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Ernst & Young LLP

Michele Vana

Younger managers rise in the ranks: survey quantifies management shift and reveals challenges, preferred workplace perks, and perceived generational strengths and weaknesses

New York, September 3, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — EY released new research today that shows a significant shift in Generations Y and X moving into management roles in the past five years and provides context, in light of this shift, for managing the generational mix. The research also explores perks that matter most to retain and engage employees of different age groups, and perceived strengths and weaknesses of members and managers of each generation.

EY’s external online generations survey of more than 1,200 US, cross-company professionals includes evenly split responses from managers and non-managers in three select generations Gen Y/millennials: currently ages 18-32; Gen X: ages 33-48; and baby boomers: ages 49-67.

The survey reveals that management is evolving quickly: between 2008 and 2013 alone, 87% of Gen Y managers surveyed took on a management role vs. 38% of Gen X and 19% of baby boomer managers. By comparison, from 2003 to 2008, 12% Gen Y, 30% Gen X and 23% of boomers moved into management.

In considering today’s economic climate, most respondents selected Gen X (80%) as being equipped to manage effectively, followed closely by boomers (76%) and Gen Y (27%). Looking ahead to the economic conditions of 2020, respondents’ positive opinion of Gen X managers (65%) still persists and outpaces boomers (27%) and Gen Y, but the expectations that Gen Y will manage effectively in 2020 nearly double (from 27% now to 51% in 2020). As expected, boomers were least likely to be identified as equipped to manage effectively in 2020 economic conditions, possibly because respondents expect more boomers to move into retirement.

“As management shifts to younger generations, the research reveals areas companies can focus on to enhance skill sets, address the challenges of managing multiple generations, and retain and engage employees by understanding which workplace perks they may value most,” said Karyn Twaronite, the EY Americas Inclusiveness Officer and a partner of Ernst & Young LLP. “While it’s encouraging that millennials are expected to significantly grow their managerial skills by 2020, the onus is on companies to also give them equitable opportunities to gain the right mentors, sponsors, career experiences and training to capitalize on this optimism.”

The survey findings will be discussed at a Sept. 10 event and webcast exclusively sponsored and hosted by Ernst & Young LLP to celebrate the publication of bestselling author Dan Schawbel’s latest book, Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success (available today, Sept. 3, from St. Martin’s Press, a division of MacMillan), which explores ways millennials and other generations can advance their careers. Schawbel will deliver a first-of-its-kind keynote on the book and moderate a multi-generational panel of executives and professionals from American Express, Johnson & Johnson and EY, as well as the Gen Y CEO of The Muse who is on Forbes’ 2012 “30 Under 30” list. A media advisory with more detail, including how to register for the webcast, is available here.

Managing the generational mix
Three quarters (75%) of respondents who identified as managers agree that managing multi-generational teams is a challenge and one in five managers (20%) report managing a mostly even mix of employees from all three generations.

Different work expectations (77%) and a lack of comfort with younger employees managing older employees (72%) were the leading challenges identified across all generations. However, more than two-thirds (69%) of respondents said their organization has made some effort toward alleviating the challenges. Company efforts include work style accommodations (37%), team-building exercises (36%), generational differences training (32%), cross-generational networking (26%) and tailored communications (25%).

“We estimate that more than 60% of our workforce at Ernst & Young LLP today is Gen Y,” Twaronite added. “In response, we’ve taken a proactive approach to managing the evolving generational mix in our business, from hosting firm-wide webcasts on generational differences and similarities, to tailoring our recruiting, talent development and communications practices to best appeal to an increasing millennial population. Investments like these are a prerequisite for building high-performing, generationally-diverse teams.” 

How to retain and engage each generation
In polling respondents about the importance of various workplace perks, cash is still king among all the generations and ranked first by nearly half of them (49%), while benefits such as healthcare and retirement ranked first by 22%. Boomers were significantly more likely to identify benefits as the most important perk compared to younger generations (29% vs. 19% Gen X and 17% Gen Y).

Generational Strengths and Weaknesses
While every individual is different, the survey revealed perceived strengths and weaknesses of both the members and managers of each generation that can be instructive as companies work to effectively manage, engage and strengthen the generational mix.

Gen X

Gen Y


Survey methodology
EY conducted its external, cross-company generations survey in late June 2013. Respondents were evenly split among the three defined generational age groups (Gen Y: 33%, Gen X: 33% and boomers: 34%) and fairly evenly divided among males (48%) and females (52%). A majority of respondents (98%) worked full-time, had some higher education (95%) and reported household income in excess of US $75K a year (57%). EY’s survey was fielded by ORC International and the survey instrument was designed by FleishmanHillard Research and EY.

Notes to editors
Charts to accompany the survey findings within this release are attached.

About EY
EY is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. The insights and quality services we deliver help build trust and confidence in the capital markets and in economies the world over. We develop outstanding leaders who team to deliver on our promises to all of our stakeholders. In so doing, we play a critical role in building a better working world for our people, for our clients and for our communities.

EY refers to the global organization and may refer to one or more of the member firms of Ernst & Young Global Limited, each of which is a separate legal entity. Ernst & Young Global Limited, a UK company limited by guarantee, does not provide services to clients. For more information about our organization, please visit ey.com.

This news release has been issued by Ernst & Young LLP, a member of the global EY organization that provides services to clients in the US.

Photo Gallery

Chart 1A: Perceived characteristics of members of each generation
Chart 1A: Perceived characteristics of members of each generation
Chart 1B: Perceived characteristics of members of each generation
Chart 1B: Perceived characteristics of members of each generation
Chart 2: Members of each generation that best display the following characteristics
Chart 2: Members of each generation that best display the following characteristics
Chart 3A: Perceived skills of managers of each generation
Chart 3A: Perceived skills of managers of each generation
Chart 3B: Managers of each generation that best display the following skills
Chart 3B: Managers of each generation that best display the following skills

Related Document

Executive Summary: Younger Managers Rise in the Ranks

Related Links

Website: Younger Managers Rise in the Ranks

Media Advisory: EY to Host Promote Yourself Book Launch Event and Webcast, Discuss New Research

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