Research conducted by the World Economic Forum, AARP and OECD found that 83% of global executives agree that multigenerational workforces are key to business growth and success, and 80% of organizations employ a multigenerational workforce. However, 53% do not include age in their diversity and inclusion policy and 58% do not provide training or support related to managing a multigenerational workforce. Furthermore, Deloitte’s 2021 Global Human Capital Trends reported that only 6% of survey respondents strongly agree that their leaders are equipped to effectively lead a multigenerational workforce.
The challenges of a multigenerational workforce, exacerbated by the changes COVID-19 forced on or brought about in the world of work as organizations transformed operational models, make it difficult for many organizations, employees, and job seekers to navigate and succeed in this new complex workforce demographic.
Introduced by Florence Rousseau, Senior Manager, Marketing & Communications, Magnet and moderated by Chantal Brine, CEO, EnPoint, the event featured panelists:
We encourage you to check out the organizations listed above and watch the recording of the session to form your own opinion on what stands out for you.
Here is our summary of key takeaways from the session:
1. What comes to mind when you think about ‘building future ready communities’?
More than 75% of Canada’s ocean economy is in Atlantic Canada. We need to be proactive in building a sustainable blue economy for the country because our talent stream needs to be engaged from a very early age. It’s about the stages of the heart and mind that people are in, and connecting both early and consistently to build legacy in the talent pipeline.
We need to be proactive not only because it’s the smart thing to do, but also because it’s important to stay ahead in a world where people are competing for talent and talent has more choice than ever. It is becoming a job seeker and employee market more and more, and companies need to understand who they are, what they have and what they can learn from their people.
Organizations need to ensure that we are being agile and ready to compete to remain successful. The demographic of our communities are changing, so it’s very important that we also change with that.
To create a welcoming environment that supports a multi-generational workforce, we have to pay attention and understand the needs of different demographics.
For example, some employers prefer a flexible work arrangement while others prefer the traditional 9:00 to 5:00 schedule. Older employees tend to like face to face interaction but those on the younger side prefer a quick text or chat message.
Most organizations are living with a multi-generational workforce right now, including panelists like Career Trek, with employees from baby boomers right through to Generation-Z, and participants as young as Grade Five, the Generation-Alphas.
Talent is a key resource within our organizations, so we need to meet people’s needs to be successful.
There can be friction as we learn what each generation needs, but we have to solve and adapt in the moment.
2. What is the most memorable “success story” or “lesson learned” you’ve experienced when you think about how your organization/group has contributed to ‘building future ready communities’?
Mentorship positively impacts career growth and development. Crown Mentorship has worked on changing the mindset that only mentees benefit from a mentorship relationship. They have seen success in shaping programs in a way where both mentees as well as mentors benefit and grow from a mentorship relationship, and in that growth are able to give back and add value to their own organizations and communities.
Crown Mentorship has also seen success in demything the traditional mentoring relationship where a senior person mentors a more junior person. This isn’t the only way to learn; changes in technology creates opportunities for Generation Y to be able to mentor our Generation X and our Baby Boomers.
A success story from Career Trek is the launch of their new strategic plan in the fall. The plan was built with everybody’s voice and buy-in right from the ground up- ensuring all generational voices were heard. Each planning session involved all full-time staff, board members, and part-time staff. As a result, collectively, Career Trek rewrote their vision and mission, defined their values, and articulated their strategic priorities and action plans.
COVE has been able to successfully respond to industry needs by having industry at the table and at workforce interventions. As an example of this, the COVE Internship Program allows students to gain experience in the thriving ocean technology sector with ongoing support, training, mentoring and networking opportunities organized by COVE, and enables employers to get support in building a talent pipeline. Launched three years ago, the program has grown from 8 interns in Summer 2020, to 20 in Summer 2021, and 35 this summer, and has seen growth nationally by expanding into St. John’s, Newfoundland, with anticipated growth into Ontario and British Columbia as well.
People can get stuck in a traditional mindset, refusing to change and/or accept that the workforce is changing; but if we listen and understand our demographic we will be able to adapt and ensure that we’re not losing employees because of our refusal to change.
Meet people where they are; talk to people, ask questions about what they need, and truly create a space to listen and hear what is being said. Employees want to be engaged and made a part of the conversation. They want to know where organizations are making space for them to play a role and share their voice.
As CEO or higher management, having an “open door” policy can help encourage employees to voice their needs and concerns, but on the flip side, you have to get out of your seat to where the conversations are happening. You can’t just wait for younger staff to come to you, you have to go and build those relationships.
3. In your view, what do you see as the primary role that each of us has to play in building future ready communities?
Remembering the importance of each perspective; remembering that each person, regardless of age or generation, brings something to the table that can be of value to the work that you’re doing. No one person or entity has all the answers, so recognizing that each person has lived experience and can that knowledge base that has gotten them to where they are today.
