Ask an Accountant: A changing workforce

Francesca Giroux, CPA
For the Lakeside Leader

Recent studies have predicted that the Millennial generation (or Generation Y) made up 36 per cent of the workforce in 2014, replacing many Baby Boomers who have moved on into retirement. So what does this mean for employers? Does it matter that the workforce demographic is changing? Surprisingly, the answer is yes. The Millennial generation (those born between 1982 and 2000) brings with it to the workforce several differences from the previous generations. While not all Millennials can be painted with the same brush it may be useful in your business to be aware of the not so subtle shifts in this generation’s tendencies and attitudes towards their work environment and their employers.

Millennials are interested in a career with a side of adventure! They are looking not only to put in the 8 to 5 grind but to see Paris on the side. This generation is more interested in flexible vacation policies so they can backpack around Europe, and some are even willing to sacrifice a higher pay grade for more time away from the office. The work/life balance that so many of us seek is becoming one of the most valued characteristics of a work environment among Millennials. Past generations believed that if they put in their time they will reap their rewards eventually, the Millennial generation is more inclined to work to achieve a balance now than wait for rewards in the future.

While it seems everyone today is inseparable from their smart phones, Generation Y is still the most multi-tasking generation, switching their attention between media outlets an average of 27 times per hour (compared to the 17 times per hour of previous generations). This generation can get bored easily, which can be a daily battle for employers looking to engage the young workforce. Suggestions to combat this include providing your younger employees with multiple projects at a time to tackle, and providing meaningful work as studies also show that Millennial’s aren’t just looking for a job they are looking for a passion, they want to make a difference in their industry, community, etc.

As children Gen Yer’s were taught that their opinions mattered and are used to expressing themselves and being heard. Consequently, many crave continuous feedback regarding their work performance. Moving forward it is important to develop a culture in your business to attract and retain the young emerging workforce, and to help those in leadership positions (who are often of a different generation than those they supervise) better understand their younger counterparts.

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Information provided is of a general nature. As each individual or company’s situation is unique, you may wish to consult with your CGA for information specific to your own needs.

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