demographics of the U.S. workforce. In the United States, the overall rate of workforce growth is decreasing and creating a severe shortage of talented workers (Dychtwald, Erickson, & Morison, 2004). McKinsey and Company estimates that over the next thirty years, the demand for bright, talented thirty-five to forty-five year bids will increase by 25 percent, while the supply is predicted to decrease by 15 percent (Lancaster & Stillman, 2002). Moreover, retaining employees is important too. A Business Week study estimated that the replacement cost for approximately 50 percent of all jobs is $10,000, and for 20 percent of all jobs the cost is over $30,000 1

(Mitchell, Holtom, & Lee, 2001). Researchers, Dychtwald et al. (2004) and Butler & Waldroop (1999) believe that companies need to design jobs so that staying on the job is more attractive than leaving. With the forecasted shortage of labor, corporations should be concerned about generational differences and how the differences may impact their human resource management in the areas of recruitment, attraction, and retention. The purpose of this study is to examine differences in job satisfaction between four generations within a bureaucratic organization. Job satisfaction is frequently studied in organizational behavior. Researchers have studied job satisfaction in relation to gender (Al-Ajmi, 2006; Bender & Heywood, 2006; Chusmir & Parker, 2001; Witt & Nye, 1992), race (Bartel, 1981; Konar, 1981; Thomas, 1995), and age (Hulin & Smith, 1965; Kalleberg & Loscocco, 1983; Riordan, Griffith, & Weatherly, 2003). However, there is little empirical research on cohorts and the impact of their differences and similarities. In this study, I examine the relationship between four generational cohorts and nine facets of job satisfaction as defined by Spector (1997) and how the generations may have different perceptions of the facets in a bureaucratic culture. Bureaucracies have a culture of hierarchical formal structure and are rules oriented. Consequently, the bureaucratic culture may or may not be a preferable working environment for members of various generations. Acknowledging and understanding the differences in job satisfaction will potentially lead to interventions that could improve job satisfaction, performance, organizational commitment of members of different generations, and reduce the cost of replacing people. This study investigates generational differences in job satisfaction in a bureaucratic organization. 2

First, I review the literature on the generations in the workforce. Next, I describe bureaucratic organizations in general, and specifically, the bureaucratic culture of the federal government. Finally, I describe job satisfaction and how the different generations may have different perceptions of job satisfaction. The Four Generations This study uses Lancaster and Stillman's (2002) definition of the four generations in the workplace - Traditionals, Baby Boomers, Generation X, and the Millennials. The Traditionals were born between the turn of the 20th century, 1900, and the end of World War II in 1945 (Lancaster & Stillman, 2002). The Baby Boomers, the largest generation ever born in the United States, were born between 1946 and 1964 (Lancaster & Stillman, 2002). Generation X, a smaller generation, was born between 1965 and 1980 (Lancaster & Stillman, 2002). Finally, the Millennials, born between 1981 through 1999, are the newest generation entering the workplace (Lancaster & Stillman, 2002). Even though years are given as boundaries to the generations, there is no "magic birth date" that makes a person part of a particular generation (Lancaster & Stillman, 2002). The four generations are known as age cohorts. In 1994, Rosow defined an age cohort as a group of people who share a given historical or socially structured or historical life experience (as cited in Jurkiewicz, 2000; Williams, Coupland, Folwell, & Starks, 2007). Martin and Tulgan (2001) noted that a generation is an identifiable age group with shared historical experiences. Howe and Strauss (2000) define a generation as having three common attributes: beliefs, behavior, and location in history. Rosow and Hicks and Hicks (1999) noted that the effects of age cohorts are relatively stable over the course of time and serve to distinguish one generation from another. The shaping of the 3

