Knowledge Center

The Next Generation: Today’s Professionals, Tomorrow’s Leaders

In this unique study, Catalyst studies the work experiences and expectations of the next generation of leaders in both U.S. and Canadian business. Specifically, we studied managers and professionals born between 1965 and 1975 employed in corporations and professional services firms. We examined what draws women and men of this generation into a particular job or career, what their work-related expectations are, and why they would leave a company. We also examined organizational commitment, work satisfaction, personal and work-related values and goals, barriers to advancement, strategies to achieve success, and issues related to work/life balance.

While Catalyst recognizes that no group is monolithic in its outlook and experiences, we set out to understand this generation’s motivations, and to determine whether widely held assumptions about it are myths or realities. We focus on this generation because it is positioned to teach us how the workplace is changing or should change to attract, retain, develop, and advance new talent. It is the next generation of leaders.

This study dispels several commonly held assumptions about this generation of employees. For example, the next generation is highly committed to its current employers. Almost one-half (47 percent) state that they would be happy to spend the rest of their career with their current organization. In addition, they were attracted to—and would leave—their organizations for fairly traditional reasons. Their top reasons for joining their current organization are: perceived advancement opportunities; appropriate position offered; and appropriate compensation offered. Their top reasons for leaving include increased intellectual stimulation, greater advancement opportunities, and increased compensation. This is a generation that is highly committed to achieving a balance between work and personal life. For example, this generation places more importance on personal goals and values than those related to work, and wants organizational support to manage work/life commitments. At the same time, members of this generation are grappling with diversity-related issues, and women and men have some very different workplace perceptions. For example, while 42 percent of women agree that women have to outperform men to get the same rewards, only 11 percent of men do. Sixty-two percent of men report that women are paid a salary comparable to men for doing similar work in their organization, while 30 percent of women do.

Sponsors: Ernst & Young, GE Fund