Case Study: Sodexo receives Best Employers Award for 50 Plus Canadians

Innovative “reverse mentoring” programs have older employees sharing their knowledge with younger workers while learning about technology and social media.

Sodexo Canada’s commitment to attracting and retaining highly skilled older employees has been recognized with a 2014 Employers Award for 50 Plus Canadians from the Workplace Institute. The company was one of only three employers to receive the award in 2014.

The institute’s criteria was excellence in relation to older employees in hiring, training, career development, retention, workplace culture, health care, employee and family benefits, retirement policy and pre- and post-retirement support systems.

Sodexo has long recognized that employees over 50 are integral to enhancing its competitive edge. The company, which employs about 10,000 workers, has created a series of initiatives to attract, retain and engage older workers. New hires over the age of 50, for example, are offered compensation and vacation packages that take into account their total years of service prior to joining the company.

Older workers are also presented with new challenges to keep them engaged and challenged. The company’s “right start teams” program regularly invites experienced employees over 50 to help establish and launch new locations.

Training programs are provided to help with staying current with technology. Sodexo also offers reduced working hours on a case-by-case basis for workers transitioning to retirement.

Employees 50 and over are regularly invited to participate in mentoring partnerships to share knowledge and experience. By pairing older and younger workers, the company is bridging generations to drive productivity and engagement. The younger employee benefits from long experience while the older worker is exposed to technology and social media.

“Our commitment to older employees is part of a broad diversity program to create a dynamic and inclusive multi-generational workforce,” says Dean Johnson, president of Sodexo Canada. “It is no accident that 35 per cent of our workforce is age 50 or older. We need skilled workers to drive every aspect of our organization and baby boomers offer deep experience and industry knowledge.”

With the tidal wave of boomers now past age 55, there is only one worker aged 25 to 34 for every three employees aged 55 or older. This demographic reality makes it much harder to replace older employees and underscores the importance of older employees to dynamic workplaces.

The company has found that developing a workplace culture that values and welcomes older employees is good for business. Workers over 50 stay longer, reducing turnover. They also tend to be highly productive and loyal. Internal research clearly shows that older workers consistently score higher in employee engagement surveys.

“Sodexo’s experience is that initiatives that make 50 plus employees feel valued and engaged from recruitment to retirement advance customer satisfaction,” says Johnson. “We applaud the Workplace Institute’s efforts to encourage employer initiatives that enable older Canadians to work longer and thrive in the workplace.”

This is a news release issued by Sodexo Canada, dated April 22, 2014. The original copy of the release can be viewed here.