Technically speaking, there are really six generations in the Workforce right now - each with unique characteristics and drivers that invariably add value to our organizations as a whole. Manufacturers interested in fostering engaged and motivated talent will need to create a culture that embraces differences particularly in an era of ongoing continual and exponential change. Moving forward, communication will be the key to ensure the transition of knowledge from one generation to another. Attracting, retaining and building on the experiences of current employees is essential for ongoing business longevity and competitiveness.
An engaged group of EMC Members and Guests recently met at MacLean's Ales in Hanover to learn about the current dichotomy of the workforce, sharing some of their challenges and exploring management possibilities through a special interactive presentation by Gemma Mendez-Smith, Executive Director of the Four County Labour Market Planning Board. It was - to be sure - a very enlightening day!
As mentioned above, there are currently six generations (yes six!) in the workforce when you consider those over 65 gainfully employed in full and part time positions today through to the younger population just entering the world of employment now. Needless to say, multiple generations with different needs, drivers, work-life balance perspectives and preferred methods of management and communication - certainly lends to the complexity and difficulty of managing our labour pools while sustaining company competiveness in today's dynamic global environment. Change, acceptance and open-mindedness will be paramount in our thinking, our staffing, in hiring practices, performance reviews, job descriptions, our processes and so on.
Bottom line, it's going to be an interesting sea that we are setting sail in today and navigating the waters before us may prove to be somewhat turbulent at times. As Business Captains, if you will, we need to prepare ourselves and our people through education and understanding to ensure the right communication buoys are in place so that skill sets, knowledge transfer and all things related to labour productivity enables our businesses to continue sailing efficiently and effectively on those seas of competitiveness, innovation and growth.
Veterans: Ages 65+
Baby Boomers: 45-65
Generation X: 30-45
Generation Y/Millennial: 30-20
Generation Z: 20-16
You can find many articles online speaking to the complexities of the multigenerational workforce and some of the challenges - and opportunities - for companies to consider. In a recent edition of the Grocery Business Magazine, Author Michael Marinangeli, emphatically states how imperative future workforce planning is to our businesses:
"The lifeblood of any organization is its people. Succession planning and talent development must be a top priority. This topic deserves as much industry attention as consolidation, declining margins, sales erosion, and square footage growth. And its impact could be much more far-reaching."
- "Harnessing the Brainpower of the Boomers", Michael Marinangeli, MIDEB Consulting Inc., Grocery Business, September October 2014, p.11
For the purposes of our discussion and that of our Guest Speaker, we looked at the three main generations most active in today's companies - Baby Boomers, Generation X and Generation Y. Deloitte published a really good chart in an article designed for the US Federal Government's use that outlines the general characteristics of each of these generations and I think it is a good precursor to our Speaker's presentation.
* Respectful of differences and well educated by traditional methods
* Digital immigrants who have learned to adapt to technology
* Work for them defines value
* Driven to overwork, live to work
* Need to assert their individuality, but view teams as effective
* Influenced by WWII post-economic boom
* Open minded and sensitive to diversity
* Educated by traditional methods supplemented by the internet
* Digital natives. Comfortable with the internet, prefer, and embrace the internet and technology to help control their lives
* Work to live, they will work with others in a team and also be comfortable working alone. Most effective, one task at a time
* Influenced by corporate and government failure, increased divorce and violence rates
* Are referred to as "digital natives" who are information fluent and connected 24/7
* Have the ability to multitask and engage in multiple activities simultaneously
* Expect speed and change and have a low tolerance for things that do not make sense. View face time and politics as a waste of time
* Value teamwork and collaborative efforts; are responsive to mutual guidance and mentorship
* Thrive on flexibility at work and require the opportunity to pursue new challenges
* Will stay when offered ongoing opportunities to grow and learn new things; loyalty must go both ways
Deloitte - "How to Effectively Manage a Multigenerational Workforce in the Federal Government: Four Generations Working Toward a Common Goal", p. 2.
Four County Workforce Planning Board - Gemma Mendez-Smith, Executive Director - www.planningboard.ca
EMC Members and Guests were pleased to welcome Gemma Mendez-Smith, Executive Director of the Four County Workforce Planning Board to share her thoughts as far as our topic at hand and to lend insight into current and future labour market needs within the Region and the Province as a whole.
Who are the different generations?
Baby Boomers - 1946-1964 - (Digital Immigrant)
Generation X - 1965-1980 - (Digital Adaptive)
Generation Y - 1981-2000 - (Digital Native)
Some of Gemma's thoughts together with general conversation and information shared have been captured below:
- We discussed the importance of understanding each individual group
- What really makes an employee happy?
- The significance of "change". Change is inevitable so we need to learn how to speak to "change" for each generation.
