Leigha Horsfield of Community Futures discusses the New World of Work during a lunch seminar for small business week at the Village Green Hotel.

Leigha Horsfield of Community Futures discusses the New World of Work during a lunch seminar for small business week at the Village Green Hotel.

Seminar celebrates small business

Community Futures North Okanagan celebrates small business week with a Wednesday seminar at the Village Green Hotel.

A delicious lunch followed by a pair of informative business presentations, all at no cost.

Community Futures North Okanagan served up an enjoyable afternoon as it celebrated small business week with a Wednesday seminar at the Village Green Hotel.

Leigha Horsfield, Community Futures’ business services co-ordinator, was first to the podium, offering insight on The New World of Work. She focussed how workplace attitudes and relationships have shifted over the years, starting with the baby boomers and the “live to work generation,” right up to generation Y, which she dubbed the “live, then work generation.”

“These individuals (baby boomers) had to compete for everything from time on the playground to which universities they attended. They had to be on the top of their game,” said Horsfield, explaining the workplace loyalty and dedication of that generation.

Attitudes started to change when the more independent generation X began entering the workforce, continued Horsfield.

“They believe productivity should be measured in output rather than the number hours spent on a task or in an office chair,” she said.

“This generation is looking for a little more flexibility in what it is they’re doing. A lot more work-life balance.”

Horsfield predicts yet another shift when gen Y, most of who are just entering their teens, come of age. She suggested this group will have a strong sense of entitlement and a loyalty to people, not organizations. This has to do with how they were nurtured and constantly engaged in myriad activities during their formative years.

“They were involved in everything,” said Horsfield. “They were constantly connected and constantly engaged growing up.

“They grew up during an incredibly technologically advanced time where they never had to get off the couch to change the channel, they never had to wonder who was on the phone before they picked it up and they never opened a hotel room door with a key.

“I don’t think they’re called generation Y because that letter follows X in the alphabet. I think they are called they because they continually asking ‘Why?’”

No matter which generation a person is from, Horsfield said it is vital to understand their viewpoint and connect with them.

“People influence the world of work more than any other factor,” she said.

And with more and more baby boomers leaving the workforce, it is going to create an incredible demand for work.

“There simply aren’t enough people necessary to fill the spaces in the workplace,” said Horsfield. “We are experiencing a skill shortage. Not a labour shortage, a skill shortage. We need to be able to engage these generations coming up to fill these gaps.”

Kevin Poole, Vernon’s economic development officer, concluded the event with a recap of the North Okanagan economic climate.

While the local housing market is still in a slump, the same cannot be said for the commercial sector. With projects like the new 80,000 square foot Kal Tire building and Marriott hotel development going ahead on Anderson Way, Poole expects commercial building permit values will exceed $30 million for 2011.

Add in government-funded projects like Vernon secondary school, the new library and B.C. Transit facility, and things are buzzing along nicely, said Poole.

“Vernon’s role is to make sure we capitalize on those stimulus dollars,” he said.

“We need to make sure that investment comes here because it can go anywhere.”

Poole added it remains crucial to ensure continued support for local business, especially small business.

“It’s very appropriate we’re talking about small business because that’s where that growth happens,” he said.

“The reality is about 80 per cent of the growth in a community comes from within.”