Jeffrey Saltzman's Blog

Enhancing Organizational Performance

Youthful Optimism, Myth or Reality?

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The legend of the fountain of youth or variations upon that theme occurs in many cultures going back centuries. It is said to yield magical water that can restore and maintain your youthful self. Ah….to be young again. But maybe it is not all that it is cracked up to be or maybe it is? One aspect often associated with youthfulness is a sense of optimism about the future, an inherent sense of immortality and that nothing can strand in your way. No mountain is too high, no river too wide… no wait that was Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrel in 1966. Anyway, is there any evidence to support the notion that youthfulness brings with it a sense of optimism about the future?

In measuring Employee Confidence in the workplace, I contrasted younger (18-29 year olds) vs. older (50+ year old) workers on the levels of Employee Confidence they have in the workplace.   A few observations.

  • The 12 largest economies were studied (USA, UK, Canada, China, India, Russia, Germany, France, Italy, Brazil, Japan, Spain), and Employee Confidence among the younger crowd was relatively stronger as of March 2009, with the exception of Japan where the youths were a few points lower on Employee Confidence than the older folks. In most countries the benefit of youthfulness is between 5 and 15 percentage points. So in general, yes, there is youthful optimism or at least higher levels of youthful Employee Confidence. There are a few other interesting patterns that emerge.    
  • In both Spain and particularly in China in June of 2008 the older folks were expressing higher levels of Employee Confidence than the younger and by March of 2009 both of those positions are reversed with the youths now being more confident.
  • As of March 2009, the largest gap between the younger workers and the older ones, with the youths being more positive, is found in Russia followed by Italy and the UK.
  • As of March 2009, the smallest gaps between the younger and older workers was in Brazil followed by Japan.

A high level of Employee Confidence is achieved when an employee perceives their organization as being effectively managed with good business processes, competitively positioned with attractive products and believe they have a promising future with their organization, job security and if needed skills that would be attractive to other employers. Employee Confidence influences individual behavior and has implications for organizational performance and more broadly macro-economic conditions.

Should you desire more information about Employee Confidence please feel free to contact me at

© 2010 by Jeffrey M. Saltzman. All rights reserved.

Written by Jeffrey M. Saltzman

December 20, 2009 at 8:19 pm

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