Young workers disengaged by pressures of work: Survey

Work-life balance, long hours, job security big concerns
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 05/27/2011

Young workers around the world are lacking in engagement with their employers and are most affected by perceived pressures at work, posing long-term retention and management problems for companies and countries, according to a survey of 30,556 employees in 29 countries by GfK Custom Research, a market research firm.

In Canada, based on a survey of 2,000 people, only 18 per cent of 18 to 29 year olds are highly engaged with their employer, compared to 48 per cent of employees 60 years old and older. However, 49 per cent of 18 to 29 year olds are at least somewhat engaged, followed by 63 per cent of 30 to 39 year olds, 65 per cent of 50 to 59 year olds, 66 per cent of 40 to 49 year olds and 82 per cent of people 60 years old and older.

"In Canada, the younger generation of workers is experiencing increased stress levels and becoming more and more disengaged with their employers," said Annie Balant, account manager at GfK Research Dynamics in Canada. "These findings indicate a strong proportion of the younger workforce is open to changing jobs or their career paths. While the recession has been less dramatic in Canada than in the U.S., we still see a younger generation more likely to postpone major life decisions based on the economy. Employers looking to grow and retain young talent are facing challenges keeping this portion of the workforce engaged."

Internationally, some countries face a far more severe problem with the level of engagement in their young workforce. In Macedonia (36 per cent), France (32 per cent) and Turkey (32 per cent), close to one-third of their 18- to 29-year-old workers are 'highly engaged' with their employers, indicating a fairly stable and productive situation for companies. However, Hungary and the Czech Republic (six per cent each) and Serbia and Portugal (seven per cent each) all face a very different proposition. Retaining young talent could become problematic in these countries, as economies become stronger, said GfK.

Although younger employees are more likely to be free from the biggest responsibilities at work, a larger percentage of them are "frequently" or "nearly always" concerned about their work-life balance, pressure to work long hours and personal health, found the GfK International Employee Engagement Survey.

In Canada, 30 per cent of 19 to 29 year olds are concerned about work-life balance, compared to 17 per cent of those 60 years old and older. When it comes to stress at work, 41 per cent of 18 to 29 year olds are concerned, compared to 21 per cent of those 60 years old and older. The same contrast is true when it comes to job security (23 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively) along with pressure to work long hours (24 per cent and 13 per cent, respectively), resources to do a job effectively (27 per cent and 17 per cent, respectively) and personal health (22 per cent and 14 per cent, respectively). The other age groups fall largely in between.

More than one-half (52 per cent), of young employees in Canada believe there are career opportunities available for them in the job market, found the GfK survey. Nearly three-quarters (73 per cent) are actively looking for a job, or will be in the next six months, and 56 per cent said they would consider changing their career.

Internationally, 61 per cent of young workers believe there are career opportunities for them, many believing these lie with another employer or in another country. Six in 10 young workers (58 per cent) are actively looking for a job, or will be in the next 6 months, and 41 per cent said they are willing to emigrate to find new employment.

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