By Sheryl Smolkin
Read this article and comments at Moneyville.ca
When I first heard a presentation almost ten years ago about how different generations of employees in the workforce have different wants and needs, it really resonated with me.
After all, it made perfect sense that empty nester Boomers (age 46-64) shaped by Vietnam and Woodstock and obsessed with retirement planning inhabit a different universe than Gen Xers (age 31-45) defined by Columbine and 9/11 who are in the early stages of their career with young families. And multi-tasking, tech savvy, socially conscious Gen Y (18-30) are a breed unto themselves.
But the more I thought about it, the more I came to believe that the regardless of our age and stage of life, we all want the same things: a well-paid job with good benefits, career advancement and a reasonable balance between work and family.
What brought these thoughts to mind again recently, was the release of the 2011 list of Canada’s Top Employers for Young People. This competition is organized by the editors of Canada’s Top 100 Employers and companies seeking recognition are evaluated based on the programs they have to attract and retain younger workers.
These programs range from a health benefit plan, tuition subsidies and formal leadership training to a better than average vacation policy, flexible work hours and on site fitness facilities.
The opportunity to learn and grow on the job may be one factor that will catch the attention of younger workers, but it is equally appealing to older employees. In 1990s when we were over 45, both my husband and I studied part-time for Masters degrees (his in software engineering, mine in international employment law) with the approval and financial support of our employers.
We also took full advantage of generous paid time off and flexible work hours both when our children were young and as members of the sandwich generation caring for aging family members.
In fact, top drawer organizations typically recognize the importance of a healthy workplace with robust benefit programs available to employees of all ages. That’s why Bayer, Enbridge, Loblaws, RIM, the TD Bank Financial Group and Telus Corporation (to mention only a few) appear on both the top employers for young people list and on the list of Canada’s Top 100 Employers.
But with unemployment running around seven percent and youth unemployment almost double, there is no doubt that many highly educated Gen Xers are not in a position to be too choosy. In fact, they would gladly accept any job that will pay the rent and give them a leg up on the career ladder.
Canada’s 2011 Top Employers for Young People certainly deserve recognition for offering internships, summer jobs, co-op programs and other forms of mentorship. As a result, many talented young people can begin striving for similar goals both at home and at work as generations of workers who came before them.