Generational differences in work values, work-related outcomes and person-organisation values fit : a thesis presented in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Psychology at Massey University
Values are important constructs in guiding behaviour and enhancing motivation in the workplace. However, more research is required into generational patterns in work values, particularly as much of the information regarding age differences is based on stereotypes. The aim of this research was to investigate differences between the four generational groups currently in the workforce (Matures, Baby Boomers, Generation X and Baby Boom Echo), according to work values and the work-related outcomes of job satisfaction, affective organisational commitment and intention to leave. The study also examined how differing values may contribute to the perception of person-organisation values fit. An overall theoretical model of person-organisation values fit and outcomes was developed and then assessed for invariance across age using structural equation modelling. A sample of 504 Auckland employees completed a questionnaire (either online or via pencil and paper). Results indicated that the youngest generations (the Generation X and Echo group) placed more importance on status-related work values than the oldest generations (the Matures and Baby Boomers). The Echo group also placed more importance on having a social working environment than the Matures and Boomers. Freedom-related work values were also rated as being more important to the Echo group than any other generation. The two youngest generations showed greater intent to leave their organisations in the next 12 months compared with older groups. In terms of perceived fit between individual values and organisational values, Matures and Boomers reported better fit with extrinsic values than Generation X, and better fit with status-related values than the Echo group. The model of overall person-organisation values fit and outcomes was confirmed, and was invariant across groups, suggesting that the overall fit process was consistent across age. The findings from this study offer insight into possible areas for organisational intervention to enhance communication and acceptance between generational groups. Future areas of research are also suggested to improve understanding of this field.