New generations: new expectations and new problems?
Introduction In this chapter we consider the question of whether or not there have been any significant changes in behaviour in relation to the employment relationship, both between the different generations and across the equivalent generations over time. If there have been changes, are they relatively minor matters of taste and preference, or might they affect deeper aspects of behaviour and mindset? Sparrow1 has asked some questions that will arise if there has been a shift in values across the generations. Are higher levels of insecurity associated with a shift in the acceptable timeframe for rewards, with a tendency for more immediate reward and less deferred gratification? As employees make choices about the exchange of free time for consumerism, will they automatically trade off or exchange more free time for less pay? What will be the impact of the increasing attractions of, cost of losing touch with, but desire to stay in touch with, a consumer society? Will the creation of increasingly productive households and processes of wealth creation outside employment (through the value of housing, inheritance of wealth from previous generations and so forth) lead to strategies of income substitution and blunt the value and incentives created by rewards from employment? Will the pursuit of job pauperizing economic growth mean that traditional careers, progression systems and rewards expectations become the interests of an ever narrower range of people, given that young employees enter the organization later and older employees leave it earlier? Are changes in many areas of employment leading to large segments of the population becoming estranged from traditional social expectations of advancement and the historically validated exchange of financial security for compliance at work?