A Disengaged Generation: Young Workers Disengaged by Pressures of Work Worldwide

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MISSISSAUGA, Ontario, May 26, 2011 - Young workers around the world are lacking in engagement with their employers and are the most affected by perceived pressures at work, posing long-term retention and management problems for companies and countries, a new GfK study has found.

The study, conducted among more than 30,000 employees in 29 countries by GfK Custom Research, a global market research agency, finds a labor market polarized between disillusioned 18-29-year-olds and their older, possibly more resigned, counterparts.

Based on a national survey of 2000 interviews, conducted in Canada by GfK Research Dynamics, young employees are undergoing the same experience.

Although younger employees are more likely to be free from the biggest responsibilities at work, a larger percentage of them are "frequently" or "nearly always" concerned about their work-life balance, pressure to work long hours, and personal health.

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                            Percentage of workers "Frequently" or
    International                      "Nearly Always"
    =============                     concerned about:
                                      ----------------
                           Your       Your                 Resources
                   Your   levels       job     Pressure        to       Your
                   work-     of                    to       do your
                   life    stress   security      work         job    personal
                             at                  long
                  balance   work    ========     hours    effectively  health
                  =======  =====                =====     ===========  ======
      18 to 29
        years          39      40         33         31            34       32
      --------        ---     ---        ---        ---           ---      ---
      30 to 39
        years          34      38         31         26            31       26
      --------        ---     ---        ---        ---           ---      ---
      40 to 49
        years          30      36         26         23            30       25
      --------        ---     ---        ---        ---           ---      ---
      50 to 59
        years          28      34         27         23            32       27
      --------        ---     ---        ---        ---           ---      ---
    60 years and
         over          24      28         24         17            22       22
    ------------      ---     ---        ---        ---           ---      ---



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                           Percentage of workers "Frequently" or
       Canada                         "Nearly Always"
       ======                        concerned about:
                                     ----------------
                          Your       Your                 Resources
                  Your   levels       job     Pressure        to       Your
                  work-     of                    to       do your
                  life    stress   security      work         job    personal
                            at                  long
                 balance   work    ========     hours    effectively  health
                 =======  =====                =====     ===========  ======
      18 to 29
        years         30      41         23         24            27       22
      --------       ---     ---        ---        ---           ---      ---
      30 to 39
        years         33      35         19         21            23       20
      --------       ---     ---        ---        ---           ---      ---
      40 to 49
        years         26      41         16         14            20       18
      --------       ---     ---        ---        ---           ---      ---
      50 to 59
        years         24      32         20         15            23       24
      --------       ---     ---        ---        ---           ---      ---
    60 years and
         over         17      21         10         13            17       14
    ------------     ---     ---        ---        ---           ---      ---

    Source: GfK International Employee Engagement Survey, 2011

    Engagement with employer
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Looking at the opposite ends of the workforce age groups worldwide, just 21 percent of 18-29-year-olds are highly engaged with their employer, compared to 31 percent of those in their 60s(1). This 10-point gap between the younger 'doers' and those likely to be in the more senior positions poses real problems for businesses around the world, as it risks creating divided workplaces, inter-generational resentment and can hamper efforts to recruit, retain and motivate a flow of qualified young talent.

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                      Employees who are     Employees who are
     International         highly               engaged or
     =============       engaged (%)      highly engaged (%)
                         ===========       ==================
    18 to 29 years                   21                      62
    --------------                  ---                     ---
    30 to 39 years                   20                      64
    --------------                  ---                     ---
    40 to 49 years                   23                      66
    --------------                  ---                     ---
    50 to 59 years                   22                      66
    --------------                  ---                     ---
      60 years and
          over                       31                      75
      ------------                  ---                     ---


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The same pattern appears in the Canadian workforce, with only 18 percent of 18-29 year olds highly engaged with their employer, compared to 48 percent of employees in their 60s.

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                      Employees who are     Employees who are
         Canada            highly               engaged or
         ======          engaged (%)      highly engaged (%)
                         ===========       ==================
    18 to 29 years                   18                      49
    --------------                  ---                     ---
    30 to 39 years                   19                      63
    --------------                  ---                     ---
    40 to 49 years                   25                      66
    --------------                  ---                     ---
    50 to 59 years                   26                      65
    --------------                  ---                     ---
      60 years and
          over                       48                      82
      ------------                  ---                     ---

    Source: GfK International Employee Engagement Survey, 2011

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When we look internationally, some countries face a far more severe problem with the level of engagement in their young workforce. In Macedonia (36 percent), France (32 percent) and Turkey (32 percent), close to a third of their 18-29 year old workers are 'highly engaged' with their employers, indicating a fairly stable and productive situation for companies. However, at the bottom of the 'engaged' list, Hungary and the Czech Republic (6 percent each) and Serbia and Portugal (7 percent each) all face a very different proposition. Retaining young talent could become problematic in these countries, as economies become stronger.

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                    18-29 year olds
                        'highly
                     engaged' with
                         their
    Country          employer (%)
    =======          ============
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    Macedonia                    36
    France                       32
    Turkey                       32
    Mexico                       27
    USA                          24
    Austria                      20
    Brazil                       20
    Philippines                  19
    Canada                       18
    Switzerland                  18
    Ukraine                      16
    Argentina                    15
    Poland                       15
    Colombia                     14
    Germany                      13
    Israel                       13
    Belgium                      12
    Bulgaria                     12
    Romania                      12
    Sweden                       12
    UK                           12
    Russia                       10
    Netherlands                   9
    Slovakia                      9
    Peru                          8
    Portugal                      7
    Serbia                        7
    Czech
     Republic                     6
    Hungary                       6
    -------                     ---

    Source: GfK International Employee Engagement Survey, 2011

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Internationally, 61 percent of young workers believe there are career opportunities for them, many believing these lie with another employer - or in another country. Six in 10 young workers (58 percent) are actively looking for a job, or will be in the next 6 months. Two fifths (41 percent) are willing to emigrate to find new employment.

