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X, Y and Boomers come together to discuss generational issues in the workplace

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“How do we help the Boomers to actually let go of some of the legacies of some of the work that they’ve been doing in the workplace and feel good about letting that go and actually creating some space for new people and the younger generation’s voices to be heard?” Hay asked. “How do we help the Boomers to find a role in large organizations where they still feel respected and feel they have some wisdom to offer?”

Computer graphic by Yolanda Liman, which showcases the topics discussed during the conference's panel discussions.

And because younger adults are unemployed or underemployed, 51 per cent of people between 20 to 29 still live with their parents, versus 28 per cent when Boomers were in that age group, said Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Researcher Iglika Ivanova.  

“Despite the fact we are recovering from a recession, the world has never been richer, and yet, we somehow cannot see how we can leave the next generation the world better than the one we inherited,” said Ivanova.

One solution to this problem, suggested by Generation Squeeze Senior Researcher Lynell Anderson is to create more public policies. Social programs that have benefited the older generations back in the day are now much needed by the younger generation of today, so why are these programs not being introduced?

“Individual actions on their own will not reduce the squeeze for entire generations,” said Anderson. “We also need to work together across generations, across society, to reduce the squeeze. We need to bring in new public policies. We’ve brought them in before and we can do it again.”

Moderator Linda Young and panelists Carol Chiang, Val Litwin, James Palmer and Jane Terepocki.

The second panel session focused on the workplace, where panelist James Palmer, vice president of sales and marketing for Great Little Box Company, expressed his doubts that differences in the workplace are all down to the different generations.

“There aren’t as many difference as we think there are. There are differences with people who enter the workforce, versus people who have established careers versus people who are heading towards retirement. But I don’t think that has to do with generation. That has to do with what they have in their lives and what they’re looking for.”  

Terepocki, who favours passionate candidates in the hiring process, added that no matter what generation they’re from, a worker with valued soft skills and passion cannot go wrong. “Someone with passion will overcome boundaries in their way, they will find a way to work with their team because they have that attitude.”

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