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Best Companies Bridge The Generation Gap

The Globe and Mail recently reported that more than ever before, many of the companies on this year’s list of Best Employers in the GTA (greater Toronto area) are spending time and money in an effort to close the generation gap among employees.

The Globe and Mail recently reported that more than ever before, many of the companies on this year’s list of Best Employers in the GTA (greater Toronto area)  are spending time and money in an effort to close the generation gap among employees.

Indeed, as the battle for talent escalates, employers everywhere are realizing they can’t appeal to all employees in one fell swoop. I like to refer to it as the ‘buffet’ approach. Gen Ys want flexible workdays, Gen X wants childcare benefits, and the Baby Boomer is swayed by phased-in retirement options.

But cutomizing the workplace is easier said than done.

First, it means realizing the one-size-fits-all approach to employee satisfaction and success will not fly. Then, companies must survey employees in different demographic groups to ensure everything from benefits packages to daily work schedules are tailor made.

Whew! That’s a lot of work to make work work! But it’s worth it.

Peter McAdam, vice president of employee experience in corporate HR for TD Bank Financial Group, told the Globe and Mail that accounting for generational differences is directly linked to a company’s financial success.

“We’re a growth company and we need talent in order to grow,” he said. “We want to be the place where the best people want to come to and we know there’s a cost to not doing that.”

For several years I’ve been preaching on the risks associated with ignoring demographic shifts, and  I’ve had the conversation with countless naysayers who insisted that generational differences were over-inflated and that everyone just needed to show up and get the work done.

It’s time to come to grips with reality. Generational differences do exist and do impact the bottom line. If you do not have engaged employees, you have higher turnover which costs money and results in lower engagement and increased risk.

Here’s what a few of the award-winning workplaces in Toronto are doing to bridge the gap:

  1. PwC is trying to close the generation gap by partnering less experienced workers with senior staff on larger projects. Gen Y workers, who tend to learn best while doing, shadow senior staff and get the chance to brainstorm over major accounts. The consultancy, as well as other companies that made the list, also offer flexible benefits packages that cater to different age groups, family care programs that include caring for ill parents as well as young children and phased-in retirement.

  2. TD Bank Financial Group executed an “agile workplace strategy” that allows employees who don’t deal directly with clients on a regular basis to work remotely. They work remotely most of the time and come into the new offsite workspace when they need to collaborate with colleagues or attend meetings. The pilot project includes employees from three groups within the bank – wealth management, corporate real estate and corporate HR.

  3. Loblaw Companies Ltd., a retail chain, is using IT to address generational differences. It recently began offering an e-learning course to help employees understand the different demographic groups, believing the insights would help improve communication across generational lines.

This quote in the Globe and Mail from Hazel Claxton, a partner and human capital leader at PwC in Canada, pretty much sums it up:

“We’ve been talking for a long time about the war for talent but that war is going to become increasingly more fierce. You need to attract and retain people and ensure their success because that leads directly to your firm experiencing success.”


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