Generational differences in workplace attitudes and job satisfaction

Jeffrey M. Cucina (U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Washington, District of Columbia, USA)
Kevin A. Byle (U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Washington, District of Columbia, USA)
Nicholas R. Martin (Aon, Washington, District of Columbia, USA)
Sharron T. Peyton (U.S. Secret Service, Washington, District of Columbia, USA)
Ilene F. Gast (U.S. Customs and Border Protection (Retired), Washington, District of Columbia, USA)

Journal of Managerial Psychology

ISSN: 0268-3946

Publication date: 9 April 2018



The purpose of this paper is to examine the presence of generational differences in items measuring workplace attitudes (e.g. job satisfaction, employee engagement).


Data from two empirical studies were used; the first study examined generational differences in large sample, multi-organizational administrations of an employee survey at both the item and general-factor levels. The second study compared job satisfaction ratings between parents and their children from a large nationwide longitudinal survey.


Although statistically significant, most generational differences in Study 1 did not meet established cutoffs for a medium effect size. Type II error was ruled out given the large power. In Study 2, generational differences again failed to reach Cohen’s cutoff for a medium effect size. Across both studies, over 98 percent of the variance in workplace attitudes lies within groups, as opposed to between groups, and the distributions of scores on these variables overlap by over 79 percent.


Prior studies examining generational differences in workplace attitudes focused on scale-level constructs. The present paper focused on more specific item-level constructs and employed larger sample sizes, which reduced the effects of sampling error. In terms of workplace attitudes, it appears that generations are more similar than they are different.



The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Federal Government, or Aon. Portions of this research have been presented at the 2014 annual meeting of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology.


Cucina, J., Byle, K., Martin, N., Peyton, S. and Gast, I. (2018), "Generational differences in workplace attitudes and job satisfaction", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 33 No. 3, pp. 246-264.

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