As Canadians are living and working longer, employers are faced with the challenge of managing five generations in the workplace. The five generations, Generation Z (under 18 years old), Generation Y/Millennials (18 to 33 years old), Generation X (34 to 50 years old), Baby Boomers (51 to 70 years old), and the Greatest Generation (over 70 years old) share similarities in workplace preferences; there are also marked differences.
According to the Staples Business Advantage 2016 Workplace Index, Baby Boomers (41 per cent) are more motivated by having a sense of purpose than their younger counterparts, Generation X (27 per cent) and Millennials (23 per cent). Burnout is prevalent among Millennials, Gen X, and Boomers—41 per cent of Millennials, 39 per cent of Gen X, and 29 per cent of Boomers say burnout motivates them to look for a new job. To avoid burnout, Boomers and Gen X would like employers to lower their workloads and provide more time to complete tasks; Millennials would prefer more flexible schedules.
Boomers are motivated by having a sense of purpose, followed by salary. However, Gen X and Millennials rank salary as their top motivator. Gen X ranked a sense of purpose second, while Millennials listed passion as their second motivator. Working from home is also crucial for Millennials, whereas Gen X and Boomers prefer a traditional workplace.
Forty-nine per cent of Millennials, 48 per cent of Gen X, and 37 per cent of Boomers want employers to pay more attention to office design. Natural light is important, and Boomers and Gen X are interested in private spaces and ergonomic furniture, while Millennials would like standing desks and lounge areas.
Seventy-four per cent of Millennials, 64 per cent of Gen X, and 51 per cent of Boomers say a wellness program, including fresh foods, is a selling point. Gen X and Millennials also look for fitness tracking wearable devices and onsite gyms.
Many Millennials (49 per cent) and Gen X (50 per cent) feel they have too much work to get up from their desks. Only 41 per cent of Boomers feel similarly. Employers can help encourage workers to take breaks and recharge by providing comfortable breakrooms with snacks and drinks.