Taking the lead with your multigenerational workplace…Alberta’s Best Workplaces
Categorizing, generalizing and stereotyping are the most common reactions to working within a diverse, multigenerational environment. In many organizations, there is rarely a day that goes by without co-workers and managers hearing a disparaging comment about the values and attitudes of different generations, despite the fact that companies are investing heavily in educating leaders and teams at every level to develop collaborative relationships. The enlightened ones recognize that their future depends on creating an atmosphere where everyone, regardless of age or background, feels motivated to stay, contribute and enjoy their workplace.
As part of my preparation for my keynote presentation at the 5th annual “Best Places To Work in Alberta” event, held by my client, Alberta Venture, I interviewed several companies that are doing things right when it comes to leading the generations. Many companies throughout the province participated in a rigorous application process to be judged in twelve different categories of excellence including: “Best workplace for health & safety”, “best workplace for diversity”, “best workplace for training and development”, “best workplace for perks and incentives”, best workplace for benefits”, “best workplace for working parents”, “best workplace for the millennial generation” and best workplace for volunteerism & community involvement”, just to name a few!
The common denominator in terms of the success of these companies can be summed up in one word: Flexibility. For example, these leaders understand that they cannot adopt a cookie-cutter approach to benefits and recognition programs. They have embraced a retention philosophy that minimizes turnover by offering individual employees personalized remuneration and health benefits packages. When it comes to adopting personalized incentive programs, whether they take the form of tangible benefits or work-from-home arrangements, one finalist described their leadership approach this way: “No is not our first answer”.
One VP in the financial service sector explained that employees can choose how to allocate some of their benefits by taking out gym memberships, purchasing sporting equipment, or claiming a significant portion of their benefits for massage or chiropractic services, while maintaining basic coverage for dental and prescription medication. This applies to more than 1,000 staff. The payoff? Higher levels of engagement, customer service and job satisfaction.
Their benefits also extend to their own products. For example, all employees receive a deposit bonus into their savings accounts at 1.5% above posted rates. Spouses receive the same benefits even if they aren’t working for the company. In addition, staff can secure mortgages at a preferred rate; realizing significant savings over the long term. Financial benefits also apply to retirement savings, matching RRSP contributions as well as a formal dinner upon retirement with $1,000 cash recognition for service to the organization.
Another leader of a large engineering software company stated that flexible work schedules have resulted in increased productivity because employees know that they are trusted. Their firm takes work-life balance seriously and recognizes the priorities associated with family responsibilities. Their culture and solid client relationships are a reflection of putting these values into action. This year their company is vying for the best workplace in the “working parents” category. With over 60% of employees under the age of 40, they know that their business model can allow for staff to work from home, telecommute or take extended leave of absence during the quieter, summer months. Most importantly, the founders of the business believe in putting values into action. Therefore, all employees appreciate the fact that a company that accommodates personal demands outside of the workplace rewards their professional attitude and hard work.
In the category of “best workplace for the millennial generation”, competition was fierce. These companies recognize that ongoing labour shortages as a result of on-going baby boomer retirements means that they need to keep their pipeline filled with younger employees and future leaders.
Encouraging innovation and educational learning experiences is an integral part of the philosophy of the award contenders in this category. They are consistently ahead of the game when it comes to maintaining a presence at recruitment fairs; building relationships with pre and post secondary educational institutions, encouraging the use of social media in the workplace (as well as for recruitment purposes) rewarding employees with a finder’s fee regarding peer hiring, frequent off-site brainstorming retreats to build teamwork and foster creativity, “bring your parents to work days”…the list is endless.
To effectively take the lead with your multigenerational workplace, the finalists are succeeding primarily due to the fact that their leadership; from the owners to the executive level, are supportive of every initiative. They realize that in order to maintain talent and build their future leaders, creating and sustaining the type of workplace atmosphere where people can simultaneously excel, learn and have fun means walking the talk. There is no doubt that the new generation of employees will consistently seek out workplaces of choice. When your organization stands out from the crowd with a “best place to work” designation, it makes the entire recruitment, engagement and retention that much easier.