Generation Y has higher career expectations for pay and promotion than all previous generations

14 April 2013

[Singapore]  15 April, 2013: As the first wave of baby boomers leave the workforce, organisations are going to have to rely more heavily on their Generation Y (Gen Y) employees. In order to hire and retain the best, employers will need to take Gen Y’s high expectations for pay and promotion into account. This is according to a survey by specialist finance and accounting recruitment firm, Robert Half.

Attracting Gen Y
The survey, which polled more than 2,100 CFOS and Finance Directors across 15 countries, including 150 in Singapore, revealed that 33 per cent of respondents worldwide find Gen Y the hardest to recruit. This was followed by 26 per cent having difficulty recruiting Gen X. The Baby Boomers are the easiest to hire with just 10 per cent saying they are hard to find. In addition, Gen Y was the hardest to recruit in 11 of the 15 countries surveyed.

In Singapore, 54 per cent of the respondents cited that Gen Y is the hardest to recruit, compared to Gen X (21 per cent) and Baby Boomers (9 per cent).

Retaining Gen Y
Hiring a Gen Y employee is hard, but retaining them is even harder globally and in Singapore.  

Which generation is the most challenging to retain?   

  All Countries Singapore
Baby Boomers (born 1946 - 1964) 7% 13%
Generation X (born 1965 - 1978) 21% 17%
Generation Y (born 1979 - 1999) 45% 59%
None -- all are equally challenging to retain 21% 8%


Globally, 45 per cent of employers say Gen Y is the hardest to retain, followed by Gen X at 21 per cent, and the Baby Boomers are a challenge for just 7 per cent.  In Singapore, when it comes to retention challenges, 59 per cent point to Gen Y, 17 per cent to Gen X and 13 per cent to the Baby Boomers. Out of the 15 countries surveyed, Chile has the highest percentage of companies struggling to retain Gen Y, followed by Singapore.

When asked why Gen Y employees are difficult to retain, 80 per cent of the Singapore respondents believe Gen Y employees have high expectations for career advancement, while 75 per cent say Gen Y want more remuneration than they are worth.

The survey also found that Gen X and Gen Y employees place the same emphasis on career advancement, while Baby Boomers are the most focused on work-life balance across the generations.

Why is it challenging to retain Baby Boomers / Gen X / Gen Y?

  Baby Boomers Gen X Gen Y
Expectations for remuneration 65% 52% 75%
Expectations for career advancement 60% 80% 80%
Expectations for work-life balance 50% 48% 45%
Other 0% 0% 2%


Ms Stella Tang, Director of Robert Half Singapore explained why Gen Y is by far the hardest group of employees to retain in Singapore’s tight labour market.

“Gen Y is the generation that ‘wants it all’ and they ‘want it now’ – good pay, benefits, rapid career advancement, work-life harmony, interesting and meaningful work. As they are likely to job hop for a pay increment or promotion, companies need to do more to engage Gen Y employees and give them roles that leverage their strengths if they want to keep them. One example would be to tap their savviness with technology and social media to lead a social networking task force to drive a business need.” Ms Tang said.


Contact us


Gabrielle Nagy 
Public Relations Manager, Asia Pacific
P: +61 2 8028 7751
E: [email protected]

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