What Really Motivates Workers in Their 20’s
Ah the rebellious 20’s. The much misunderstood and underrated plight of our youths. Often thought as “Lazy” truly contemptible renegades, with far too much time on their hands, a self-entitlement attitude which makes them believe they do not have to work from the ground up and can just walk into a dream job and youths who are born of mollycoddling parents believing that the world owes them certain privileges. They are products of a culture that has to reward them for small fractions of their actions.
Yes the rebellious 20’s.
But, as a stereotype of a large portion of society, these “lies” do not stand out in the light of “hard facts” as a result of extensive research. Professor of Psychology Jeffrey Jensen Arnett of Clark University and Director of Clark Polls entertainingly unravels the mysteries of the young workers plights and explores their true motivations with an extensive study called the 2015 Clark University Poll of Emerging Adults. In this study, he distinguishes the real thoughts and attitudes of the young 20-something worker, and uncovers the true desires of these young individuals. Professor Jeffrey Arnett, beautifully coined the term “Emerging Adults” to reflect the state of preparation for adulthood for example getting married, finding work and having babies. Emerging adults tend to take much longer to grow up than they did with past generations due to the complexities and responsibilities of what young people face now are more intense than it ever was in the past. Young people today also wish to have a little freedom before establishing a more adult lifestyle. Professor Jeffrey also ascertained that young people today are often more idealistic and far harder workers than most believed.
The study conducted asked 1,000 young people their attitudes to work and education. Their ages ranged from 21 to 29 years old. It was considered that this age range would be more prevalent in inducing the best research. It was focused on this age range to give potential employers a chance to review the highlights of the research to conclude that young people have a lot to offer. Here is some of the information that was received.
Not lazy, but often not fully committed to work
89% of the people asked said they were hard workers. “No matter what I am doing, I try to do it as well as possible” However, contrary to that result 40% of young workers said that “On a normal work day I try to get by with doing as little work as possible”. This bland response was the combination of reasons such as a transition from jobs, or they were still contemplating what career to pursue and in any case 46% of participants said “My job with my current employer is temporary”.
Willing to work their way up, but not to be exploited
The average 20-something worker recognized they would have to work their way up from ground level so 78% agreed that “If I were in a boring job, I would be patient and try to move up within the company.” On a side note they also agreed that good faith should be on the onus of the employer as well as the employee. Interestingly, 54% agreed that “If employers do not pay me well, they do not deserve my best work effort.”
Many are distracted by social media while on the job
Today’s 20-something emerging adults have grown up with social media as second nature. Unlike their employers who have reluctantly welcomed the “digital age”. The significant differences of the generation gap can be clearly seen here with these “new issues”. This is evident in the study when 54% agreed that “I do not see anything wrong with checking my Facebook page, tweeting, or texting with friends now and then in the course of a normal work day.” It is these differences that can be quite difficult with the generation gap between emerging adults and employers.
As well as these findings in this recent study, other research suggests that emerging adults are not the narcissist of stories told but are incredibly idealistic and extremely generous in their attitude to work. In the 2012 Clark University Poll of Emerging Adults which became a national survey, also mentioned that 79% of 18 to 29 year old workers “It is more important to enjoy my job than to make a lot of money,” and 86% agreed that “It is important to me to have a career that does some good in the world.” It is with these notions that these expectations are unrealistic. To put it into perspective in the 2015 poll, 76% stated that “I am still looking for my ideal job.” Also, 71% admitted that “I have not made as much progress in my career as I would have hoped by now.” This means there is a lot of unrest in the 20-something emerging adult’s frame of mind. 66% agreed that “My current job is not in the field I hope to be in 10 years from now.”
Having researched all of this you may be thinking what older colleagues may get from this. These young workers if given the chance will undoubtedly surprise you. They may not work hard as you and they may be distracted by social media, but they want to make a difference, to contribute to the workplace in a positive and uplifting manner. Give them a chance and let them show you who they are, what they can do and what they think. They are far more capable than they are truly given credit for. And if you provide the platform for them to build upon their skills, and invite them to focus on a certain direction, they will completely apply all their energy on that project. We are responsible for nurturing their professionalism and providing encouragement to explore new avenues. The young 20-something worker is a valuable member of the team.