I’ve written on the topic of the effects of the various generations in the workforce before, but never with a specific focus on the Millennials, also known as Generation Y. This cohort was born between 1980 and 2000 and in today’s terms, their ages range from 15-35. By 2020, nearly 50 percent of all workers will come from this generational cohort.
As the Baby Boomers (1946-1964) retire, the Millennials will take front seat as the dominant workforce player representing the 25-45 year segment of workers who are increasingly stepping into leadership roles.
What we know from research about the Millennials is based on research and cautious generalizations. They are optimistic, achievement-oriented, and comfortable multi-tasking. They grew up with technology and haven’t lived in a world without the Internet. They tend to be comfortable with social media and are hungry to learn and develop their acute sense for social responsibility.
Millennials may be considered the most well educated of the generational cohorts, but with that knowledge comes the burden of post-education debt loans in the $20,000 plus mark. They seek employability, flexibility, and purpose-driven work with socially conscious employers. They also want help from their employer to find ways to manage their debt.
They are comfortable working in teams and the influence of staying connected supports their need to work within a community or network framework. They don’t look for linear progression or hierarchical structure the way the generations before them did, and while pay is important, it is paired with the need for a more balanced focus on work that matters to them, teams that allow them to thrive, and a workplace culture with high engagement levels.
With the war for talent starting to heat up, employers will be looking for ways to attract and retain Millennials. With an eye on the input, throughput and output of workers, employers will be well-served to ensure that retiring Baby Boomers do a good job in transferring knowledge to the up and coming Millennials and share what they know about the path they can carve for themselves based on the role they have today.
Millennials don’t carry the same loyalty to employers and are more willing to make several career moves to suit their needs. This behaviour isn’t as favourable for employers who don’t gain from higher turnover and retention loss. Employers benefit from communicating through social networking channels that Millennials use in their personal life. Messages that establish and reinforce the company’s culture, social responsibility, and development opportunities will be instrumental in retaining Millennials.
Employers can also look to create mentorship arrangements and communities of practice that facilitate knowledge transfer.
These and more suggestions are areas my team and I would be pleased to explore in greater detail with you. Keeping a pulse on the demographic shifts in the workforce not only from a benefits perspective, but from an employee engagement and retention focus is key. We’re here to help so that you can focus on what you do best.
This month marks the fifth anniversary of Financial Literacy Month in Canada. It is an important time to take stock of all the helpful tools and links that are available to Canadian workers and employers. Remember the familiar saying, “Knowledge is power”? This is especially true when it comes to financial matters. Yet so many Canadians continue to avoid making their financial affairs a top priority.
According to ABC Life Literacy Canada, 38 percent of Canadians say they aren’t putting any money away on a monthly basis for long-term savings and the same percentage of respondents said their household doesn’t follow a budget. Of those who had a budget, only 12 percent stayed within the budget. In addition, nearly 50 percent of Canadians struggle with simple tasks involving math and numbers. With these results in mind, I invite you to complete the self-assessment quiz to test your financial literacy skills and find out how they compare to other Canadians. This 30 question test should take no more than 8 minutes to complete and will test your knowledge about keeping track, making ends meet, planning ahead, staying informed, and choosing products.
Take the test now.
I’ve also included a list of free resources you may wish to explore in greater detail or make available to employees.
Financial Consumer Agency of Canada
Strengthening financial literacy in Canada
Preparing your will
Planning your retirement
10 Important financial lessons every person should know
It is always a good time to talk about financial literacy with just-in-time prompts for employees. Increasingly, wellness programs and employee assistance programs include programs and support related to debt management, budgeting and financial preparedness. Reminding employees of the free resources that are available to them through their employer and other reliable providers is a meaningful way to reinforce the message that the more they are aware of their financial situation and needs, the more they will be in the financial driver seat -- knowledge is power.
Aside from the resources I’ve mentioned, I also encourage you to reach out to us for additional support. We are focused on helping employers and their employees develop more robust financial literacy toolkits. We’re always here to help so you can focus on what you do best.
Bullying in the workplace can take many forms and cause workers to react in uncharacteristic ways especially if they are fearful of being victimized, embarrassed or harassed. Bullying has been defined as repeated, persistent, continuous behaviour as opposed to a single negative act. It is often associated with a power imbalance between the victim and the perpetrator.
Worker-to-worker workplace bullying has increasingly been the focus of research in order to better understand the dynamics at play and to explore additional strategies to create healthy and safe work environments
Recent news about the Volkswagen scandal saw finger-pointing within the executive ranks along with the resignation of the Company’s CEO. Volkswagen is alleged to have been caught cheating on American air pollution tests. Their software called “defeat devices” in the electronic control module of diesel vehicles issued between 2008 - 2015 only emitted 10 to 40 times the legal amount while on the road. These emission levels were incorrectly reported as the engines emitted nitrogen oxide pollutants up to 40 times above what is allowed in the US.
What does all this have to do with workplace wellness and bullying? Imagine what it must be like to work inside the ranks of Volkswagen before and now after this “diesel dupe”. In all likelihood, there were employees who knew something wasn’t adding up, but were too concerned about what do and who to tell.
Specifically in manufacturing companies, employee orientation includes mandatory employees WHMIS and Health & Safety training that addresses workplace violence, harassment, and bullying prevention. Yet a recent cross border survey of 2000 respondents by Mental Health America (MHA) and the Canadian Association for Mental Health (CAMH) reveals that corporate offices in Canada and the US experience widespread workplace bullying. Specifically, 67 percent of respondents reported that they feel their company might fire them at any time and that 83 percent report that their company is overly focused on trivial activities. More importantly, the report showed that 80 percent of respondents believe their workplace is unhelpful or hostile, and as a result, they tend to work alone.
Employees fear being retaliated against for whistle-blowing. They often stay quiet and try to survive the negative effects of an unhealthy workplace. Prevention of workplace bullying requires a different step of management mechanisms including eduction and training as well as regular assessment and review of employee performance and feedback. Bullying is often linked to poor or absent management styles.
Employers are encouraged to watch for signs and symptoms of bullying — not only for the mental and physical health of the worker, but for the overall health and reputation of the company. The cost that Volkswagen will pay for not doing so will be in the billions. Whether they can survive this maelstrom, only time will tell.
Such dramatic events can and should be avoided. Bullying tends to be seen as more obvious in terms of verbal comments and negative physical contact, but it also includes more covert actions such as: the silent treatment, rumours, personal attack on attributes or one’s private life, unjustified criticism, over-monitoring of work, verbal aggression and withholding information.
When employees seem anxious, choose to work alone, avoid colleagues and report higher rates of absenteeism, there is likely something more that the employer may wish to explore. Workplace bullying could be a factor. There are various resources and reference guides available including:
OSH Answers Fact Sheet:
Huffington Post: Tips for potential victims
Forbes: How to stop workplace bullies in their tracks
Please feel free to contact us for more information, resources and tips. We’re here to help so that you can focus on what you do best.
Dave Dickinson, B.Comm, CFP, CLU, CHFC
Experienced Benefits Specialist ready to optimize your group benefits and pension plans.