21st August 2018
Interestingly enough, I discovered this week from an article on Business Advice that contrary to popular belief, new research found that the age group most interested in development opportunities at work isn’t Millennials: it was those employees from Generation X (those in their late 30s through to their mid-50s).
Through a poll run by Love Energy Savings taken by 2,000 people, the survey found people aged between 45 and 54 were more likely than any other group to want more development opportunities at work.
Previous research had suggested that workers in Generation X were less interested in development opportunities at work than Millennials were, but this trend may be changing, as Generation X employees are reaching the peak of their careers.
Further research from Love Energy Savings found that Gen X-ers may also be more interested in spending time with their teams outside of work than might previously have been expected. When asked about what perks they would want from a job, employees ranging from 45 to 54 were almost twice as likely to want regular nights out with colleagues (18%) than those aged 35-44s (10%). They were also more likely to see extra holidays as the most important perk of the job, with 27% of the vote.
It may be that a lack of development opportunities at work is making Gen X-ers look beyond the workplace for fulfilment. Statistics compiled by Forth have shown that the leading cause of stress in 45-54s is work, rather than money, which was the primary cause of stress in 18-24s.
What does this mean for employers?
In light of this new research, employers may need to readjust how they think about senior staff development.
Businesses that rely on regular pay reviews to retain employees in their 40s and 50s might lose out to those that prioritise life-long learning and development plans. Generation X want opportunities just as challenging and satisfying as they are for those that have yet to climb the career ladder. Research conducted by BlessingWhite showed that employees are more likely to stay loyal to a company if given opportunities to develop their skills, regardless of age.
Phil Foster, founder and managing director of Love Energy Savings, highlighted the reasons why it’s important to listen to your older employees. He said:
“Many businesses might focus a great deal on attracting and retaining younger employees with plenty of perks and developments opportunities, and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, our research suggests that older workers are just as hungry for opportunities to enhance their skill set and try something new. They shouldn’t be neglected or ignored.”
“Businesses that want to continue to grow should ensure everyone has a clear development plan and a ‘lattice’-shaped — rather than ladder-shaped — progression structure; making it just as easy to move sideways into different roles as it is to move upwards in current roles.
“That way,” he said, “talented staff won’t feel they have to look elsewhere to develop, no matter what life stage they’re at.”