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Best Workplaces for Today's Youth

 Best Workplaces for Today's Youth


The under-40 crowd is quickly becoming the dominant age group in the workforce. Comprising both the Millennial and Gen Z generations they have a different set of priorities than the Baby Boomers and Gen Xers who came before them. Being a great workplace for this age group is extremely important and despite them spanning two generations they have key things in common that unite them in what they are looking for their organizations.

Millennials came of age during the internet explosion and Gen Z has never known anything different. As such the youth in our workplaces are highly connected with each other and, through social media, the entire world. On-demand everything has shaped their expectations around communication, and they are highly attuned to what is happening minute by minute. As a result, they themselves demand workplaces that are highly responsive and attuned to them. Often maligned as the me-generation and ‘wanting it all for nothing’, the reality is these youthful workers understand their inherent value and want to work for organizations that understand the importance of acting respectfully, responsibly, and ethically in all their spheres of influence. This translates to a need for an organization that cares for their wellbeing, is socially responsible and has trustworthy leadership.

Today's Youth Want Employers That Care About Wellness

The Best Workplaces™ on our Youth list enjoy extremely high support for their commitment to caring about their employees and their wellness.

People care about each other here.


I am able to take time off from work when I think it's necessary.


Our facilities contribute to a good working environment.


Having an employer that cares about their wellbeing tops most lists of what Gen Z and Millennials want. This encompasses everything from work-life balance initiatives to health insurance and perks like gym memberships and meditation spaces. It demands a focus on overall wellness as a way of demonstrating the organization cares. The pandemic highlighted the need to take care of people’s general wellness and it has expanded our understanding of wellness to encompass a wide range of supports.

Mental wellness – stress levels were already an issue pre-pandemic and the aftermath has exacerbated this issue. Providing mental-wellness benefits is critically important to the Best Workplaces™. Programs to consider include:

  • An EAP that includes 24/7 access to qualified therapists and confidential helplines.
  • Wellness Apps that include both a fitness component and mental wellness.
  • Stress management specific support like guided meditation and training on general stress management tips and strategies.
  • Prevention techniques that include knowing the signs of mental fatigue and proactively surveying employees on mental health topics.

Physical wellness – always a critical component to leading healthy, productive lives, encouraging physical wellness continues to be an important element in the Best Workplaces™.

  • Encourage physical fitness through subsidized gym memberships, walking meetings, fitness related clubs, and fun, friendly competitions.
  • Provide healthy snacks and think beyond coffee and donuts for start of the day meetings.
  • Think about workspace ergonomics and provide a budget for employees who work from home.
  • Post pandemic considerations include physical distancing issues within the office and cleaning protocols.

Holistic Wellness – focusing on a wide range of wellness initiatives often separate good from great workplaces. Consider the following:

  • Financial wellness initiatives offer training on financial planning and provide benefits that contribute to long term financial stability like RESP contributions, tuition assistance, and student loan repayment.
  • Family wellness was brought to the forefront with Covid 19 with a focus on the quality of family life and the things that employers can do to help alleviate home-based stressors. Helping with childcare and including families in events and celebrations are examples of what Great Workplaces™ are offering.

Work-Life balance – no discussion of wellness would be complete without mentioning the importance of supporting a healthy balance between work and personal responsibilities.

  • Offer flexible work options including self-directed work, part time work, and job sharing.
  • Provide remote work to as many employees as possible – think creatively and allow people to work from where they want. The pandemic has proven how possible this really is.
  • Encourage people to make their personal lives a priority by examining your culture and values around hard work. What are leaders modeling? Is vacation time considered essential? Are people able to take time off as necessary to attend to personal appointments, children’s events, and family obligations?

Today's Youth Want Employers That Are Inclusive and Socially Responsible

Inclusivity is extremely important to young workers. And this expectation is reflected in the degree of support employees at the Best Workplaces™ for Today’s Youth give to statements related to inclusivity and the notion that people can be themselves in the workplace.

People here are treated fairly regardless of their age, race or ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation


I can be myself with my team.


I am treated as a full member here regardless of my position.