generations through history and its experience permanently affect the generation and consequently affects the workforce (Hicks & Hicks, 1999; Strauss & Howe, 1991; Spiro, 2006). Each generation has different beliefs, behavior, and references to life and historical events. Hicks and Hicks (1999) define generational differences as differences that are part of peoples' beliefs, emotions, and preferences. Generational differences are common in our personal life as parents try to understand their children. However, in the business world, generational differences can cause tension, misunderstandings, and conflicts as employees attempt to accomplish organizational goals (Hicks & Hicks, 1999). Eric Chester, President of Generation Why, believes that job security, equity, and camaraderie are important to all ages, but that there may be different levels of importance to the generations (Marquez, 2005). In the workplace, some potential conflict that may develop from differences may be the Traditionalist's belief in commitment to work, Baby Boomer's belief of personal fulfillment, Generation X's belief of tentative and divided loyalty, and the Millennials' belief of networking (Howe & Strauss, 2000). Many employees build their lives around their jobs, but research suggests younger employees would rather have flexibility in their hours rather than a promotion (Marquez, 2005). Generational differences are challenges to companies as they attempt to develop policies and procedures, create corporate cultures, develop benefit packages, recruit, manage, motivate, and retain the generations in the workplace (Lancaster & Stillman, 2002). Moreover, generational differences may increase employee health problems due to stress, increase employee turnover, derail careers, and increase payroll cost (Lancaster & Stillman, 2002). Eric Chester says that managers need to review their human resource 4

policies and make sure the policies accommodate the different generational mind-sets (Marquez, 2005). Job satisfaction is a common measurement of employee attitudes in organizational psychology (Rokeach, 1979). Cohorts could have different degrees of job satisfaction within different organizational culture. The research presented here will focus on generational differences in job satisfaction in a bureaucratic organization and specifically the U.S. government. An important question is whether each cohort is satisfied with their jobs when compared to each other and test the hypotheses on job satisfaction within each cohort. The next sections will describe the mind-sets of each generation and their preferred work style. Defining the Traditionals The oldest members of today's workforce are known as the Traditionals. Famous members of the Traditionals generation are Walt Disney, Bob Hope, Katherine Hepburn, Walter Cronkite, Billy Graham, Lee Iacocca, Neil Armstrong, and George H. W. Bush. The events that define this generation are the Great Depression, World War II, the New Deal, the Korean War, and the invention of radio and television. The Traditionals brought the country out of an economic depression, built a space program, and landed a man on the moon (Zemke et al., 1999). They developed the vaccines that wiped out many of the most prevalent diseases during that time - polio, tetanus, tuberculosis, and whooping cough (Hicks & Hicks, 1999; Zemke et al., 1999). Additionally, they built the bridges, dams, and interstate highway systems that we enjoy today (Hicks & Hicks, 1999). The Traditionals define their heroes to be Superman, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Babe Ruth, and Joe DiMaggio. They also 5

have an abundance of World War II heroes such as MacArthur, Patton, Montgomery, Halsey, and Eisenhower. In the past ten years, Americans have postulated the return of "family values." Family values are defined as the values that families ought to hold and what families consider as values (Hartman, 1992). Hartman (1992) defines family values as the values we were raised with, values we express in our lives, and values that we pass on to our children. They include mutual caring and responsibility, loyalty and fidelity, and respect for individuality, independence, and privacy (Hartman, 1992). When American politicians state that Americans must return to family values, they are referring to the values of the Traditionals' generation. Traditionals tend not to be as accepting of diversity (Hicks & Hicks, 1999). When the Traditionals were children, race and cultural awareness were not common. Most grew up with two races and cultures in the U.S., Caucasian and African American. To them, that was diversity. Official laws of segregation were strong, well-known, understood, and accepted and were a way of dividing the Caucasian and African American population. Some Traditionals took part in the civil rights movement of the 60s; however, they still were not personally in touch and affected by the passage of affirmative action and changes in the U.S. policies toward racial segregation (Howe & Strauss, 2000; 2007). The Traditionals are characterized as committed to the command/control leadership of hierarchical organizations (Martin & Tulgan, 2002). They have a strong work ethic, are reliable, and great helpers and supporters (Martin & Tulgan, 2002). Their generation consisted of discipline, self-sacrifice, teamwork, and pitching in for the 6

