Canadian workplaces today employ as many as four generations of workers, and nearly half of employees in multi-generation environments admit to having clashed with older or younger colleagues, a poll indicates.
“For the first time in Canadian history, there are four generations of people in the workforce at the same time,” says Gabriel Bouchard, vice-president and general manager of online employment site Monster Canada.
“These different generations have grown up experiencing significantly different events that have shaped their values and beliefs. As diverse generations cross paths on the job, we sometimes see a clash of attitudes, ethics, values and behaviours.”
Of the 1,263 Canadians who participated in the recent poll at Monster.ca, four out of 10 said a multi-generational workplace “adds some challenges to the job.”
On the other hand, 22 per cent said a mix of ages provides a learning opportunity, and 27 per cent said people at their workplace do not notice others’ ages.
In a separate poll of 2,182 people, half said younger Canadians — so-called generations X and Y — have the most trouble working with baby boomers, rather than with each other or with people older than the boomers.
The survey makes a demographic split between people born before 1945, boomers born between 1946 and 1964, generation X between 1965 and 1980 and generation Y between 1981 and 1999.
“The chronic labour shortage and the phasing out of mandatory retirement in much of the country has many aging boomers working well into their golden years alongside recent college and university graduates,” says Bouchard, adding that employers need a “generational strategy.”
“This strategy involves understanding what makes their employees tick; emphasizing the importance of teamwork; effective communications; and adopting ‘ageless thinking’ where every employee is equal, regardless of age.”