Which companies would you be proud to work for? Market research firm Morning Consult recently asked over 220,000 Americans that question, and the results can tell us a lot about how different generations view the world of work.
First, there was substantial overlap between baby boomers (born 1946–64) and other generations. Amazon, Walt Disney, Apple, Google, and Microsoft appeared among the top ten employers for all three demographics (boomers, Gen X, and millennials). Boomers ranked Amazon #1, while both the other generations ranked it #3. Google nabbed the top ranking for millennials and Gen Xers, while for boomers it was #7.
Where boomers differed was the inclusion of heavy industrial manufacturers in the list. Harley-Davidson, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and John Deere all made our top ten, and Caterpillar followed closely at #11. None of these companies made the millennials’ top 10, and only Harley and Deere cracked the Gen X list.
Analyzing the results, Morning Consult turned to University of Puget Sound researcher Leon Grunberg, who said that boomers are “more tied to the past” when industrial products made by Boeing and Caterpillar were bulwarks of the economy. He also noted that these companies represented a “social welfare” model, in which bigger manufacturers would hire workers for life and provide them with a decent standard of living. “You’d give lifelong loyalty to a company and in return you got security for your life.” He added that that social contract has disintegrated since the 1980s.
Commenting on the results, Inc.’s Geoffrey James said that such surveys are “more a measure of brand familiarity and product attractiveness rather than an informed desire to work for a certain company.” Men who chose Harley-Davidson, for example, were probably thinking about an “employee discount on a cool set of wheels rather than the company’s decade-long series of layoffs.”
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