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Boomer Work Ethic May Be No Stronger than GenX or Millennials

Boomer Work Ethic May Be No Stronger than GenX or Millennials

Researchers have determined that contrary to current opinion, the baby boomer generation does not have a greater work ethic than people born a decade or two later.

A team of researchers from Wayne State University in Michigan completed a comprehensive analysis of 77 relevant studies to arrive at the new conclusion.

The economic success of the United States and Europe around the turn of the 20th to the 21st century is often ascribed to the so-called Protestant work ethic of members of the baby boomer generation born between 1946 and 1964.

They are said to place work central in their lives, to avoid wasting time, and to be ethical in their dealings with others. Their work ethic is also associated with greater job satisfaction and performance, conscientiousness, greater commitment to the organization they belong to, and little time for social loafing.

These aspects are often contrasted with the skills said to be needed to thrive in the modern 21st century workplace, such as collaboration, problem solving, and the ability to embrace technology and to perform nonroutine and interactive tasks.

The media and academia often suggest that baby boomers endorse higher levels of work ethic than the younger so-called Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980) and Millennials (born between 1981 and 1999). The jury however is still out on whether or not such a generational difference actually exists.

In the new research, published in Springer’s Journal of Business and Psychology, Keith Zabel and his team compiled a dataset of all published studies that have ever used a US sample to measure and report on the Protestant work ethic.

Studies included in the meta-analysis had to mention the average age of the people surveyed. In all, 77 studies and 105 different measures of work ethic were examined using an analysis method stretching over three phases. In the process, each phase offered more precise measurement of generational cohorts.

Researchers found no differences in the work ethic of different generations. These findings support other studies that found no difference in the work ethics of different generations when considering different variables, such as the hours they work or their commitment to family and work. Zabel’s team did however note a higher work ethic in studies that contained the response of employees working in industry rather than of students.

“The finding that generational differences in the Protestant work ethic do not exist suggests that organizational initiatives aimed at changing talent management strategies and targeting them for the ‘very different’ millennial generation may be unwarranted and not a value added activity,” says Zabel.

“Human resource-related organizational interventions aimed at building 21st century skills should therefore not be concerned with generational differences in Protestant work ethic as part of the intervention.”

Source: Springer

Boomer Work Ethic May Be No Stronger than GenX or Millennials

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2016). Boomer Work Ethic May Be No Stronger than GenX or Millennials. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 19, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2016/10/13/boomer-work-ethic-may-be-no-stronger-than-genx-or-millennials/111077.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 13 Oct 2016
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 13 Oct 2016
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.