Need to Recruit and Retain Millennial Talent? Focus on Your Workplace

According to a 2015 report from The Millennial Impact, office environment is the fourth most important factor for millennials when they’re choosing an employer. Moreover, other top-five factors like work culture and having a mission can be directly impacted by the workplace.

Driving workplace change to meet the evolving needs of the workforce starts at the top and CEOs must understand what employees look for in a workplace to drive change, attract employees and ultimately improve the bottom line. Here are 4 key drivers millennial employees seek in the workplace.

“82% of millennials believe collaboration is the key to innovation and aspire to work in companies that agree.”

1. Workplaces must empower collaboration and innovation. The millennial generation essentially demands a corporate culture anchored in collaboration. Recent studies show that 82% of millennials believe collaboration is the key to innovation and aspire to work in companies that agree. This means organizations should invest in technology and spaces that encourage and drive collaboration, while also enabling the type of work their people need to get done.

Ultimately, collaborative cultures can be strengthened through the strategic introduction of a variety of spaces from team zones, enclaves, relaxed social settings and even outdoor spaces. Creating these spaces and then infusing them with the necessary digital and mobile technology that allow employees to be productive and connected with the world is critical to shaping a collaborative culture.

2. Workplaces must be flexible. When it comes to where and how work gets done, the millennial generation loves freedom of choice. Able to get work done on laptops, smartphones and tablets, employees are no longer tethered to their desks as they were a decade ago. This means employers need to offer flexible workspaces that allow people to move, change positions and work in different areas throughout the day. Organizations at the forefront of responding to this demand are introducing “hubs” of flexible space that can offer up to 10 different types of work settings. These hubs then allow employees to sit, stand, lean, gain privacy and move around throughout the day as they feel necessary.

Zurich North America recently executed a workplace pilot that allowed employees to test out a variety of flexible workspaces to help inform the company’s new headquarters in 2016. While there were mild differences in the preferred flexible areas, overall satisfaction with the ability to use different spaces over the course of a work day increased by 64%.

3. Workplaces should support your mission. The millennial generation believes business should do more than generate profit, it should also change the world. The 2014 Millennial Impact survey indicates that 97% of millennials want to use their skills to help a cause. This means organizations must do more than simply draft new values and mission statements, they should also consider aligning their workspace around their mission.

If a company says it is committed to being a steward for the environment, then millennials will expect its workspaces to reflect that with numerous sustainability features and a focus on energy conservation. If improving health around the world is a company’s focus, then its workspace better welcome natural light, encourage movement, offer healthy food and help its employees live healthier lives. Other ideas include investing in powerful interior graphics that keep employees immersed in the company’s mission and goals and/or creating spaces that allow community nonprofits to visit. Failing to align workspaces with organizational missions will be recognized by millennials and weaken recruitment and retention over time. The sooner organizations can take steps to strengthen the connection, the better.

4. Not sure where to start? Listen to millennials. The millennial generation believes it can and will drive change, and its members are very willing to step up, share ideas and help companies evolve their culture. CEOs should invite employees into strategic discussions about how to reshape the work environment. They may be surprised by the vision millennials can bring to workspaces. Strategically devising workplace pilots, internal focus groups and brainstorm session that will inform design decisions and lead to measurable data are great tools to make this happen.

Organizations that overlook the needs of the millennial generation and fail to align corporate offices with said needs could potentially see significant negative impacts on company revenue and profit over time. To best position their organizations to manage the majority generation in the workforce, CEOs need to lead their teams to make workplaces an asset in recruitment and retention. The time to start is now.

Meg Osman
Meg Osman is the executive director of CannonDesign’s Corporate/Commercial Practice, focused on helping businesses design solutions that turn challenges into opportunities for success.

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