8 Office Trends to Attract and Retain A Millennial Workforce
The global workplace market is waving goodbye to baby boomers and is welcoming the millennial generation.
In 2019, the millennials are going to represent the largest portion of the workforce, outnumbering the baby boomers. With this change, comes the necessity for employers to understand the new expectations that are occurring.
Since forever, there have been employee engagement and retention issues in the workplace. And millennials are another big factor that employers have to incorporate into their equations in order to reach a favourable outcome.
The differences can be huge. For example, baby boomers have a tendency to stay with the same company for years at a time. Millennials, on the other hand, are much more likely to switch jobs and are always open to new opportunities.
The older generations of workers are retiring, and employers need to find new ways to connect with younger potential employees. That is if they want to attract and retain them successfully.
Here are some key points to go over for employees to make the most out of the changing workforce market:
If you were to ask a boomer to identify their strengths, they would list organizational memory, optimism and openness to working long hours. These older generations have been working in organizations large corporate hierarchies. Which is not that common today, what with flat management structures and teamwork-based roles.
On the other hand, millennials have a very different set of ideas when it comes to their preferred working experience. They are much more educated; we can thank the widespread and relatively easily accessible higher education for that. They work in teams rather than as individuals, which is perfect as modern problems are much more efficiently tackled that way.
Millennials are also skilled in technology since they have grown up surrounded by it from a very early age. They have seen it prosper over the years, and have therefore developed the intuition that older generations lack. They are confident, much more able to multi-task and are, since they are young, full of energy.
That energy is channelled in constant strife to overcome challenges and fulfil those high expectations of themselves. Motivating, engaging, acquiring and actually retaining these people requires new strategies. This is what we are going to address in this article.
Out with the old
Classic high-walled cubicles are no longer cutting it. They are dark, dingy, uninspiring and from a more objective standpoint, they do hinder communication and team-oriented workflow. Not only are they undesirable but are also unpractical and sub-optimal. Employers who want to attract a younger workforce will not do well for themselves by holding onto their outdated cubicles.
That said, it is not necessary for every single office to make a complete U-turn towards open-floor designs. There are plenty of options to choose from between the extremes. It could even be as simple as using mid-height separators as opposed to high wall cubicles.
Group work stations are also a must for most modern industries, as many current tasks can only be accomplished through a team effort.
Standing desks are all the rage these days with the increasing consciousness about health and physical activity.
This combination is a part of a trend where physical activity in the workplace is encouraged as it is quite beneficial for not only personal health but productivity as well.
The importance of coffee
Finally, one common thing all generations can gather around is coffee. Both older and new generations agree that the world’s favourite beverage is a must in the workplace.
There are differences in consumption habits, mind you. Baby boomers prefer it plain, black and simple, while millennials enjoy an ever-increasing range of different brands, flavours and choices (generally speaking).
As long as we have adequate appliances for everyone’s taste and we keep them stocked with coffee capsules for a delicious cup of coffee at work, chores can go on unhindered.
Flickering neon and fluorescent lighting have been proven long ago to keep people alert and awake, which is good for productivity but only in short bursts. Long-term, harsh lighting will result in headaches and bleary eyes.
Recent studies have shown that one of the most common complaints employees have is lighting related. The most important thing about lighting is to keep it as natural as possible. The more daylight we can get into our work environment, the better. Windows are the obvious choice for companies that have regular nine-to-five work hours.
For those that have night shifts, it may be a good idea to incorporate warm, low kelvin lighting to simulate that homely and sunny feel. Workers that do not have access to windows and natural light experienced a lower quality of life measures. These manifest themselves in various forms like sleep quality and efficiency, general mood and reduced daytime function.
It is understandable if it is simply not feasible for a business to install windows throughout their entire buildings. We can still take advantage of changing the traditional lighting with the new LED of CFL technologies. Not only do they offer a much wider choice in terms of luminosity, colour and warmth, but they are much more efficient.
These are easy on the eyes and make employees feel a little less on edge and a bit more relaxed.
One of the simplest and most natural ways to make our office space more appealing and with the times is to add plants.
We’re not talking about decorative greenery, but real, live potted plants.
Again, they serve the purpose of bringing our employees closer to nature as the colour of plants was proven time and time again to be relaxing for the eyes.
And as well as modernising the look and feel of an office, plants reduce stress and sickness which reduces sick days (obviously) and increase productivity and general employee wellbeing.
Keeping up with technology
The tech expansion has begun a long time ago and is showing no signs of slowing down. On the contrary, more and more technologies are becoming ubiquitous and irreplaceable.
Companies are following along with this global trend and are moving away from traditional paper trail methods. Instead, the focus is shifting towards enhancing various digital systems and equipment that increases speed, efficiency and accuracy.
The millennial generation is much more flexible, intuitive, open to change and willing to get hands-on when it comes to these technologies.
It is all about automating as many mundane tasks as possible. Only then can employees occupy themselves with what they are here to actually do and not waste precious time and talent on tasks that could have been handed over to a machine. It is a matter of streamlining the working environment, meaning that redundancy is brought to a minimum.
Companies will also enjoy the benefits of saving time and money by being part of the constant race of keeping up with the technology. This is a serious commitment that will help us retain top talent and future-proof our business process.
Facilities for recreation
With the increasing focus on a more favourable work-life-wellbeing balance through a healthier lifestyle, millennials will appreciate all opportunities for stretching their legs.
Light recreational facilities or activities can easily be incorporated into most office environments. There are plenty of options to choose from and it can depend on the industry and environment your company finds itself in.
For example, ping-pong or pool tables will offer a distraction during lunch breaks as well as a little friendly competition. A mini fitness room for all kinds of different aerobic exercises like yoga or Zumba will encourage interaction with colleagues and a healthier lifestyle.
If you own a large business, you may even want to set up multiple recreational teams that will promote different forms of fitness activities. Some are more inclined towards endurance-based activities such as cycling and running, while others might wish for more strength and muscle-building events such as bodybuilding and powerlifting.
Remote work opportunities
Working from home is fast becoming more and more commonplace. It can be seen as a luxury but also in plenty of cases, as a requirement.
Remote work, which is usually done from home, ties in with our previous point that millennials want flexibility in their work experience. There are even reports that millennials may not even consider a job opportunity if it does not offer at least an opportunity down the line for remote work.
Luckily, technology allows for this now more than ever, for industries that make this logistically sound.
It is not without its drawbacks, however. It does pose a challenge for companies to keep the remote working employees engaged and maintain the relationship. Companies have to develop strategies that are specific to each one of them and depend on a multitude of factors. Employees still need to feel like they are a part of the team, even if they are working alone in the comforts of their own home.
Infrastructure for all purposes
Traditional office spaces are meant for singular, fixed use. These models are no longer viable for today’s multitasking-oriented business and work challenges.
Modular, flexible and adaptable workspaces will help with that. Flexible office furniture makes it possible to utilize all areas for all purposes without the constrictions of fixed office elements.
The market and its demands are changing very rapidly and we need answers to these problems. It is much more cost-effective to invest in a portable and flexible office, rather than in more office space with all the expenses connected to it.
More than all previous generations, millennials are seeking meaning and fulfilment at home and at work as well. It is important for them to know that they are coming into an inspiring and engaging office.
The office should be something that they are looking forward to coming into and feeling a part of. No matter the industry we find ourselves in, there are steps that can be taken in order to show that we understand and care about our younger employees.