common good (Hicks & Hicks, 1999). The generation also provided the model and the mutual understanding of how Americans should live their lives (Hicks & Hicks, 1999). Martin and Tulgan (2002) also classified them as brilliant advisors, mediators, and aides and as having human relationship skills and the ability to negotiate. Their thoughts were to fit in with the crowd and accomplish things together instead of valuing uniqueness and differences (Hicks & Hicks, 1999). In today's corporations, Traditionals are known for their loyalty and commitment. They wonder about the absence of their ethics, of "an honest day's work for an honest day's pay" (Martin & Tulgan, 2002). They do not understand the workers who are not willing to make sacrifices for their organization; individuals who do not believe in paying their dues in the organization and working themselves up the corporate ladder; and individuals that move from one job to another (Martin & Tulgan, 2002). The Traditionals are inclined to believe that standardized policies, procedures, templates, and guiding principles are the way to conduct work (Martin & Tulgan, 2002). People consider the generation as having the inability or interest to learn new skills (Lancaster & Stillman, 2002; Zemke et al., 1999). Traditionals do like to learn new skills; however, they would like those skills to improve their performance on their current job rather than enabling them to be more marketable on another job. Baby Boomers Approximately nine months after the Victory over Japan in 1946, the Baby Boomer era began. One Baby Boomer was born every seventeen minutes for the next 19 years (Hicks & Hicks, 1999; Zemke et al., 1999). They are the largest generation in the 7

workforce. Some well-known Baby Boomers are Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Tom Cruise, Steven Spielberg, and Bill Gates. The Baby Boomers were the first U.S. generation where the parents were focused on the upbringing of the child instead of considering children as an economic necessity to support the rural, agrarian lifestyle. One reason for the shift in views was the introduction of the philosophy of Dr. Benjamin Spock. Dr. Spock encouraged parents to view children as people with needs that should be met (Hicks & Hicks, 1999). Consequently, Baby Boomers are considered the most self-indulgent generation in U.S. history, who believe they are the stars of the show with a working dad and stay at home mom. They grew up focused on themselves and their own needs versus the needs of the country (Hicks & Hicks, 1999). The Baby Boomers' belief in personal gratification has led to quick divorces; movement from job to job; and the notion that an apology is enough to make amends for doing wrong (Zemke et al., 1999). Another influence to the Baby Boomer views was the introduction of television. The Baby Boomer generation was the first raised with this new influence. Advertisements and news coverage began to shape the values of America (Hicks & Hicks, 1999). The shows flirted with the taboos of society and mistrust of the government through the Watergate investigation and broadcast of citizens being attacked while claiming their civil rights (Hicks & Hicks, 1999). Additionally, television taught the Baby Boomers and sequential generations that no matter what major problem occurred, large or small, it was always solved by the time the program was over (Hicks & Hicks, 1999). In other words, in 30 or 60 minutes, some of the most difficult problems in life could be tackled (Hicks & Hicks, 1999). Those raised on TV are less likely to 8

patiently endure or accept life's challenges or consider long-term solutions. They want answers, solutions, change - and they want it now (Hicks & Hicks, 1999). In 1967, Time magazine named the Baby Boomers "Man of the Year" (Zemke et al., 1999). The generation was characterized as the hippie generation that dodged the draft, protested against the Vietnam War, attended Woodstock in 1969, and enjoyed economic riches (Williams et al., 1997). The generation was cited as the generation that would clean-up cities and end racial inequalities (Zemke et al., 1999). While those were goals of the Baby Boomers, the generation lived in an era of social inequalities with unreported domestic violence, disregard of mental health issues, depression, acceptance of racist and sexist jokes, mistreatment or rejection of the handicapped, and intolerance of homosexuality (Zemke et al., 1999). Baby Boomers believe that rules were not made for them, but made to be broken. They questioned anything connected with the establishment. Consequently, the Baby Boomers were known for radical rule breaking which included lying to the government to avoid the draft, insider trading, banking problems, and corruption in industry (Hicks & Hicks, 1999). They believed that they did not do anything wrong - that they were just doing what was best for them (Hicks & Hicks, 1999). Baby Boomers disregarded their parents' belief of "getting a good job and settling down." They are characterized as directing their energy into their work and being willing to sacrifice for a career (Hicks & Hicks, 1999). They believe in paying their dues in an organization and that value is tied to the number of hours worked (Hicks & Hicks, 1999). They value promotions, large offices, positions of status, and reserved parking spaces 9