Taking the time to really listen and then being open and willing to always learn; it’s a life long learning process around everything that we do. When we’re working with a multi-generational workforce, we need to learn to work collectively to achieve our mission and visions, and an impact on our communities.
Workforce development around ages and stages; COVE, as an ocean tech and marine legacy industry in Canada, identified the importance of engaging across all ages and stages. Young people do not just end up in the ocean industry without first having conversations and exposure to it. As an industry, it’s all of our responsibility to ensure young people know their options and their opportunities in the sector.
COVE partners with the industry to host such experiences. For example, having high school students tour the COVE facility to explore ocean careers and better understand pathways to education that could lead to those careers.
ABEEL Foundation partners with high school students across Canada to introduce them to different industries and careers at an early age, and provides internship opportunities with their partner organizations.
Crown Mentorship equips Black professionals and learners to industry experts to gain a better understanding of different demographics. They provide a variety of services and programs that are multifaceted, e.g., mentorship in various different forms, such as one-to-one, group or virtual. Having flexible options helps meet the needs of different demographics and ensures that results are being driven.
Challenging biases around us; making sure that we’re checking our own biases as well challenging our managers and our hiring managers to ensure that we are creating opportunities for all candidates, even though it may not be the traditional candidate fit.
4. What is a quick-hit or practical tip for employers on how to create and engage a multi-generational workforce of their own?
Pick a team in your organization, and look at the demographic of that team. Is it reflective of our society? If it’s not, seek to understand why- what are the gaps that exist in your organization? What you may need to do to make room and implement change? Create a focus group that represents each group in society and then start asking questions to those individuals and have them speak to their own generation.
We all have a role in making space for different generations to be heard, and recognizing who has a voice and who doesn’t in the conversation.
Learn to talk less and listen more, and be curious and ask questions so that the voices of everyone can be heard.
COVE is looking to develop a youth advisory council for the entire Atlantic region, in recognition that sometimes the voices of more experienced persons tend to drown out younger generations. COVE aims to recruit a diverse group of young individuals to drive projects in the industry and to bring perspective on how we should build our stream of talent from an early age to mid-career.
Look at what your industry and competitors are doing, as well as what they are not doing to surface ideas and assumptions, and to identify opportunities for your organization.
Look for opportunities such as co-op placements or internships to bring in early career stage professionals and opinions. There is funding and support in place for work integrated learning, such as the Student Work Placement Program.
5. What would be your biggest piece of advice to talent in Canada trying to start and/or advance their careers and navigate the future of work?
Connect and network: You need to do more than just submit applications; put yourself out there and articulate who you are and what you are bringing to the table.
In certain industries international candidates have to start from scratch, which isn’t easy, but a lot of employers are starting to recognize international experiences as an untapped market. Tell your story effectively. Do not undervalue the lived experience and knowledge you bring to the table. Leverage your experiences and incorporate your qualifications and your story into your cover letter, as well as in your networking opportunities.
Take time for intentional self-reflection and become self-aware of what your strengths are, what your interests are, where do you want to work, what are your values and what are you looking for in an employer.
Employers are willing to teach technical knowledge; they are looking for candidates with “success skills” like collaboration, communication, problem solving, adaptability, and innovation. [For more on ‘success skills or foundational skills, check out our De-mything “soft skills” event recap.]
6. (Audience Question) How are organizations preparing to accept and retrain an influx of older persons in the workplace given that Canada has an aging population?
COVE is developing a Military Veterans Career Pivot program that will support vets in their mid-late forties reskill and pivot into the ocean sector. The pilot program is built into three phases (1) research and analysis through partnerships with the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC), ocean companies and the Canadian Armed Forces, (2) training and development, and (3) career development and employment readiness, including a four-month employment placement with a marine company.
There has been a trend of individuals tired of what they’re doing and are looking to make a pivot. Crown mentorship develops specific programs that will be used to help support career transitioning individuals.
Career Trek invites working, retired and/or transitioning professionals to speak to their participants through avenues such as their Success Story spotlight. These professionals share intimate knowledge such as what their career journey has been, what did they learn along the way, where did they succeed and fail.
Career Trek is also working with the older generation in their Industry Insights, which focuses on specific industries trending in Manitoba and brings perspective to participants about what the trends will be in the next five to ten years.
7. What are some resources, books, Ted Talks, or podcasts, that have been instrumental in shaping your view on the future of work?
A key theme that stood out in our panelist discussion was the importance of life-long learning and understanding your demographic. We sometimes forget that it’s not a “one size fits all”. Employees want to be engaged and we need to create a space where everyone can voice their perspectives and needs.
It is important to be proactive and adaptive, and think outside the box to identify ways that we can build and learn from a multigenerational workforce. We need to remember that everyone has a role to play and has lived experience that brings value to the table.
Guiding discussion questions:
What steps has your organization taken to create and engage a multi-generational workforce?
