Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


SPREW — Result In Brief

Project ID: 28408
Funded under: FP6-CITIZENS
Country: Belgium

Generations at work

A study of different generations and genders at work, how they interact and what their needs are will help Europeans streamline their employment capabilities. It will help address challenges and produce a more efficient, happier workforce.
Generations at work
Our relationship to our jobs is key to determining our wellbeing and how our society evolves. Generational differences, gender differences and social differences all play a role in how we perceive our jobs and how we interact with others.

The EU-funded project 'Generational approach to the social patterns of relation to work' (SPREW) investigated relationships between different generations in the workplace. It also aimed to raise awareness of generation differences with respect to work, and formulate policies to address the needs of these different generations.

The project analysed available data on the topic and conducted over 160 interviews in 6 countries related to different age groups and genders. It surveyed employed, unemployed and self-employed individuals, documenting qualitative and quantitative results to develop 'good practices' regarding the topic.

SPREW then hosted several workshops across Europe to facilitate cross-national comparisons and factor in cultural as well as institutional variations. In this context, the project studied similarities and distinctions in welfare systems, labour market regulation, educational policies, employment policies and industrial relations. The aim was to learn how to effectively address separate or conflicting needs of different generations at work.

The project team found that variables such as gender, education, socio-professional groups, economic development and institutional contexts are more important than the 'generation' variable. It ascertained that age does play an important role, however, as the younger generation boasts a more expressive relationship to work. In addition, SPREW revealed differences in the quality of work for the three generations it studied.

Importantly, the project recommended that 'neo-corporatist' and Mediterranean countries must change some outdated processes in their institutions. Also, neo-corporatist countries must also upgrade their trade unions to include all kinds of employees, including youth and women, not only industrial workers. Furthermore, SPREW called for redistribution of social protection in several countries.

Understanding the expectations of different generations, the realities on the ground and the social policies in place will help design a better working environment for all segments. This will contribute to a more satisfied workforce and a more productive Europe.

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