(Kupperschmidt, 2000). However, they also desire a sense of meaning, and a chance to learn new things ("How to," 1999). Generation X Generation X is sandwiched between two large generations, Baby Boomers and the Millennials. Recognizable Generation Xers include Sandra Bullock, Julia Roberts, and Tiger Woods. Several influential factors affected the mindset of Generation X and helped establish the Generation X culture. Generation X, also known as the "latchkey kids" (Paul, 2002), felt the dissolution of the traditional nuclear family and 40 percent of Generation X grew up in divorced and single parent households (Fredenburg, 2004; Howe & Strauss, 2007; Macalister, 1994; Strauss & Howe, 1991;). Generation X experienced the pervasive influence of television (Fredenburg, 2004; Macalister, 1994; O'Donovan, 1998). Along with the Baby Boomers, television educated and taught Generation X. Television channels such as CNN removed the buffers that formally existed between individuals and world events. Consequently, Generation X watched the Gulf War up-front and live (Macalister, 1994). Even though Generation X has seen the negative factors of American, the cohort consists of individuals who have changed the American work environment and altered the way of thinking and doing things (Fredenburg, 2004). Generation X is a cohort that lost the influence of heroes (Tulgan, 2000) and instead experienced events such as Richard Nixon and Watergate; the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan; the failed hostage rescue in Iran; the Jim Jones cult's mass suicide; the economic materialistic aspects of two income families; the consumption 10

frenzy in the 1980s; and the economic shaft of the 1990s (Howe & Strauss, 2007; Macalister, 1994; Strauss & Howe, 1991). Early publications viewed Generation X negatively. Negative labels included slackers, lazy, unmotivated, whiners, irresponsible, and unintelligent (Fredenburg, 2004; Strauss & Howe, 1991). Fredenburg gives several arguments addressing the negative stereotypes of Generation X. The statement that Generation X is lazy, lacks motivation, and has no idea of hard work is due to their lack of vision (Fredenburg, 2004). Generation X's lack of loyalty in the workplace can be attributed to their lack of belief in the company or project (Fredenburg, 2004) and they are not willing to sacrifice family and freedom for success (Lancaster & Stillman, 2002). In the past, previous generations just wanted jobs that paid a lot of money; Generation X looked for more than a job, but a sense of purpose and fulfillment in life (Fredenburg, 2004). Generation X is not a group of whiners and complainers, but a generation of individuals who request clarification when they do not understand a particular problem or situation (Fredenburg, 2004). In 1995, Tulgan conducted a survey and characterized Generation X as a group that desires a sense of belonging/teamwork, the ability to learn new things, autonomy, entrepreneurship, flexibility, feedback, and short-term rewards. Tulgan also noted that Generation X is skeptical of the status quo and hierarchical relationships and requires managers to earn respect rather than gain respect by virtue of a title. Generation X is one of the smaller cohorts that followed the massive Baby Boomers generation. Consequently, they feel that they are receiving the leftovers from the Baby Boomers. They have more education than the Baby Boomers, but the increase in education does not necessarily mean they receive good jobs (Paul, 2002) and less than 11

30 percent of Generation X believe they will benefit from the money they contribute toward Social Security (Macalister, 1994). Generation X is influenced by the prevalence of minorities and is a racially diverse group (Macalister, 1994). The percentage of minorities that make up Generation X is slightly higher than the general population, which explains the language, music, and dress adopted by the generation (Macalister, 1994). Generation X desires concrete and specific information on job responsibilities (Macalister, 1994; Tulgan, 1995) and a work environment that is stable and clearly structured (Tulgan, 1995; Wah, 2000). Moreover, they want stable, established and safe environments with which they can learn and develop new skills, develop leadership abilities and express their creativity (Wah, 2000). Generation X employees desire equitable reward systems based on merit and value added, not tenure or "paying dues" (Tulgan, 2000); desire latitude and control over their work and work environment (Tulgan, 2000); autonomy and trust (Tulgan, 2000); partnership in the organization's quest to succeed (Tulgan, 2000); and balance and fulfillment in their career and family life (Kupperschmidt, 2000; Zemke et al, 1999). Millennials The youngest members of American businesses, Millennials, are the children of the Baby Boomers and the younger siblings of Generation X. They were born between 1981 and 1999 and have been called names such as Millenniums, Generation www, the Digital Generation, Generation E, Echo Boomers, N-Gens, and most popularly Millennials (Martin &Tulgan, 2001). Some well-known Millennials are Chelsea Clinton, LeAnn Rimes, and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. Somewhat like Generation X, the 12

