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Generational Differences in Work Values

In: Business and Management

Submitted By tanmayepal
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The article attempts to explore the work values in the hospitality context and analyze them further through the lens of generational differences on a multi dimensional level. What makes this research unique is the scope, which covers all 3 aspects: multiple dimensions of work values, importance of these work values to people across 3 generations and a focus on Hospitality industry.
The author’s approach is to find and shortlist research done on identification of work values, dimensions or factors under which they exist and the importance given to them based on the age of individuals (generation aspect). Post selection of a suitable research covering these criteria, the author attempts to apply these on a sample size from the Hospitality Industry to understand and report the relevance and findings.
The sole reason of attempting this study is to analytically approach the challenges faced by human resources in managing a work force that is diverse and consists of different social & demographic profiles. The author believes that understanding of this would lead to better recruitment and retention strategies of managerial workforce in the hospitality industry.
Short listing of available research:
a) Research on Work Values: Many studies have been conducted on identifying work values in an institution, (Elizur, 1984; Hofstede, 1980; Mok et al., 1998; Pryor, 1987; Rokeach, 1973; Sagie et al., 1996; Super, 1970, 1973; White, 2005; Zytowski, 1970, 1994). Of these, the author chose Super’s (1970) WVI – Work Value Inventory. This method was chosen as it was reliable and has been used to study work values in hospitality industry earlier. (Chen et al., 2000; White, 2005). WVI is a work value measurement scale which lists the following 15 work values: altruism, esthetics, creativity, intellectual stimulation, independence, achievement, prestige, management, economic returns, security, surroundings, supervisory relations, associates, variety, and way of life. Each value was attributed a different importance by individuals surveyed. b) Research on Generational aspects: The author has approached generational variations to work values as per the classification of Smola and Sutton’s (2002).viz. ‘Baby boomers’ or those born between 1946 and 1964, ‘Generation Xers’ or those born between 1965 and 1977 and ‘Millennial’ or ‘Gen Y’ which represents those born after 1977.

c) Research on Multi dimensions: The author considered research methods adopted by Mok et al. (1998) Wong and Chung’s (2003) which identity underlying factors of dimensions to each work value. However, there is no reference in the article to why he did not choose one of them. The author arrived at the dimensions through factor analysis ‘Varimax Rotation’, and other statistical methods, post survey. One reason could be that both methods were done on Chinese applicants and the author used a sample base from US. And since dimensions are culturally influenced, he decided to keep these methods as reference only.
Methodology:
The assessment was made by administering a survey questionnaire which consisted of 45 statements covering 3 sections, viz. Organization behavior, socio demographic profile and work values. These 45 statements covered 15 work values. The questionnaire was sent to a sample size of 500 managers and supervisors in US, of which 398 responded. A response rate of 79 percent was enough to qualify as a valid sample base.
Observations post survey:
• Demographic Profile: The demographics covered a healthy cross section of samples across the following 4 parameters: o Gender: 49.4 percent were Males and 50.6 percent females. o Age & Generation Mix: Average age was 37.7, ranging from 20 to 59. Baby boomers (27%); Gen X (41%); Gen Y (32%) o Years in Industry and Position: Average experience was 9.3yrs and Position mix was Executives (14%); Managers (31%); Owners (13%) & Supervisors (42%) o Industry: Convention planning (13%); Food services (35%); Lodging (40%); Theme Park (12.6%)

• Generational: o Baby Boomers ranked ‘Achievement’, ‘Way of life’ and ‘Altruism’ as their top 3 values o Gen X & Gen Y reported common values as their top 3, although the order of ranking varied. These were ‘Way of life’, ‘achievement’, and ‘supervisory relationship’ o The least important values across the 3 generations were ‘aesthetics’, ‘associate’ and ‘management’. • Dimensional: o Post performing factor analysis of the 15 work values using various statistical tools, 4 underlying dimensions were arrived at. o These are ‘comfort and security’, ‘personal growth’, ‘professional growth’ and ‘work environment’ o Each dimension covered 3-4 work values with common traits. Table IV in the article lists each factor under its relevant dimension. o Frequency analysis of these dimensions revealed that ‘comfort and security’ ranked as most important to the sample population followed by ‘personal’ and then ‘professional growth’. ‘Work environment’ ranked least important.

