'Generation Y' workers prize money and benefits in jobs, survey finds

Survey finds that Generation Y, those born between 1981 and 1994, also expect close mentoring and fast feedback from colleagues

Kristie Wong

As employees, Hong Kong's twenty-somethings are impatient, self-centred and likely to place the potential for monetary gain above all else when choosing a job, a survey by a management consultancy shows.

The locally-based Tamty McGill Consultants International found that workers from Generation Y - or the so-called post-1980s generation - are creative and enthusiastic, but expect close mentoring and instant feedback from colleagues.

The survey interviewed 1,139 people, including 468 employers and supervisors, over more than two years. The goal was to help employers gain a better understanding of the cohort, which will soon make up a large part of the workforce.

The firm defines members of Generation Y as those born between 1981 and 1994.

Nearly half of the workers interviewed said they preferred supportive mentoring, in which help was provided as needed and according to the situation.

Conversely, four in 10 bosses favoured collaborative mentoring, which focuses on results rather than approach and thus allows employees more freedom.

Virginia Choi, managing director at Tamty McGill, says Generation Y's preference for close mentoring may reflect the fact that they grew up in a relatively stable economy and that many had parents who gave them extra care and guidance. These youngsters consequently seek more support and advice and want clearer career paths laid out for them when they enter the workforce, she says.

The survey also shows that working members of Generation Y considered "monetary compensation and benefits" to be most important when choosing a job. Some 41 per cent considered job title and salary as the biggest motivating career factors.

A "clear and achievable career pathway" was second most important to them. In a similar study two years ago, "interests and fun" took the top ranking.

Choi says the rising cost of daily expenses - such as transport, food and entertainment - was leading young workers to place financial gain over personal interests.

Nonetheless, she says they should try to have fun at work and seek a balanced life, including volunteer work. On their part, employers should try to lighten the atmosphere in the office by, for instance, allowing employees to bring family members to work on certain days, Choi says.

"Gen-Y should not only look at the salary level, but should take into consideration the work values of the company when choosing where to work," Choi said.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Cash comesfirst whenyoung lookfor work