Using these two themes, we developed a number of questions
to focus our research in this area. Our goal was to answer the ques-
tion of supposed differences in loyalty more concretely and, ulti-
mately, to help organizations create an atmosphere in which people
want to be loyal (as in “work hard” and “stay a long time”).
With regard to what people think about how long people
should stay with an organization, we developed the following
questions:
Are the generations different in whether they want to stay with
their organization for the rest of their career?
Are the generations different in how long they think people should
stay with their organization?
Are the generations different in terms of whether respondents
themselves are going to stay with their organization?
Do younger generations change jobs more frequently than older
generations did at the same age?
With regard to the question of how hard people work for their
organization, we asked concrete questions:
Are the generations different in terms of how many hours they
work in a week?
Are the generations different in terms of how frequently they work
on weekends?
Research
We asked people whether they want to stay with their organization,
how long they think people should stay with an organization, how
many jobs they’ve had (and over what time period in their lives),
how many hours they work per week, and how many weekends
they work per month.
Are the generations different in terms of wanting to stay
with their organization for the rest of their career?
We asked people to respond to the statement, “I would like to stay
120 RETIRING THE GENERATION GAP
Deal.c07 10/10/06 3:39 PM Page 120
with this organization for the rest of my working life.” What we
found is that people from every generation said they would like to
stay with their organization; the older they were, the more likely
they were to say that (see Figure 7.1). Similarly, people higher in
the organization said that more than people lower in the organi-
zation (Figure 7.2).
Are the generations different in terms of how long they
think people should stay with their organization?
We often hear people say that one of the biggest differences be-
tween the generations is that they have different beliefs about what
are the minimum and maximum lengths of time that an employee
should stay with an organization. We have heard people say that
younger people are more likely to think that there is no minimum
amount of time they should spend at a job (they can leave after
three months if they don’t like it, and it won’t matter), while also
believing that there is a maximum amount of time they should
spend with any organization (you shouldn’t stay more than five
years or you’ll get stale). We have also heard people say that, con-
LOYALTY DEPENDS ON THE CONTEXT, NOT ON THE GENERATION 121
Figure 7.1. Percentage of Respondents Agreeing with the
Statement, “Yes, I Would Like to Stay with This Organization
for the Rest of My Working Life,” by Generation.
Silents
Early Boomers
Late Boomers
Early Xers
Late Xers
70
80
Percentage of respondents
0
60
50
40
30
10
20
100
90
Deal.c07 10/10/06 3:39 PM Page 121
versely, older generations think there is a minimum amount of
time to be spent with any one organization to show that youre not
aky (at least a couple of years, preferably more), but that the
longer you spend with an organization, the better you look to
other potential employers.
So we asked people these questions: What is the minimum
amount of time people should spend with an organization? and
What is the maximum amount of time people should spend with
an organization?
Minimum Time. What the respondents told us is very different from
what we hear people saying. The most frequent response from peo-
ple of all generations is that there is no minimum amount of time
that it is appropriate to stay with an organization (see Table 7.1).
Contrary to conventional wisdom, it was the Early Xers who were
the most likely to say that one to two years was the minimum
amount of time to spend with an organization. Silents, Early
Boomers, and Late Xers were more likely to say that there was no
minimum time. Therefore the data show that the minimum time
122 RETIRING THE GENERATION GAP
Figure 7.2. Percentage of Respondents Agreeing with the
Statement, Yes, I Would Like to Stay with This Organization
for the Rest of My Working Life, by Organizational Level.
Top and Executive
Upper managemen
t
Management
Professional
70
80
Percentage of respondents
0
60
50
40
30
10
20
100
90
Deal.c07 10/10/06 3:39 PM Page 122

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