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Canadian firms must understand generational differences to drive competitiveness

By 2020, Millennials will represent the largest cohort of working Canadians.


OTTAWA — Organizations must understand generational differences in work styles and preferences to drive their competitive edge in what will become a more competitive labour market, according to new research from the Conference Board of Canada.

The report, Workplace Preferences of Millennials and Gen X: Attracting and Retaining the 2020 Workforce, reveals similarities as well as differences between these two generations of workers and offers suggestions on how organizations could improve their ability to attract and retain employees in both groups.

Gen X is only about two-thirds the size of the Boomer generation, and by 2020, Millennials will represent the largest cohort of working Canadians

Some highlights from the report include:

– Workplace cultures shaped by exiting Baby Boomers may not be satisfying the needs of either Millennials (born 1978-90) or Generation X (born 1965-77).

– Millennials are more confident of achieving their career goals than Gen Xers, but also expect faster promotions and switch jobs twice as often.

– Managers need to become more transparent about career paths and requirements, provide more opportunities for development, increase mobility through lateral moves and job rotations, recognize achievement and provide greater access to leaders.

– A survey of the two groups highlighted important differences. While both generations are ambitious and value work-life balance, Millennials were more optimistic that they will achieve their career goals, expected faster promotions and were twice as likely to switch jobs (with a new employer every two years compared with four years for Gen X).

The report draws information about the preferences of Millennials (born between 1978 and 1990) and Gen X (born 1965-77) from a national survey of 1,020 Millennials and Gen X employed full time, along with feedback from a roundtable of 15 leading organizations assembled to discuss preliminary findings and exchange good practices for attracting and retaining future talent.

Find the full report here.

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