When the commitment to inclusivity stems from a core set of values that emphasize doing right by the people who work for you, it typically extends to working toward the good of the larger community as well. This notion of social responsibility in general is very appealing to youth workers and there are several ways you can infuse socially responsible behaviours into your organization.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) – young workers grew up in a very diverse world and they expect diversity within their organizations.

  • Establish DEI targets and actively work to promote and improve them. Publish your results, seek input on obstacles, and encourage everyone to be honest and open about their experiences with DEI initiatives.
  • Emphasize respect as a core value. This leads to improved communication, collaboration, opportunity, and success.
  • Provide genuine development opportunities and engage young workers in their career growth.
  • Assess your business practices for inclusivity. Are you attuned to the diverse needs of your customers? Is your supply chain diverse? Look at diversity from a wide-angle lens and ask your people what you could do better.

Broader Social Responsibility Efforts – the link between DEI and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is inextricable. Social responsibility, like inclusion, stems from valuing people and this spills over to valuing people in the larger community as well. And this value for people is at the heart of what young workers value and what they expect from their employers.

  • Environmental practices:
    • Track and reduce your organization’s contribution to climate change. Encourage carpooling, electric vehicles and bike or walk to work options.
    • Expand your recycling and reusability practices and incentivize this behavior within your organization.
    • Partner with sustainable-friendly suppliers and commit to doing business with organizations that embrace sustainable business practices.
  • Community practices:
    • Encourage employee volunteerism. Consider offering paid time off for volunteer efforts and participate in company-sponsored events.
    • Participate in philanthropy and include employees in deciding what causes to support. Young workers typically already support a variety of causes so make those part of your regular commitment.
    • Pay attention to diversity within your community practices and include minority-owned organizations and those that support underserved communities.

Today's Youth Want Leaders That Are Trustworthy

Trust is vital to good work relationships and the level of trust people have in their leaders is quintessentially important. Young workers in particular look for trustworthiness, which includes openness and transparency, in particularly high numbers. And support for trustworthy leader behaviour is well reflected within the Best Workplaces™ for Today’s Youth:

My manager is honest and ethical in its business practices.


My manager’s actions match their words.


I can ask my manager any reasonable question and get a straight answer.


Promoting trust and trustworthiness within your organization is just overall good practice regardless of an employee’s age, because when trust is present everything works better. People collaborate more, they are committed to higher quality work, and they feel heard. Here are some tips for promoting trust specific to young workers.

  • Provide regular feedback – young workers are very ‘real time’ focussed and they like receiving feedback constantly. Rethink your performance review process to include regular formal conversations as well as impromptu check-ins.
  • Practice authentic communication – ensure your message is consistent, open and transparent. Include data and facts and be prepared to back-up what you are saying. When leaders are transparent in tough moments, young employees know their leaders are deeply trustworthy, whether they get the answer they were hoping for or not.
  • Encourage questions – Millennials and Gen Z are used to questioning everything. They don’t take information at face-value because they see how facts can be distorted through social media and other alternative sources.
  • Encourage active involvement in decisions – involve young workers in decision making and problem solving. Be a facilitator who trusts their young workers to find the best way forward.
  • Show-up for them personally – young workers appreciate when their leaders take an interest in them. In moments of personal indecision, trustworthy leaders listen, respond with empathy, and provide support.
  • Show-up for them professionally – leaders who inspire trust also know that the young workers of today are tomorrow’s leaders. Encourage them in their career growth, foster great leadership skills within them, model trustworthy leadership behaviour and allow them to develop their full potential.

Young workers are vitally important to your overall business success and to your succession plans as older generations retire. Attending to their needs doesn’t require huge modifications or shifts in what you are already doing, what it does require is an enhanced emphasis on the value of people. When you put people first, young workers see those efforts and they respond positively. Show you care about them, and the community at large, you will have their support for the long term.

Is your organization ready to win a Best Workplaces™ award? Great Place to Work-Certification™ is the first step to being recognized as a people-first organization. Learn how you can earn the prestige of Certification and be named to one of our Best Workplaces lists today. 

Nancy Fonseca
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