Why is it important to introduce millennial-friendly modifications to your workplace
Millennials are now the largest generation of workers, having surpassed Gen X and baby boomers by number in 2016. As millennials are among the most innovative and tech-savvy workers, this makes them an appealing demographic many that forward-thinking employers seek out.
In many areas, millennial workers’ values, expectations, and work preferences can be quite different than ones favored by previous generations, so employers today are smart to give serious consideration to their preferences if they want to attract and retain this new talent. However, it’s also important to know that if millennials aren’t satisfied with their work environment, they aren’t shy about switching jobs. If you want to create a millennial-friendly workplace, here are some tips that can turn their heads.
1. Choose a central location
A short commute is important to millennials, which means living close to work is a primary consideration when deciding whether to accept a job offer. Since people from this generation often choose options that protect our planet, they are more likely to walk, bike, use public transportation, or ride-share to work. Location-related perks sought by many millennials can include:
- A walkable commercial area or neighborhood, preferably with easy building access
- Proximity to transit-oriented housing developments that offers daily conveniences nearby
- An employee bike rack or another place to store bicycles for commuters
- Access to a shower and/or dressing room to clean up after a walk or ride (especially helpful for summer commutes)
- A public transportation subsidy benefit that helps defray the daily cost of buses or trains
Another perk some workplaces offer employees is the option to telework from home a couple of times a week (or at least a few times a month). The ability to work from home or another comfortable environment has been shown to boost employee productivity.
2. Respect work-life balance
A healthy work-life balance is a high priority for most millennials. A study conducted by Bentley University uncovered the fact that 77 percent of this generation believes flexible work hours also increase their productivity levels. This is not surprising for a generation who grew up with full-time access to mobile devices. Ways you can offer flexibility include:
- Getting rid of sterile office layouts (think cubicles, closed doors – see more below) in favor of an inviting, communal space
- Considering different shift options or flexible start and end times
- Offering abundant sick leave (64% of millennials surveyed in a recent study said they’d leave a job if it was too difficult to take sick or personal days.)
- Providing days when they can work from home
- Enforcing a relaxed dress code to foster a more open, creative atmosphere
Bottom line: Many millennials typically won’t want to work in the stringent conditions of the past, whether created by hours, space, assignments, or workplace culture. To keep them focused and interested, provide them with as much flexibility as possible and they’ll give their best efforts in return.
3. Offer an open, non-conventional workspace
The cubicle emerged as a popular workspace solution in the 1960s and continued into the new millennium. Today, that feels like ancient history to millennials. If you want to create an appealing work environment for this age group, you’ll want to tear down the walls (literally or figuratively) and make some modifications, such as:
- Banishing the sterility of cubicles and other confining office features
- Renovating to create a workspace that’s open and inviting
- Replacing the fluorescent fixtures with natural lighting via windows or skylights
- Offering flexible seating arrangements and workspaces at different levels
- Adding quiet nooks that provide privacy for phone calls or intensely focused work
- Making sure Wi-Fi is strong and available inside and outside the building (Most millennials don’t like being disconnected for any period of time.)
Another modification you might want to consider is creating an appealing outdoor workspace. Add some benches, water fountains, or a garden. In essence, you want to create comfortable and fluid workspaces throughout your building.
4. Enhance the social environment
Millennials like to mix it up Many are very social and enjoy a good time. This doesn’t mean they goof off; instead, they actually work better in a fun, collaborative and friendly work environment. Many employers take these types of approaches:
- Offering appealing perks like food, games, and holiday gift exchanges
- Providing corporate-sponsored volunteer activities (Companies get bonus points for allowing them to do this while on the clock — not only is it appealing to them, but it also can boost your brand visibility in a positive way.)
- Building an on-site café with healthy food options (It’s a great way to promote socialization within the organization — and free food is a primary desired perk!)
Bosses of millennials tend to see higher productivity when they set up a social-centric workplace environment, as many workers perform worse in isolation. By finding ways to accommodate their social preferences, your company will ultimately see a healthier bottom line.
5. Focus on health and wellness
In 2016, more than three-fourths of millennials rated their health condition as “excellent” or “good” and value remaining so, clearly demonstrating the importance they place on a healthy lifestyle. You can help them meet their wellness goals by:
- Offering free yoga, massage, or meditation classes
- Convening exercise-related clubs that meet regularly
- Providing ergonomic office furniture
- Encouraging workers to get up and take breaks to prevent repetitive stress injuries
- Holding a step challenge to increase more activity during the work day while building camaraderie among colleagues
Other perks to consider are free gym memberships or, if not feasible, a discounted group membership for your staff. You also can look for health insurance providers that offer discounts to people who live healthy lifestyles.
6. Broaden communication methods
Communication is vital to every organization, and using tired methods of constant phone calls or frequent meetings will likely feel tedious to millennials. To appeal to their communication preferences, you want to focus on digital connectivity. In other words, millennials seem to be way more productive when communication takes place asynchronously. Consider the way each method below lends itself to a different need:
- Texting lends itself to quick questions and responses,and offers privacy
- Emails are useful for exchanging more involved information
- Skype, Slack, and other digital workflow platforms facilitate collaborative projects, group conversations and file sharing
- Phone and conference calls provide person-to-person solutions “when all else fails.”
Since they’ve grown up “connected,” many millennials thrive on digital ways to communicate and are likely to be stronger participants when these are used.
7. Foster personal and professional development
It’s clear that millennials are all about living full and balanced lives — and that includes developing new skills and capabilities. Employers can help them to accomplish this goal by offering employees ways to promote personal and professional development. Consider initiatives such as:
- Creating options for one-on-one mentoring or professional career coaching
- Providing free training on new and emerging technologies
- Offering tuition reimbursement (or partial reimbursement) for employees to update existing skills or partake in new training
- Maintaining regularly scheduled performance reviews and providing regular feedback
Essentially, any opportunities you can offer millennials to expand their knowledge base or personal growth will go a long way in establishing a happy workplace for them.
It’s projected that when 2025 arrives, three out of four workers will be millennials. On their heels will be Generation Z, who are already entering the workforce. This group is also technology-centric and holds many of the same work-life values as their predecessors. For both groups, the day-to-day work experience will continue to play a huge role in work satisfaction and engagement — and, consequently, the success of the businesses that employ them. Making millennial-friendly modifications to your workspace now will pay off in the long run.