Fewer, but still a majority (52 percent), of young employees in Canada believe that there are career opportunities available for them in the job market. Nearly three quarters of young employees (73 percent) are actively looking for a job, or will be in the next 6 months. Many (56 percent) would consider changing their career.

It is crucial, therefore, for business to confront and resolve the causes of disengagement in their young workforce, if they are to retain talent.

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    Work pressures take their toll
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In many countries, work pressures are taking their toll on well-being amongst the younger work generation. The recession has dealt a hammer blow to the aspirations of many. Internationally, more than a third of young employees have been forced to accept a job they were unhappy with (36 percent) or been driven down a different career path (37 percent) because of the economy. In the U.S., more than four in ten young employees feel like they have been forced to take a job that they are not happy with (42 percent), or have taken a different career path because of the economy (45 percent). Nearly half of young workers (47 percent) have been forced to change life plans, such as delay having children or buying a home, because of the economy.

This, in turn, may be having a real impact on younger workers' well-being. Internationally, two fifths (40 percent) are frequently stressed at work - which is a higher percentage than that seen in any other age. Moreover, almost a third (31 percent) feel they are under pressure to work long hours. In Canada, two fifths (41 percent) are frequently concerned about the levels of stress they experience at work. In addition, almost one quarter of young workers (24 percent) feel pressured by their company to work long hours, more than any other age group.

As a result, internationally, two fifths of young workers (39 percent) are unhappy with their work-life balance - again the highest percentage of all age groups - while a third (32 percent) feel that work pressure and stress frequently impacts their health - five points more than those in their 50s, and ten points higher than those in their 60s. In the U.S., two fifths of young workers (43 percent) are unhappy with their work-life balance, the highest percentage of all age groups, while nearly a third (31 percent) believe that work pressure is affecting their health, again more than any other age group.

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    More support for young workers
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"In Canada, the younger generation of workers is experiencing increased stress levels and becoming more and more disengaged with their employers," said Annie Balant, Account Manager at GfK Research Dynamics, Canada. "These findings indicate a strong proportion of the younger workforce is open to changing jobs or their career paths. While the recession has been less dramatic in Canada than in the U.S., we still see a younger generation more likely to postpone major life decisions based on the economy. Employers looking to grow and retain young talent are facing challenges keeping this portion of the workforce engaged."

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    Editor's note: Please source all information to GfK Custom Research.

    The GfK Canada Employee Engagement Benchmark 2011 Survey
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The GfK Canada Employee Engagement Benchmark 2011 Survey was conducted from February 16 to March 31, 2011, by GfK Research Dynamics. This online survey is based on interviews with 2,000 employed adults age 18 or older. The data were weighted to reflect the demographic composition (industry, gender, age) of the Canadian workforce using targets provided by Statistics Canada. This survey is part of a multi-national survey that includes 29 countries worldwide.

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    About the GfK International Employee Engagement Survey:
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The GfK International Employee Engagement Survey was conducted by international research firm GfK Custom Research. It includes the opinions of 30,556 working adults in 29 countries who were interviewed between February 8th and April 4th 2011 using online, telephone or in-person interviewing techniques appropriate to the country.

Data were weighted to represent the demographic composition (industry, gender and age) of each country. To produce global statistics that combine countries, the data for each country was also weighted by GDP (PPP).

The questionnaire was developed by an international team of Employee Engagement experts, with input from experts in each of the 29 countries.

Countries surveyed were: Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Macedonia, Mexico, Netherlands, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, UK, Ukraine, USA.

(1) GfK's Employee Engagement definition measures employees' identification with their company's success, dedication, and willingness to stay with their employer.

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    About GfK Employee Engagement
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GfK Employee Engagement experts offer a wide range of information and consultancy services that help organizations develop their talent more effectively. Our teams of HR consultants provide end-to-end solutions, designing, implementing and supporting people-related strategies including; employee engagement, talent management, HR & team effectiveness, internal communications, change management, training and coaching and business performance metrics.

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    About GfK Research Dynamics
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GfK Research Dynamics is a division of GfK Custom Research North America providing leading marketing research techniques and consulting in the field of advanced quantitative methods and leading consultants in the customer loyalty and brand communication arenas. Built on a heritage of sound marketing science, we take marketing research information beyond traditional boundaries and actively involve clients in brainstorming and implementation workshops. For further information, visit our website: www.gfknorthamerica.com.

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    About GfK Custom Research North America
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Headquartered in New York, GfK Custom Research North America is part of the GfK Group. The GfK Group offers the fundamental knowledge that industry, retailers, services companies and the media need to make market decisions. It delivers a comprehensive range of information and consultancy services in three business sectors--Custom Research, Retail and Technology and Media. The no. 4 market research organization worldwide operates in more than 100 countries and employs over 10,000 staff. In 2010, the GfK Group had revenues of EUR 1.29 billion (approximately US$ 1.7 billion). For more information, visit www.gfkamerica.com. Follow us at www.gfkinsights4u.com or on Twitter @gfkamerica.

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SOURCE GFK Custom Research North America

For further information: Derek Brown, Coyne PR, +1-973-316-1665, DBrown@CoynePR.com; Elizabeth Tillman, GfK Custom Research North America, +1-212-240-5300, info@gfkamerica.com Web Site: http://www.gfknorthamerica.com

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GFK Custom Research North America

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