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A Multi-Cohort Examination of Generational Differences in Competency-based Performance and Engagement

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  • 1.Human PerformanceeerP Fo Journal:Manuscript Type:DraftOriginal ArticleieKeywords:Human PerformanceevManuscript ID:rRA Multi-Cohort Examination of Generational Differences in Competency-based Performance and Engagementgenerational differences, employee performance, employee engagement, Millennial employeesw lyOn URL: http:/mc.manuscriptcentral.com/hhup Email: hupeditor@pdri.com

2. Page 1 of 31Generational Differences Running head: GENERATIONAL DIFFERENCES IN COMPETENCY PERFORMANCErP FoA Multi-Cohort Examination of Generational Differences ineeCompetency-based Performance and EngagementwieevrR lyOn1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60Human PerformanceURL: http:/mc.manuscriptcentral.com/hhup Email: hupeditor@pdri.com1 3. Human PerformanceGenerational Differences2Abstract This study investigated potential differences between Millennial-generation and older employees competency-based performance and engagement using both cross-sectional and agedefined cohort samples. Data were obtained from 3766 customer service employees and their managers in a cross-organizational sample. Ratings of Millennials overall performance wasrP Focomparable with their counterparts from previous generations. When examining differences at the competency level, Millennials outperformed older employees in learning ability and adaptability but performed lower on a larger number of competencies relating to work ethic, selfmanagement, and interpersonal skills. Our study suggests a complex interplay in the relationshipeebetween performance and generation, with each generation leveraging different strengths torRachieve similar levels of overall performance. We discuss implications of our findings for coaching, training, and selecting a multi-generational workforce.wieev lyOn1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60Page 2 of 31URL: http:/mc.manuscriptcentral.com/hhup Email: hupeditor@pdri.com 4. Page 3 of 31Generational Differences3A Multi-Cohort Examination of Generational Differences in Competency-based Performance and Engagement Within the context of a strong interest in actively recruiting, managing and leveraging the skills of a diverse employee workforce, organizations have displayed increasing interest in and have drawn broader implications from research into potential distinctions among employeerP Fosubgroups, and generational effects have received extensive attention in recent years. This attention is likely due to the impending retirements of a large Baby Boom generation, which in turn has created an imbalance between jobs to be filled, and sufficiently-skilled new workforce entrants to fill them. This degree of imbalance is such that growth in the labor force itself may beeethreatened in the forthcoming decades (Toossi, 2007). This excess of employee demand mayrRhave expanded the proportion of candidates from the newest generations who are considered viable for employment. Because of this, organizations may face pressure to be less selective inevwho they hire; instead, they must recognize and prepare for a new generation as is, including their strengths and weaknesses in terms of on-the-job performance.ieThe generation currently entering the workforce, and therefore a primary focus of recentwattention, has been defined as the Millennial generation, with birth years between 1977 andOn2000. Similar to prior generations defined using a cohort-based approach to categorization, Millennials are classified based on the premise that the values and behaviors of individualsly1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60Human Performancewithin this cohort would be similarly shaped by defining events, most notably for this particular generation the 9/11 attacks and the emergent omnipresence of the Internet (Howe & Strauss, 2007). Although inherent conceptual and methodological risks with a generational perspective on employee categorization have been noted by numerous authors (e.g., Deal, 2007; Macky, Gardner, & Forsyth, 2008; Sullivan, 2008), it nonetheless remains a salient area of interest forURL: http:/mc.manuscriptcentral.com/hhup Email: hupeditor@pdri.com 5. Human PerformanceGenerational Differences4organizations facing tangible challenges with staffing and retaining the workforces that will define their future productivity and growth. With organizations seeking detailed guidance on these issues, it is important for researchers to conduct targeted investigations on this topic to inform research-guided recommendations, as a counterpoint to the extensive but not peerreviewed publications, many of which are based on anecdotal and/or small-scale examples.rP FoThe popular press frequently asserts that the Millennial generation differs notably from earlier generations in terms of workplace preferences and performance. Millennial workers reportedly prefer more collaborative work settings, adapt more quickly to change, are less engaged in their work, and are more likely to change jobs frequently (e.g., Hulett, 2006).eeOther popular publications suggest Millennials prefer time on the job for socializing with friends,rRwant all processes (e.g., job training) tightly integrated with current technology, and demand constant praise and recognition for their workplace contributions. The purpose of this paper is toevempirically-investigate these common stereotypes to uncover whether they are overgeneralizations or whether they accurately reflect some observable differences in behavioriebetween Millennials and the generations that came before them.wA secondary aim of this paper is to provide additional context for interpreting the data. InOnaddition to comparing behaviors of Millennial and older groups within a multi-year sample, we partitioned the available samples into three timeframes based on when the data were gathered.ly1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60Page 4 of 31We then used the age of Millennials in the present day to classify employees from each timeframe into equivalent age categories. Finally, we compared the magnitude of performance and engagement effects between these timeframes, in an attempt to disentangle generation effects from the conflating effects of age. Given that the concept of a generation gap did not arise with the Millennial generation Deal (2007) provides quotations indicating signs of suchURL: http:/mc.manuscriptcentral.com/hhup Email: hupeditor@pdri.com 6. Page 5 of 31Generational Differences5perceived distinctions as early as 400 B.C. a cohort-based perspective may provide insights into whether and how current effects differ from effects obtained in prior comparisons. Job Performance of Millennials Compared to earlier generations, Millennials are often viewed as more difficult to manage and retain as employees. While a moderate degree of research has been conductedrP Foregarding the work preferences and motivations of Millennials (e.g., Rawlins, Indvik, & Johnson, 2008; Taylor, Morin, Parker, Cohn, & Wang, 2009), very little empirical research exists regarding the relative job performance of younger generations as compared to their predecessors (Macky et al., 2008). In one of the few empirical studies to investigate this issue for GenerationeeX, the generation immediately preceding Millennials, Sessa, Kabacoff, Deal, and Brown (2007)rRcompared multisource feedback ratings of leaders from various generations. Due to the small sample sizes available for Millennial leaders (based on the small number of individualsevachieving a leadership role early in their career), they were not able to include this group in their comparisons. However, for Generation X leaders Sessa and her colleagues observed strongerieusage of individualistic rather than collectivist leadership styles. Although either of these styleswmay be effective in certain employment settings, this finding does suggest that Generation XOnemployees may differ from the preceding generations in terms of how they interact and work with others.ly1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60Human PerformanceIn terms of the Millennial generation specifically, but based on survey findings rather than structured performance information, jobfox (as cited by American Society for Public Administration, 2008) found that only 20% of corporate recruiters considered Millennials generally great performers and gave much higher ratings to those in other generational categories (e.g., 58% had highly favorable perceptions of Generation X workers). TheseURL: http:/mc.manuscriptcentral.com/hhup Email: hupeditor@pdri.com 7. Human PerformanceGenerational Differences6perceptions align with many of the anecdotal remarks regarding the job performance of Millennials found in the popular press and trade journals. For example, Hulett (2006) reported that Millennials are strong multi-taskers and agile learners, drawing upon their interactions with technology from an early age. Because the formal literature on generational differences in job performance is limited, research in the area of age and job performance may also be informative.rP FoBecause Millennials are also currently the youngest generation, our hypotheses will also draw upon the more developed literature surrounding age differences in job performance, while recognizing the importance of addressing the conflating nature of age versus generation effects. Because we a