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Generational preferences for work environment fit: effects on employee outcomes

James W. Westerman (Department of Management, Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina, USA)
Jeanne H. Yamamura (University of Nevada Reno, Reno, Nevada, USA)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 3 April 2007




The examination of generational differences is an important area of inquiry for management research. Firms must recognize the influence of the values and work preferences of the next generation on organizational outcomes in order both to retain staff and to groom future leaders. It is proposed to examine the theory that firms' lack of success at employee retention may be impacted by the extent to which they understand and address generational differences in values, goals, and preferences.


This study used survey methodology to examine generational and gender differences amongst the work environment preferences of 234 accountants in accounting firms.


The results indicated the importance of goal orientation and system work environment fit for younger generation workers on satisfaction and intention to remain; and relationship fit on the satisfaction of Baby Boomers. Baby Boomers also experienced higher levels of overall satisfaction than younger generation employees.

Research limitations/implications

The sample is limited to accountants in the USA.


Generational differences significantly impact employee attitudes and outcomes in the workplace. If firms are unable to modify their cultures and work environments to adequately meet the needs of their younger generation employees, they will continue to experience high levels of dissatisfaction and turnover.



Westerman, J.W. and Yamamura, J.H. (2007), "Generational preferences for work environment fit: effects on employee outcomes", Career Development International, Vol. 12 No. 2, pp. 150-161.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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