Then & Now: Longevity has its advantages

Long-time employees stick around with the same employer because it offers the chance to live in the Okanagan and enjoy the lifestyle.

Long-time employees is a characteristic common in many Central Okanagan businesses.

People stick around with the same employer because it offers the chance to live in the Okanagan and enjoy the lifestyle, and in a small business based world they have more input on decisions affecting them.

But that may be changing with today’s generation, raising challenges for business supervisors and human resource managers, says the dean of the Okanagan School of Business at Okanagan College.

“The younger people in the workforce today have higher expectations about flexible work hours, about finding a work/lifestyle balance,” says Dr. Heather Banham.

“The workaholics of the past, from the baby boomer generation, are not as relevant today. People today are not only interested in working at a company for the job, but also how that firm or organization can enable them to make a difference in their own community.

“It’s a different mindset, and raises challenges on finding innovative ways to manage people. It’s not to say one way or another is better or worse, just different.”

Banham takes a lot of positives out of a recent survey of 2011 business school grads from OC, revealing that 93 per cent have founds jobs in their home community and 82 per cent of those jobs were related to what they studied in the program.

While that speaks highly of the business school, Banham added it also reflects how the small business community will continue to evolve to provide jobs and allow people to venture out to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities.

“I am very optimistic about the future for the Okanagan because our communities will continue to grow. There will be challenges along the way, as there always have been,” Banham says.

“Consumer demand and technology will always bring about change.”

Banham says the lifestyle of the Okanagan, sometimes referred to by some as a ‘career killer’ because people choose to stay here, does help to provide a skilled, local workforce.

“There is a definite Okanagan Valley phenomenon that says people will stay here to work rather than advancing to a new position elsewhere,” Banham says, a reflection of the changing focus of the work/lifestyle balance that people are seeking, as opposed to the work-obsessed path to success.