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Hiring Advice Engaging your workforce Younger vs Older Employees: What Holds the Key to Their Happiness?
Younger vs Older Employees: What Holds the Key to Their Happiness?

Younger vs Older Employees: What Holds the Key to Their Happiness?


As an employer, are you aware of what makes your employees happy and what makes them unhappy? The recently concluded 2017 Job Happiness Index report, jointly conducted by and jobsDB, revealed the keys to your employees’ happiness in the workplace and what factors cause job dissatisfactions. Administrated from 31st July 2017 to 31st August 2017, the survey was conducted on a total of 35,513 employees from across 7 major Asian economies.

In this survey, employees were asked to answer questions that are related to their happiness level, then rate these questions between 1 and 10 (extremely unhappy to extremely happy). They were also required to rate which 13 specific job qualities/factors make them happy, then provide the rating between 1 and 7 (very unhappy to very happy). The detailed survey records the happiness index across all ages, allowing us to have a closer look at the differences that drive happiness between the young and older employees. 

Top 3 factors for job happiness in the workplace

The survey defines young employees to be between the ages of 21 to 30 and older employees to be aged from 31 to 45 and above. It further revealed that, although there is a slight difference in ranking between the young and older employees, the top 3 happiness factors across all demographics are ‘colleagues’, ‘work location’ and ‘company reputation’. 

The survey found that young employees cited ‘colleagues’ as their top factor for job happiness whereas this factor was ranked 2nd among the older employees. This comes as a no surprise given the need for younger employees to form meaningful relationships at the beginning of their careers in order for them to expand their future social circle while older employees only focus on maintaining harmonious relationships with their colleagues and co-workers to prevent work conflicts.

The 2nd factor that makes young employees happy at work is the ‘location’ of their workplace whereas this factor was the top factor for older employees. Although having a workplace that is nearer to home is a matter of convenience for both age groups, this matters more for older employees as they generally have families and would need to be home sooner than their younger co-workers.

Interestingly, both young and older employees ranked ‘company reputation’ as their 3rd factor for job happiness. Nevertheless, their reasons differ slightly with the young employees citing having a prestigious company as their past employer potentially adds value to their resume whereas older employees would prefer a reputable employer to enjoy better benefits not just for themselves but for their immediate family members as well.

Top 3 factors for job dissatisfaction in the workplace

On the opposite end of job happiness is the top three factors of job dissatisfaction and this differs significantly between the two age groups. Generally, the survey found that young employees are unhappy with their salary and benefits and this changed to career development and training opportunities for older employees.

‘Benefits and perks’ was ranked at the bottom for young employees; this signifies how important attractive privileges are in creating a competitive package of employment when hiring young employees.

Young employees also cited ‘basic salary’ as the 2nd factor for job dissatisfaction whereby the compensation for work performed does not meet young employees’ expectation in today’s challenging economy.

The 3rd factor that creates job dissatisfaction among young employees is ‘career development’. This was due to the concerns of young employees on the poor outlook of their career growth. However, ‘career development’ was ranked as the factor that creates the most dissatisfaction for older employees. This was because older employees place higher importance on climbing the corporate ladder and a lack of career development hinders them from advancing further in their career.

For older employees, ‘leadership team’ and ‘training opportunities’ are ranked as the 2nd and 3rd factors for job dissatisfaction respectively. This is mainly due to the fact that good leadership matters a lot to older employees as it impacts the work morale and productivity as well as the need for older employees to continuously receive training to improve and stay up-to-date with their skills and knowledge.

The findings of this survey serve as a helpful guide for companies and HR professionals who want to truly understand what the pursuit of happiness are for employees across all demographics, and what would trigger dissatisfaction and unhappiness in the workplace. Think about it, when was the last time you check if your employees are truly happy?

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