This was what Kelly SA concluded two years ago in a research project that looked at the South African work environment. For some reason, Kelly no longer show the results of any of their great research on their website. But never fear, thanks to The Wayback Machine, I have found a copy of the article, and I copy it for you below.
The report is archived here. And credit where it is due: thanks Kelly SA for the fantastic research.

Employers could increase their chances of meeting the huge challenge of diversity management if they focus on the age group as well as the race group.
That’s one of the key messages that’s emanated from an exciting new study that for the first time enables business to optimise human capital development – the hidden triggers that drive the attitudes and output of the national workforce – through greater insight into generational factors.
A diversity management breakthrough has been made possible by a powerful, ground-breaking study – the 2003 Kelly Human Capital Satisfaction Survey.
Its unique spotlight on attitudinal differences across employee age groups finally moves the labour market beyond decades of dependence on race-based assumptions.
South Africa’s leading staffing solutions organisation, Kelly launched this groundbreaking survey this week to an audience of business decision-makers, HR managers and other specialists within the field of human capital management.
Kelly commissioned expert researchers in the field of human capital management and organisational behaviour. The survey involved more than 2000 employees from different backgrounds and different educational levels who responded to more than 150 questions on a wide range of workplace issues. In addition, more than 250 employers from various commercial and industrial sectors were also surveyed. The main thrust of the study was to establish the level of workplace satisfaction and in fact what motivates and drives the South African workforce.
Says Kelly managing director, Tracey Czakan: “One of the drivers of high western productivity is their detailed insight into what motivates their workforce at various stages in life. They can utilise these generational triggers because of years of research into distinct age groups.”
“South African business never had the benefit of this tool. Kelly thought it was about time we did … which is why we commissioned this authoritative study and applied a generational filter to the data with surprising and groundbreaking results.’
“It puts an entirely new perspective on human capital development, employee satisfaction, motivation and productivity.”
Western studies identify four age-groups: Matures (born pre-1945), Baby Boomers (born 1945-65), Generation X (born 1966-1980) and Generation Y (born after 1980).
Continues Czakan: “However, our workforce, in particular Historically Disadvantaged Individuals (HDIs) did not share the same experiences as the rest of the world. So, we wanted to know whether an age-group breakdown on the western pattern would still be relevant if applied to HDIs.”
“It turned out to be extremely relevant. We found four distinct generations among HDIs. What’s more, they often indicated similar responses to white South Africans (categorised as: Matures, Baby Boomers, Generation X and Generation Y) in the same age range.”
“We found HDI generations drawn using various well-known historical landmarks compared favourably with similar age groups in the non-HDI sample. One slight change was that the age groups that grouped together well were generally of school age during or after the historical event (therefore born up to five years earlier).”
The 2003 Kelly Human Capital Satisfaction Survey provides groundbreaking generational snapshots of four similar HDI groups: the Zuma Generation (born pre-1945), Lutuli Generation (born 1948-69), Uprising Generation (born 1970-79) and Liberation Generation (born post 1980).
Researchers found that similar generations often share similar attitudes, irrespective of race. For example, White ‘Matures’ have much in common with HDIs from the Zuma Generation and so on.
Among eyebrow-raising findings is that the young, whatever their race, show least support for Affirmative Action.
Some employers have assumed that older workers need sensitising to the need for AA initiatives in view of a supposed attachment to the apartheid norms they grew up with. In fact, they are least concerned possibly in view of hard-won experience and proven skills.
Kelly researchers suggest that employers look at re-directing AA initiatives at the young, with older colleagues perhaps acting as their AA-mentors!
The study also shows that older generations are the big believers in self-development and the need for lateral progression in their careers, gathering new experience as they go.
Younger colleagues have greater belief in the traditional, hierarchical concept of progress through promotion.
While the study shows that the South African workforce is generally satisfied and loyal to employers, indications are that the older the worker is the greater the satisfaction and loyalty level.
In general however, Kelly researchers have identified a workforce that is not driven simply by money; that is committed to their employers; prepared to make sacrifices for the sake of their work and wants to get the job done if only management will give them the opportunity.
“Our study shows that South Africa has a potentially highly productive workforce across all generations,” says Czakan. “The challenge is how best to unleash this latent people power. By utilising this exciting new business tools, we hope to help organisations do just that!”
* Kelly, the first and only staffing solutions organisation to receive ‘Investors in People’ accreditation in 2002, produced the ‘2003 Kelly Human Capital Satisfaction Survey’ as a key business tool for both commercial and industrial companies. It complements Kelly’s long-established Annual Salary Survey. Kelly researchers interviewed nearly 2000 employees from varying backgrounds and educational levels (including blue-collar workers) and nearly 250 employer representatives.

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