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Older workers more private than younger ones: Survey

Poll results indicate generational gap in values, says expert

LEE JIAN XUAN on 09 Jul 2014

The Straits Times


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YOUNGER workers are more likely than their older counterparts to talk to colleagues about personal issues such as their salaries and relationships, a new survey has found.


A business networking website quizzed more than 1,000 workers in Singapore and found that, among 18- to 24-year-olds, four out of 10 would be willing to disclose their pay to a co-worker, compared with 18 per cent of baby boomers – those aged 55 to 65.


More than half of the younger group said they would turn to colleagues for relationship advice, compared with the Singapore average of 42 per cent.


Asked if their work performance is affected by their friendships with colleagues, 43 per cent of baby boomers said no, compared with only 14 per cent of the younger ones.


Human resource expert David Leong said the results indicate that the younger generation holds different values.


“These workers grew up in a more open society,” he said. “They are used to sharing everything they do, so it’s second nature for them to talk about such matters at work.”


Mr Leong, who runs recruitment firm PeopleWorldWide, added: “Some of the airport workers that I bring in, they have to be told not to share photographs of their workplace online as it could be an offence.”


The survey also found that people with friends at work are “happy, motivated and productive”. Six out of 10 Singaporeans said they have a colleague who “looks out for them”, higher than the global average of 49 per cent.


About a third of workers here also said they would choose to talk to a co-worker about family or relationship issues, rather than a partner or friend.


However, the results suggest that not all workplace friendships are as honourable as they seem. More than half would consider sacrificing friendship for a promotion, while one in five workers said they socialise at work to scale the career ladder.


About a fifth also reported that friendships with colleagues make them more competitive at work.


Said Mr Leong: “It’s often about the survival of the fittest but we should not be poisoned by the need to excel.”


Mr Mark Hall, the vice-president and country manager of recruitment company Kelly Services, said the data reflects “an ambitious and career- focused workforce”.


Accounts executive Yvonne Mok, 25, agreed with most trends highlighted but said: “I’d rather have a few close friends at work than a lot, just like in life. I wouldn’t be able to go one day without talking to anyone, but I don’t need to talk to everyone.”


LinkedIn’s research was part of a survey in April that polled over 11,500 full-time professionals from 14 countries.


Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.

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