media stereotyped Millennials as lazy, self-centered, and at risk for drugs, sex, and violence (Martin & Tulgan, 2001). However, they are characterized as idealistic, empowered, ambitious, committed, and passionate (Huntley, 2006). Millennials outnumber Generation X, Baby Boomers, and every other earlier generation in the general population in America (Howe & Strauss, 2000). They are the largest, healthiest, and most cared for generation in American history (Howe & Strauss, 2000). Millennials feel special and wanted (Huntley, 2006); are mostly planned children born to older parents; and grew up in a small family as the only child or with only one sibling (Howe & Strauss, 2000). Additionally, the parents of Millennials are the best educated cohort and include fewer divorced parents and never-married moms (Howe & Strauss, 2000). Earlier generations saw violence from afar with World War I, World War II, the Cold War, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Millennials have seen violence up front and on American soil with the L.A. riots after the Rodney King verdict; Oklahoma City and Atlanta Summer Olympic bombings; school shootings at Paducah, Littleton, Springfield, and Conyers (Martin & Tulgan, 2001), and the attack on the World Trade Center (Huntley, 2006). Furthermore, they are constantly fed violence and sexuality through video games, TV, and movies (Martin & Tulgan, 2001). Martin and Tulgan (2001) describe Millennials as self-confident, optimistic, independent, goal-oriented, computer savvy, education minded, and models of integrity. Furthermore, unlike the Baby Boomers and Generation X, the Millennials view their parents as role models (Martin & Tulgan, 2001). Due to parental influence, they are accustomed to having structured lives and emphasize achievement (Rombel, 2006). 13

Millennials came of age during a time of economic expansion and prosperity (Huntley, 2006; Martin &Tulgan, 2001). Consequently, they are more optimistic about life, work, and the future than Generation X (Martin & Tulgan, 2001). Millennials have high self-esteem due to childhood psychological theories and parenting advice practiced by their parents (Martin & Tulgan, 2001). Additionally, unlike Generation X's parents, Millennials' parents tended to balance home and family (Martin & Tulgan, 2001). This is evidenced by a 2001 Newsweek poll which stated that 61% of teenagers say their parents spend enough time with them versus 15% who say their parents spend too much time with them (Begley et al., 2000). Millennials' high self-esteem is contributed to their familiarity and acceptance of technology (Martin & Tulgan, 2001). They are in a collaborative relationship with technology rather than thinking of technology as a threat (Huntley, 2006). Technology is their ally. "Techno-savvy" Millennials are now usurping 'intellectual authority' in their homes and classrooms, leaving parents and teachers both confused and awed (Martin & Tulgan, 2001). They can access worlds of information and master increasingly complex systems much faster than their elders can. They are consultants to parents who do not know how to use technology, and collaborators with teachers, infusing technology into the curriculum. Millennials also are creators of many of their own website designs, home pages, and internet resource guides (Martin & Tulgan, 2001). Millennials are the most educated-minded generation in history due to the influence of their parents who valued education and the demands placed on education by the workplace (Martin & Tulgan, 2001). The statistics show that Millennials believe in advanced learning and that education is a fact of life. Ninety-nine percent of high school 14

Full document contains 112 pages
Abstract: Today's workplace is comprised of multigenerational employees (Traditionals, Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials). Each generation has different ideas, beliefs, and values systems. Consequently, they respond and react differently to common life events. Moreover, they have differences in how they view various aspects of work. These generational differences can be a creative strength, an opportunity, or create stress and/or conflict in the workplace. In the workplace, managers need to understand the attitudinal differences and how these generational differences may result in different levels of job satisfaction within each generation. This research collected job satisfaction data from 430 federal government employees to examine nine facets of job satisfaction and overall satisfaction in a bureaucratic organization. Accordingly, the study contributed to the emerging research on generational differences in the workplace. The results of this study indicate that generational differences in job satisfaction may not be as dramatic as previously expected. Although the study hypotheses were not supported, the ANOVA with Bonferroni post hoc contrast found generational differences in satisfaction with promotion and operating procedures. Millennials and Generation X employees within this research had higher satisfaction with promotions than Baby Boomers and Traditionals. Additionally, Millennials had higher satisfaction with operating procedures than Traditionals, Baby Boomers, and Generation X. These results indicate that the research on generational differences is warranted. By understanding generational differences, organizations may be able to improve their employees' job satisfaction and thereby generate teamwork, collaboration, and synergy among their employees.