- How do we keep people healthier longer and engaged in our workforces? Wellness programs, stress reduction, etc.
- Change is more stressful for the older generation because they strive to adapt to it and then settle back in but with the advancement of technology, but change is ongoing.
- Communication challenges: due to the number of hours spent on IT and phones, are social skills suffering? Are there issues connecting to others on a person to person basis? Lack of that personal connection will only make the gap larger. The older generation uses more words, has a larger vocabulary. This will become an issue for the younger generations' especially in roles that involve sales or in interview settings.
"...effective communication skills are literally the lubricant that moves virtually all organizations forward"...
- "The Multigenerational Workforce Communication Conundrum", Lorri Freifeld, June 28, 2013
Characteristics of the Workforce:
- Differing characteristics: Baby Boomers traditionally conform and are task oriented. In contrast, Gen X is self-reliant and Gen Y optimistic and they automatically assume technology. Gen Y will force change on you but could also help you to grow your business.
Baby Boomers (45-65)
- technology doesn't work for them
- think for yourself and question everything
- largest group in the workforce
- combine high-tech and traditional
- want a competitive salary
- benefit tiers
- career advancement
- need to tap their knowledge
- Baby Boomer in general doesn't trust technology to the extent that Generation Y does to direct conversation - we are learning about technology similarly to learning ABC's. How do we allow flexibility and freedom in the work place to make good decisions? We have an age group that has learned through written instruction, print or email vs. the digitally tech savvy generations who learn through movies and podcasts.
- Baby Boomers don't equate learning with fun but the younger generations spend most of their time using technology. There is a thought process there that they do not need to know the answer because they can find it on the internet.
Gen X (30-45)
- want to learn new workplace skills
- always proving themselves
- more pressure than any in this group
- most educated
- multiple technologies
- competitive salary
- benefit tiers
- career advancement and learning opportunities
- mentor not micro-manage
Gen Y (Under 30)
- very team oriented
- value parents
- Three times the size of the Gen X generation
- multiple technologies
- good salaries and signing bonuses
- flexibility in salary/benefits options
- variety - highly interactive and creative
- social and personal safety
- value ideas
In the article that was referred to above by Deloitte, they suggested five guiding principles in managing a multigenerational workforce and those principles provide a good "moving forward" if you will premise in which to start embracing an open-minded and planned approach to mitigate challenges of managing multiple generations. Understanding differences will help lay a foundation that enables a company to gain engagement and hopefully assure the smooth transition of knowledge and skill sets that lend to a company's success.
- Embrace Flexibility
- Foster Collaboration
- Provide Technology
- Develop Talent
- Establish Methods of Evaluation
Deloitte - "How to Effectively Manage a Multigenerational Workforce in the Federal Government: Four Generations Working Toward a Common Goal", p. 3.
Four County Labour Market Planning Board, Gemma Mendez-Smith, Executive Director - www.planningboard.ca
"Managing Today's Multigenerational Workforce", Lee Hecht Harrison
"The Multigenerational Workforce Communication Conundrum", Lorri Freifeld, June 28, 2013
"Get Ready for Generation Z", Brandi Cowen, September 12, 2014
"Tackling the Challenges of the Multigenerational Workforce", Nicole Fallon, Business News Dairy Assistant Editor, June 16, 2014
"The Multi-Generational Workforce Challenge: A Research Summary by Next Step", Next Step, 2009
"How to Effectively Manage a Multigenerational Workforce in the Federal Government: Four Generations Working Toward a Common Goal", Deloitte
"Harnessing the Brainpower of the Boomers", Michael Marinangeli, MIDEB Consulting Inc., Grocery Business, September October 2014, p.11
Gemma also shared information regarding a new Canada-Ontario Job Grant for employers to train employees through the Ministry of Training. For more information, please click on the following link: http://www.tcu.gov.on.ca/eng/eopg/cojg/cojg_faq.html
MacLean's Ales - www.macleansales.ca
MacLean's Ales has just established a brand new plant located in the Hanover Industrial Park. Owner Charles MacLean has spent over 35 years in the brewery industry. They broke ground in November 2013 and were brewing their handcrafted ales by June 2014. EMC Members and Guests were treated to a wonderful tour of the facility and an overview of the equipment and capabilities. Take a peek at their website to see their building process and products!
Very special thanks to our Host, MacLean's Ales, and to Gemma Mendez-Smith from the Four County Labour Market Planning Board for joining us for this Special EMC Food Sector Event!!
All the best as always!
Bren de Leeuw, Director - EMC Food, Beverage, Bio & Ag Program Canada
Excellence In Manufacturing Consortium - firstname.lastname@example.org - 519-372-6009