What benchmarks, success stories and/or resources discussed by the panelists can you adapt/apply to your organization and/or community?
Have you found a particularly helpful resource related to the theme of managing multi-generational workforces we can share?
Siju Ewhubare is a Human Resource Professional in the city of Calgary, Alberta. With over thirteen years of Human Resource experience and a passion for helping people succeed, she has professional designations as a Chartered Professional in Human Resources (CPHR), as well as a Senior Certified Professional with the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM-SCP). She also has a Bachelor of Management Degree with a Major in Human Resources and a Minor in Labour Relations.
She is currently a People and Culture Manager with EllisDon Corporation, is a co-founder of Crown Mentorship Foundation as well as a founding member of ABEEL Foundation. She is a strategic planner, consulting and coaching all levels of management on various aspects of human resources and people development. She is passionate about mentorship and career growth, having worked closely with executive management and business leaders, she is not afraid to challenge anyone to do and be better.
Crown Mentorship Foundation
Crown Mentorship Foundation’s goal is to provide formal mentorship programs connecting Black professionals to industry experts. These mentorship programs facilitate the learners’ development of strong industry-specific skills reinforced with real-world experience, making them better prepared to launch into the workforce with meaningful, relevant knowledge. Crown Mentorship Foundation’s partnership with organizations in various industries will promote the overall growth of Black professionals in their respective industries.
Currently working as the CEO of Career Trek, a Manitoba-based not-for-profit organization that provides career education programming to children and youth who face barriers to education and employment, Rhonda has spent the bulk of her career working in the not-for-profit sector in the areas of literacy, food security and now career development. In addition to her work in these areas, Rhonda also took on roles with the MITT (Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology) working to advance commitments made by the institution in the space of truth and reconciliation as well as managing MITT’s YouthBuild program. A program designed specifically for Indigenous youth between the ages of 18 and 35 who were working to complete their Grade 12 or get their Introduction to Construction Certificate.
Regardless of the work Rhonda is involved in it is guided by the desire and need to ensure there are higher degrees of equity, inclusion and belonging for people who are impacted by colonization, oppression and racism and she is committed to doing the work necessary to understand Canada’s true history in an effort to move along the path of reconciliation. When not doing these things you can find Rhonda on a hiking trail, in her kayak, on her porch with a book and a cup of tea or soon to be on the water on her newly purchased paddle board. Rhonda is a mom to a 15-year old daughter and 4 fur babies and has been married for 21 years.
Career Trek works collaboratively to remove barriers to education, employment, and life-long learning opportunities through hands-on career exploration, mentorship, and workshops. Career Trek is a registered charity that helps young people discover the importance of education and career development. Career-oriented programming, complete with hands-on activities, ignites participants’ passion for learning. Career Trek inspires young people to recognize their own potential.
Career Trek’s unique learning model guides Manitoba’s young people through increasingly more challenging education and career development learning. Participants thrive in a non-judgmental environment. They become engaged and invested in themselves and their communities. With Career Trek, the path to career success becomes clear and well-marked. Participants leave the program empowered by knowledge and experience. They can make important decisions about the future.
Education and career development drive Manitoba’s workforce and economy. Career Trek works with local communities across the province to identify training needs and career opportunities for young people. When Manitoba’s young people are inspired to pursue career and educational paths, Manitoba’s communities are strong and resilient.
Tanya Lush is a graduate of Acadia University (Psychology) and holds a Master of Education, Educational Psychology with a specialization in Occupational Psychology from Mount Saint Vincent University and a Graduate Diploma in Adult Education form the Nova Scotia Community College. Tanya has spent 15 years of her 25-year career living and working internationally. She returned home in 2019 and resumed her current position at COVE in March 2021.
As the Director of Workforce Development at COVE in Dartmouth NS(Centre for Ocean Venture and Entrepreneurship) the programming and projects she leads, delivers innovative and engaging talent development opportunities that span the entire scope of ocean career literacy, competencies/skill set acquisition and overall talent development for the ocean sector in Atlantic Canada with plans to scale COVE’s workforce programming nationally in 2022 and beyond. Her work focuses on building a continuum of talent pipeline for the Sustainable Blue Economy (SBE) that engages with all ages and stages of the career development cycle.
Centre for Ocean Ventures & Entrepreneurship (COVE)
COVE is where ideas become solutions, technologies become ventures and opportunities become careers. We connect people, ideas, resources and assets to propel solutions and sustainable growth for Canada’s ocean sector.
COVE provides strategic network-building opportunities, connections, and thought leadership amongst the global ocean tech community and runs programs to foster the development of the workforce, the acceleration of ocean tech product releases, and the success of new ventures by start-ups, scaleups and SMEs. These programs and COVE’s ability to nationally harness multi-disciplinary skills and capabilities within the marine ecosystem is an enabler in solving industry challenges, generating economic benefits, and providing value to investors.