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Student Research Study on Generational Differences in the Workplace to Be Used for Fall Conference

RELEASED: July 24, 2008

Gen-Con logoEAU CLAIRE — The results of a study of generational differences in the workplace, completed by four University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire senior marketing research students in collaboration with UW-Eau Claire Continuing Education, will be shared at the upcoming "Gen-Con 2008: Build the Vibe" conference Oct. 23 at The Florian Gardens in Eau Claire.

The students were participants in an upper-level, hands-on course designed to allow students to apply concepts as they learn them, said Dr. Robert Sutton, UW-Eau Claire professor of management and marketing. Students in the course work in groups of four on a wide variety of research projects, many of which are completed for area businesses and local organizations, he said.

"These projects benefit both the students and the local community," Sutton said. "The students have the opportunity to see how marketing research is applied and used in the real world, and the local community receives the benefit of the marketing research."

Students Kristin Bender, Mishawaka, Ind.; Laura Cavil, Green Bay; Crystal Maier, Verona; and Alissa Van Heel, Robbinsdale, Minn., conducted focus groups and an e-mail/Web survey of UW-Eau Claire alumni and regional employees from a variety of businesses to gather information about generational attitudes and perceptions.

More than half of the survey responders feel there is a generational gap in the workplace, and only one-third feel their company is effectively addressing the gap. The study suggests that companies should take action by encouraging, or even requiring, employees to participate in a training program that focuses on bridging the generational gap. It also suggests utilizing cross-generational work teams whenever possible.

Some results of the survey include:

  • 48 percent said their company's image was one reason they chose to apply with the company.
  • 71 percent feel their company's image influences their job satisfaction.
  • 91 percent feel that the physical layout in their workplace affects productivity.
  • 56 percent feel there is a generational gap in the workplace.
  • 32 percent felt their organization effectively addresses generational differences in the workplace.

The generational distribution of responders was as follows:

  • 35 percent are Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964).
  • 35 percent belong to Generation X (born between 1965 and the late 1970s).
  • 27 percent belong to Generation Y (born in the late 1970s or later).

The Gen-Con "Build the Vibe" conference will address how employers and employees can learn to create a positive workplace culture for all generations. Four speakers will discuss topic areas critical for creating an inclusive, engaging culture: image, people and space. Spike Jones, from Brains on Fire, will address image; Susan Zukowski, from National Presto Industries, will address people; and Mike and Erin McBrady, from ImageTrend Inc., will address space. The results and recommendations from the UW-Eau Claire student research project also will be presented.

To register, obtain additional program information, or to request reasonable accommodations for disabilities, please call Continuing Education at 715-836-3636/toll-free 866-893-2423, or see their Web site.

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LW/KH

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