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Manage Workers Individually

February 9 2007 - A recent study from The Canadian Council of Human Resources Associations (CCHRA) argues against categorizing employees by age stereotypes while acknowledging the need for different HR approaches to managing Boomers and Gen Xers in some areas. Managing Across the Generations in Canadian Organizations, by Professor Carol A. Beatty of Queen's School of Business, concludes that individual differences are more important than generational factors. It suggests that managers need to develop understanding of the individual characteristics of their employees.

The study was conducted at CCHRA's 2006 National Human Resources Forum. Senior HR professionals and association leaders together with government officials were asked to consider the values of Boomers and Gen Xers in the workplace and predict the impact of differences on key areas of HR professional competencies such as engagement, values, staffing, compensation, skills, training and development and employee relations.

Suggestions included:

  • Skills - "Organizations should take a macro view of employee skills and emphasize creating strategic business acumen, task orientation and decision-making expertise. One of the best ways to do this would be to blend teams of Gen Xers and Boomers".
  • Compensation - "For both Boomers and Gen Xers, employers should be more flexible in the design of total compensation/rewards programs. They must provide more choices on how compensation dollars are spent in order to accommodate different needs at different stages of their life cycle. Segmentation in provision of total rewards can be a way of retaining key skills and becoming an employer of choice".
  • Training - "Both generations appreciate being full partners in their training plans, both need flexible, relevant and individualized plans, and opportunities to apply their learning".
  • Engagement - "Employee engagement is essentially a product of the organization's leadership. Leaders should focus more on knowing their individual employees rather than on grouping them by age cohorts".

Diane Wiesenthal, CHRP, president of CCHRA said:

"To stay competitive in today's global economy, Canadian business must consistently examine its human resource management practices. Managing Across the

Generations in Canadian Organizations encourages just that - a dialogue within organizations on the needs of their workforce, and whether current policies are meaningful on an individual level. Implementing management practices around this new perspective may be challenging, but if done successfully, it may also enhance the structure and success of Canadian workplaces and organizations well into the future."

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