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This spring, a new graduating class is entering the workforce and adding its own unique perspective to the working world. As a leader who likely manages employees of different ages and backgrounds, it is important for you to pay attention to generational differences in the workplace to minimize conflict and maximize teamwork.

Adecco USA, a workforce solutions company, recently released its 2012 Graduation Survey, which offers an interesting look at the recent college graduates who are joining the professional world. Adecco surveyed 507 graduates from four-year degree programs who are between the ages of 22 and 26 years old. Of these graduates, 36 percent are working in the field in which they studied. This group of graduates has been dubbed “Generation I” because of these characteristics:

  • They “have a secure understanding of who they are and what they want – and they aren’t willing to compromise.”
  • “It seems to be ‘all about them’
  • They are “keen to jump around” when it comes to jobs and location, and they desire frequent change

What Generation I is Looking for in a Job

1. Frequent Change

Staying in one job for an extended period of time does not seem to be a priority for the majority of recent grads. Over the next 10 years, only 3 percent said they’d expect to stay at a job for more than five years; 33 percent said they expected to stay for three years or fewer.

The vast majority of recent graduates surveyed are open to relocating — 94 percent said they would be willing to move to a new city for some reason. The top reasons were:

  • A job offer with higher pay (73 percent)
  • A job offer from their dream company (59 percent)
  • A job offer in their dream city (51 percent)

Another reason Generation I is likely to move on quickly is that they value their work aligning with their interests (a factor that is noteworthy for managers juggling generational differences in the workplace). Nine in 10 (91 percent) said they would only continue working at a job they didn’t like for up to a year. Twenty-one percent said they would stay for three months before leaving. Almost one-fifth (18 percent) said they would leave their current job if they were assigned work that didn’t match with their interests.

2. Salary & Benefits

When given a list of 15 job search factors, such as good company culture, benefits and prestige in the industry, more than half of the recent graduates surveyed said they expected to receive a majority of them when hired. The top expectations were:

  • Good health benefits (74 percent)
  • Job security (73 percent)
  • Opportunities for growth and development (68 percent)

Salary also carried a lot of weight with Generation I; 67 percent said they would leave their current job if their salary was reduced.

3. Competitive Value

The majority of Generation I (70 percent) reported feeling pressure to keep up with their peers in the work world.

  • 41 percent said they feel pressure when their peers make more money than they do
  • 38 percent said they feel pressure when their peers are at a higher level in their career

Social media plays a role in this peer pressure: 20 percent of grads said they feel pressure when they see peers’ career-related status messages on social media sites. This is highest in the Northeast (51 percent), compared with 39 percent in the South, 38 percent in the West and 37 percent in the Midwest.

Are you surprised by any of these findings? What do you think are the biggest generational differences in the workplace?

What Does "Generation I" Want for Career Development?

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