By Theodora MacLeod - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on February 8, 2024.
With the rapid advancement of technology and the introduction of Generation Z into the workforce the workplace is evolving.
Gathering to delve deeper into the some of the challenges and triumphs of multi-generational, or generationally diverse workplaces, the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce welcomed Natalie Amyotte, Director of Human Resources and Privacy with Lethbridge Family Services, Deidre McKenna, partner at Davidson & Williams LLP, and Chris Broughton principal consultant at CPHR/UpSourced HR. Speaking to local human resources professionals at the Sandman Hotel on Tuesday.
The information session marked the return of the chamber’s State of the Industry series of talks.
According to Amyotte, the workforce is more diverse than ever. With four generations currently of working age, along with people of diverse backgrounds settling in Lethbridge, she highlights the importance of recognizing intersectionality when approaching staff.
She notes other components shaping the workplace and the lives of employees are rising costs of living and inflation which force workers to put a higher emphasis on the economic factors when considering their employment status whether to remain in a position.
Amyotte and McKenna also note that many outcomes of COVID-era policy changes are now coming to light.
Discussing the multi-generational workplace, all three panelists explored how the needs and expectations of employees may differ depending on their age and generation.
“The research suggests that each generation has a different way of communicating, different expectations about work, views about compensation, benefits, advancement, working styles. So, it can become challenging if you are a human resource manager or just a manager more generally,” says McKenna. She says that while older generations may wait to be recognized, the younger generation is more likely to believe that the better approach is to go out at get what they want.
Noting other key elements associated with the generations, Broughton highlighted that those in the Baby Boomer age range tend to value stability and face-to-face interaction, Generation X looks for direct and clear communication along with opportunities for balance and professional growth, Millennials seek purpose and advancement while focusing on company culture, and Generation Z emphasize technological integration and innovation.
McKenna says that it is important to acknowledge that when someone grew up shapes them, however the stage of life is also hugely impactful and does not always align with age or generation.
While recognizing generational diversity can help to navigate the workplace, it is best they are used as a guide and not a stereotype when implementing policies and procedures.
Focusing on the legal aspects of multi-generational workplaces, McKenna says managers must ensure there are strong policies and procedures in place for accommodations.
She explains “Accommodation is the legal duty that all employers have under the human rights act to be able to provide accommodation for things like age, family status, gender physical and mental disability.” Advising that all policies and procedures be written and accessible to employees, McKenna says that also includes accommodation policies and says it’s important to also recognize how policies can be discriminatory.
In the end though, despite generations, McKenna says people really aren’t so different. “It’s important to understand, I think as a manager of staff that the needs of employees have not changed, they’re universal, which is employees want respect, and they want connection. What’s different are the norms through which each generation tends to try to meet those needs.”