Conclusion of the Survey:
The author chooses to interpret the factual information from the survey, through the following 3 conclusions:
1. Similarities and differences in Work Values across generations
b. The survey revealed that the top 5 work values common across generations were ‘Way of life’, ‘Achievement’ and ‘Supervisory relationships’. Noticeably, for ‘way of life’ this finding was different than those of Smola and Sutton’s (2002) where both ‘Gen X’ and ‘Baby boomers’ did not give as much importance to Work life balance. However, the author concludes that these differences could be the result of the sample population being from different industries. i.e. Manufacturing verses hospitality.
c. Other values which were ranked differently across generations are viewed as opportunities for an organization to be sensitive to different requirements for each generation. E.g. ‘Altruism’ & ‘intellectual stimulation’ was ranked higher by ‘baby boomers’, ‘security’ & ‘ independence’ was ranked higher by Gen X and ‘economic return’ ranked higher by Gen Y.
d. Based on these findings, the author has suggested various strategies that could lead to better productivity and higher retention across generations in the hospitality industry. Strategies based on these findings could also help organizations to attract the right talent. 2. Work value dimensions of Hospitality managers
a. Of the four dimensions, the survey revealed that hospitality professionals rank ‘Comfort and security’ highest. This dimensions covers work values such as ‘way of life’, ‘supervisory relationships’, ‘security’ and ‘economic return’.
b. Other dimensions such as ‘personal growth’ and ‘professional growth’ ranked next, indicating their intent to develop careers in the industry.
c. While ‘work environment’ was ranked last, the author believes it to be an outcome of ‘hygiene factor’ as this dimension is a given or a basic expectation when working in the hospitality industry. (unlike manufacturing industry)
d. Revelation of findings from each dimension provides overall guidelines for management to channelize their strategies on employee retention, productivity and career planning accordingly. 3. Generational Work Value Trends
a. Having noticed the preference shift of dimensions and work values from one generation to the other, the survey also revealed a trend in preference to work values by generation. E.g. Gen X ranked ‘economic returns’ higher than other generations and simultaneously ranked ‘supervisory relationships’ higher than the others as well. This indicates a link or interdependence between the two work values, as in order to ensure good economic returns it is important to have good supervisory relationships. Final Comments:
In Summary, the research successfully accomplishes its goal of understanding work values in the hospitality context. It does not limit itself to be of academic value as it provides views and suggestions on practical application of the findings for different generations of employees in the industry.
The approach to the research in terms of being industry specific, drawing references from previous work in this field, adopting a scientific methodology for capturing and analyzing data and the final paper presentation using APA guidelines, qualifies it to be considered as scholarly research.
If I were to present these findings as a short business briefing to my organization I would use a PowerPoint presentation and limit the content to
• Introduction of the research, its purpose and scope.
• Tables and explanation of survey methodology with reference to the key themes of the research. (work values, generation traits and dimensions)
• Practical applications by drawing reference to recommendations as suggested by the author, along with examples from my organization to help the audience relate and understand better.
• I would allot 50% of the time to practical applications and encourage the audience to contribute, post having understood the underlying assumptions and approach of the article.
• I would also like to further understand if the same person who is now a part of Gen Y changes his/her importance to work values as he/she progresses through to Gen X and baby boomers or are these completely different traits in different sets of people. In other words, it would be interesting to study whether these are 3 different generations or a change in expectations that one goes through as they age. I would like to draw reference to Maslow’s theory of needs (1943). i.e. Gen X ranks economic returns highest (bottom of the pyramid where Physiological & security needs are highest); Baby boomers ranked altruism higher (top of pyramid – Self Actualization & Esteem)

References • International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management. Emerald Article: Generational differences in work values: a study of hospitality management. Po-Ju Chen, Youngsoo Cho
• Pocket Guide to APA Style 2009, Update Edition, 3rd Edition. Robert Perrin, Indiana State University
• Elizur, D. (1984), “Facets of work values”, Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol. 69, pp. 379-89.
• Hofstede, G. (1980), Culture’s Consequences: International Differences in Work Related Values, Sage, Beverly Hills, CA.
• Mok, C., Pine, R. and Pizam, A. (1998), “Work values of Chinese hotel managers”, Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research, Vol. 21 No. 3, pp. 1-16.
• Pryor, R.G.L. (1987), “Differences among differences: in search of general work preference dimensions”, Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol. 72, pp. 426-33.
• Sagie, A., Elizur, D. and Koslowsky, M. (1996), “Work values: a theoretical overview and a model of their effects”, Journal of Organizational Behavior, Vol. 17, pp. 503-14.
• Smola, K. and Sutton, C. (2002), “Generational differences: revisiting generational work values for the new millennium”, Journal of Organizational Behavior, Vol. 23, pp. 363-82.
• Super, D.E. (1973), “The work values inventory”, in Zytowski, D.G. (Ed.), Contemporary Approaches to Interest Measurement, University of Minneapolis Press, Minneapolis, MN, pp. 189-205.
• White, C. (2005), “The relationship between cultural values and individual work values in the hospitality industry”, International Journal of Tourism Research, Vol. 7 Nos 4/5, pp. 221-9.
• Wong, C. and Chung, K. (2003), “Work values of Chinese food service managers”, International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 15 No. 2, pp. 66-75.
• http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow's_hierarchy_of_needs
• Zytowski, D. (1970), “The concept of work values”, Vocational Guidance Quarterly, Vol. 18, pp. 176-86.

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