This study estimated the relative influence of age/generation and tenure on job satisfaction and workplace climate perceptions. Data from the 2004, 2008, and 2012 Veterans Health Administration All Employee Survey (sample sizes >100 000) were examined in general linear models, with demographic characteristics simultaneously included as independent variables. Ten dependent variables represented a broad range of employee attitudes. Age/generation and tenure effects were compared through partial η2 (95% confidence interval), P value of F statistic, and overall model R2. Demographic variables taken together were only weakly related to employee attitudes, accounting for less than 10% of the variance. Consistently across survey years, for all dependent variables, age and age-squared had very weak to no effects, whereas tenure and tenure-squared had meaningfully greater partial η2 values. Except for 1 independent variable in 1 year, none of the partial η2 confidence intervals for age and age-squared overlapped those of tenure and tenure-squared. Much has been made in the popular and professional press of the importance of generational differences in workplace attitudes. Empirical studies have been contradictory and therefore inconclusive. The findings reported here suggest that age/generational differences might not influence employee perceptions to the extent that human resource and management practitioners have been led to believe.
Author Affiliations: National Center for Organization Development, Veterans Health Administration (Drs Teclaw, Osatuke, Fishman, Moore, and Dyrenforth), Cincinnati, and Department of Psychology, Miami University (Dr Fishman), Oxford, Ohio.
This material is based on work supported by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the research investigators and do not necessarily represent the view of the Department of Veterans Affairs or the US government.
The authors report no conflicts of interest.
Correspondence: Robert Teclaw, PhD, National Center for Organization Development, Veterans Health Administration, 11500 Northlake Dr, Suite 230, Cincinnati, OH 45249 (firstname.lastname@example.org).